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Entries in summer (13)


Death in Summer

The geese at the lake are aggressive at this time of year.  They hiss and squawk at the dog and me when we run by in the morning, warning us not to come any closer.  Downy little goslings toddle in line behind their fearful mamas.

A June Friday night calls us to the lake on our bikes, three in a row.  Will rides the funny swing bike he just found on Craigslist, the one Ezra giggles at and calls the wiggly bike.  Ezra just proudly sized up to his Big Bike, 16 inches of rolling speed demon, and I ride the beach cruiser gifted to me last year.  Every time I ride it - often this time of year - I think of Jackie in her new life on the West coast, and Dylan, gone too soon.

Freedom hangs in the lake air on Friday evening.  No cars to avoid on the bike path.  The smoke from the nearby wildfires has cleared in the summer breeze.  Swings that go higher on demand, 'til your stomach drops out, your hair blows back, and you squeal.  The weight of another week lifts away in the clear golden light.

On the ride home toward dinner and a date with the DVD player we stop under a tree.  I notice first the several geese nervously shifting their weight back and forth, huddling near their goslings.  One goose honks plaintively, hovering over a baby convulsing on the ground.  Will and I urge Ezra onward, but he can't be pulled away.

Ez, let's go!


I don't want to get a first-hand look at life and death on Friday night at the park, but I guess that's what's happening.  I park my bike and go crouch by him.  From here I can see the baby gosling's intestines in the dirt, the plaintive mother goose and the baby's last twitches.

Why does that baby have a hole in him? Ezra wants to know.

I think an animal got his mouth on him, I say, probably a dog.  You know how animals have predators?  Well I think one hurt that baby goose.

The mama goose honks and squawks.

Why is that big bird doing that?

That's the mama and she's so sad because her baby got hurt, I say and the baby's twitching slows.   That's what mamas do.  If you ever got hurt I would cry and cry and I wouldn't be able to go on, I add, before realizing I don't want him to identify too closely with the disemboweled chick.  But I won't let anything happen to you.  I silently pray that this is true.  Let's extend for a while longer the fiction that mamas have the power to protect our children from pain.

Isn't there a doctor that can fix the hole in him?

Ummm, I don't know of any goose doctor.

Why can't Daddy fix him?

Daddy's really good at a lot of things, but I don't think he knows how to fix that goose, I say.

The goose is still.

Ezra is quiet for a minute and then asks, When it dies, is it dead forever?

Exhale.  Yes.


Because that's how it works when you die, I say, wondering if this is really true.  I am mystified by this last breath, this single moment that is the fulcrum between being and no longer being, the tipping point from which there is no return.  You can be so alive and then... not, with barely a warning.

Sit down, my friend Chuck said when he called me four years ago.  Dylan died last night.  And suddenly I couldn't breathe.

My brother's friend went dirt biking in the desert last weekend and never came home.  Search crews found his bike, wrecked, and followed his footprints for a mile.  They found his body lying peacefully, hand on his heart, his brilliant blue eyes open to the vast sky.  He was so alive, and then he wasn't, his last breath scoured by the hot desert winds.

Ezra watches the still bird at the foot of the tree carefully.  The honking has died down too.

Do you want to say a little blessing for him?

We are both puzzled about how this works, but I try.

Great Spirit, I offer, please help guide this baby goose through the transition.  Please help him find a place with lots of water and no dogs and no pain, forever.

Somehow it is enough for Ezra and we get back on our bikes.  The evening caresses us on the rest of the ride home.  It is the perfect night to be alive.


Made of Stars


Elegy for Summer

You go to the desert and you can breathe.  It's stark and vast and just maybe there's enough room here to  allow for your spinning wheels to wind themselves down, until


you're still.

The summer was one long high-rev, and it was everything you planned, except you forgot to schedule in the rest that makes the thrills thrilling.  You feel like a shit for complaining about back-to-back-to-back thrills, but it might actually be better than feeling


which is mostly all there is left to sense.

There is no





There are

(hurt feelings)



many things and people that you miss.

So you go to the desert, and you wonder

why, again, am I here?

and you pedal through strange dreamscapes, finally noticing you are unable to outrun resistance.

(gee, it took you long enough)

And just then you are so tired that the only thing left to do is




and your heart takes flight.


Small Gifts

Spring burst forth along Colorado's front range in a riot of prematurely hot days and a sudden profusion of flowers: trees heavy with blossoms, bulbs dripping in color, phlox unfolding a month ahead of schedule.  It is intoxicating and glorious, but I can't experience that without a sliver of underlying anxiety.  I feel unprepared for the headlong plunge into the fecundity of summer, like the whole earth is moving at a pace I can't match.

I am like a gear in an old-fashioned pocketwatch, tiny and fragile, being moved by my proximity and connection to all those around me.  Small gifts are the lubrication that keep our machine from locking up.  Kindness keeps me from overheating as the seconds tick faster.

Will has been overseas for work and a friend I met in my gypsy days but have not seen for years opened her home and welcomed him as she would have me, like an old friend. 

My mother was my date to a friend's 65th birthday party this weekend.  She greeted us and said to my mom, Your daughter is one of my favorite people on the planet.

The new babysitter goes above and beyond and I come home to a clean kitchen.

A gorgeous slab of lemon-fennel salmon arrived in my kitchen just before the afternoon party preparation got the best of me.

Hugs.  Scalp massages.  Cupcakes.

Small things that, in the words of Robert Brault, become the big things.  These are the things that give me room to breathe, the things that make it safe to unfold the tender parts, the things that make it possible to embrace the noisy, crowded abundance of summer.


Red Rocks

297.365 iPhoneSummer is not summer in Denver without at least one trip to Red Rocks.  Last week Krista sprung on me the good news that she had an extra ticket to My Morning Jacket.  It was a divine way to end my kid-free staycation and a classic Red Rocks night: warm, windy, lightning in the distance over Denver, rock 'n roll, shiny happy Coloradans embraced by the incredible sandstone monoliths. 


I think it's fair to say that I've never been to a bad show here.  There's something about the space that elevates the senses and inspires the performer and the crowd to connect.

Thanks Krista.