The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech

This middle grade fiction from master storyteller Sharon Creech is full of mystery, generosity, and the marvels that may happen when judgment is suspended and life is received as given. It is the simple tone of the tale, and the deep rich layers resonating beneath that simplicity, as well as the circular shape of the story, that make it unforgettable.

A rural childless couple, John and Marta, accept the boy who appears on their porch, the boy who cannot tell them where he came from, but can show them his exultant spirit through painting and music. Later when the boy’s father comes for him, John and Marta’s grief is replaced by further generosity in the form of fostering other children. At the end of the parable-like story comes a satisfying surprise.


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Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper

Leave it to Susan Cooper’s brilliance to come up with a ghost point of view to convey the tangled complexity between the settlers and the first Americans. Here is a tumultuous epic that changes the way I think about the history of the land where I live. As I read this historical fiction for 10-14 year olds, I also kept thinking how chillingly similar is our own time, to the early 1600’s when Massachusetts Bay Colony Pilgrims misused their strong convictions, to cast out and persecute Quakers and Baptists and others who wanted real religious freedom including separation of church and state. As the ghost of Little Hawk says to his lifelong English friend John Wakely, “Treasure your uncertainty. Wrong choices come out of strong convictions that will not bend.”images-1


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“Tales from My Teachers” live on Amazon

Thrilled to show off the cover of my e-book, now listed on Amazon and available as a KDP Select title for $2.99.

Here’s what they are saying about Tales from My Teachers on the Alzheimer’s Unit:Riveting. Deeply affecting. Evocative. Profound. Groundbreaking. Transfixing. Stunning. (They are friends of mine, but hey!) Check out the collection for yourself. Your reviews on Amazon deeply appreciated.

Tales from My Teachers on the Alzheimer’s Unit


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Giving the Body Back

Ramsey Creek Preserve in South Carolina, the first green burial site established in the United States, consists of seventy-eight acres of pristine woodlands. Since 1996, people have chosen to be buried there, without vaults or embalming, along simple trails in a beautiful woods, sites marked only by mounds and flat river stones engraved with their information. The land is held and protected by a conservation easement, so the people who are buried there, far from paying a cemetery just to take up space, contribute by their death and choice to saving and protecting the land from development.

It is a comforting place to visit, which is what I did yesterday with my partner. The space feels sacred, a breathing eco-system nurtured by the bodies of people who deliberately decided to enrich the earth, to give their sustenance back to the earth that gave them sustenance. The mounds and markers in the woods create a startling art combining life and death!

In fact, Ramsey Creek Preserve unites life and death in a way sorely missing in modern life. Instead of attempting to fence death off from life in a cemetery, here the juxtaposition of life and death reminds us how stunning life is, how change is its spectacular signature. The combination of the living forest with the burial mounds reminds us, as we walk the tranquil trails, to get on with full-out living!

One flat river stone says, under the name and dates, You kept your promise to love me. It makes me think that all of these Gone-befores kept a promise they must have made, to love the planet that nurtured their lives. My own end-of-life papers have been prepared since I was in my forties, and each time I have updated them, I have designated cremation for disposition of the body. Now I wonder. Cremation means burning fossil fuels so that the nutrients of my physical form create air pollution as part of the process of turning it into ashes, whereas green burial means the nutrients of my body would actually enrich the land. The thought of becoming a real part of a living forest like Ramsey Creek Preserve feels so much more fitting.IMG_3489

Ramsey Creek Preserve was the perfect field trip this week, as I go along at the age of sixty-six, in my Earth School curriculum, always learning. This week is All Hallow’s Eve, aka Hallowmas, Samhain, or Halloween, the ancient festival of the dead. Hallowmas is one of the Old Religion’s eight High Days that divide the year into seasons, Hallowmas marking the midpoint between Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice. Peoples have always honored their ancestors as the Wheel of the Year turns toward the dark, toward that mystery of gestation that looks so much like loss. I think of all those who have gone before as ancestors, and I honor our unseen connections, whether biological or not.

I am grateful that as I age, my spirit lightens. In the woods at Ramsey Creek Preserve, in the brilliant October colors, breathing the invigorating autumn coolness into my lungs, I do not plod. I skip! And I offer thanks to those ancestors who made the sensible decision to have themselves planted here, in order to give something back.