Today I hike to Fawn Lake in Dupont Forest and immerse myself one last time; fall coolness in the air, but in the perfect lake, still the summer’s warmth. Slice of heaven, I hear a bicyclist say to his friend as they pedal past.
In thanksgiving, I offer to Fawn Lake many shells I gathered at the ocean, as well as the complex pumice stones I once collected from the shore of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.
When I do my morning Tai Chi on the little pier, it feels like a true speaking of my being to this holy place. One series of Tai Chi moves called Fairy Weaving at the Shuttle has four pauses, hands raised to the sky in each direction. This morning during those pauses, I feel the sky dome turn transparent! I see myself, a small woman by a lake on the pale blue dot of earth, stretching my arms to the distant stars, in love and adoration and belonging.
I am here, now, present. My breath allows me to become one with this pristine place. Not a human set down within a scene, but a being who is an integral presence in the beingness around me. I intend that I find this same serenity in the place to which I soon go, Ajijic (Ah-he-heek’) Mexico. I intend by the grace of this sacred North Carolina lake to return again and again, wherever I plant myself, to the Present Point of Power. To trust in life.
And here’s how it looks when you’re floating in the water’s arms, and everything’s upside down!
In this unique YA fiction set in rural West Virginia, poetry becomes young Sasha’s expressive lifeline as well as her means of social belonging. I appreciate an author whose plot turns can keep me guessing, and Dooley keeps surprising me all the way through. She also does a skillful job of pacing and dramatic tension. For example, Sasha takes baby steps in trust just before a mine accident which sends her running again in mistrust in order to block her pain. In another example, the crafting of Sasha’s blackouts–Dooley’s writing causes the reader to viscerally experience the Sasha’s disorientation— startling, and most effective for making Sasha real.
But the poems themselves are the beating heart of the story, all of them but especially the final crescendo poem that surprises even Sasha. The way the poems pour out of her when she’s most lost and most silent makes for razor-sharp contrast. The poems hang there in the silence for the reader, and create an arc of the protagonist’s griefs and desires. Free Verse by Sarah Dooley (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2016)is shelved as a Young Adult title but it is a novel for every age group. With Free Verse, Dooley makes a moving contribution to contemporary YA fiction.
I am emigrating from the US soon to live in Mexico as an immigrant. I go to make a new dream, as did my Italian immigrant grandparents and my Irish immigrant great grandfather and my Irish immigrant great great grandmother and my Norwegian immigrant great grandparents before me. I will live outside my native country, as they did. Those from the US who do this are often referred to as expats (expatriots), but for me, it’s less about exiting and more about arriving and creating a new life.
I have long had the intention to live in a beautiful natural setting where I can live richly on what I have and use my own two feet for transportation to meet my daily needs. In 2017 I will be 70, living a simpler, quieter chapter of my life. And it will be 50 years exactly from the first time I set foot in Mexico as a twenty year old. I remember riding the bus from Chicago to Mexico with the other students that summer in 1967, excited to see the world outside my country for the first time. I can feel myself twisting in the seat to take everything in, can hear us singing our songs full of hope and joy.
I fell in love with the Mexican people then, and went back many times in my life. So my immigration in two months will also be a return— to a country that feels like home.
I am about to become a Reading Buddy volunteer again at Isaac Dickson Elementary School with my favorite Second Grader. I highly recommend this program and encourage anyone with the time and desire to look into becoming a volunteer with Read to Succeed. In one 45-minute session per week, you can make a huge difference and help increase the number of local elementary school children who are at grade level in reading by the third grade. This year I can only help out until I move at the end of November, but the need is great and I am happy to do what I can. The next Reading Buddy trainings are Sept 28 & 29 – 9:30-noon Wednesday/Thursday and Nov 1 & 2 9:30-noon Tuesday/Wednesday at the R2S office at 16A Stewart Street.