due west, part 1

Our daughter and her husband have been happily married for almost eight years. They have been perfectly content with each other and with their careers and lives. They are blessed with many talents and many friends. And they are faithful to their beliefs, and to doing things the right way.

Beth has her own business which she runs out of their home. It is a graphic design business specializing in stationery, invitations, and all things paper. Although her inventory is manageable, it quite literally seeps out of her office and into the rest of their home during her busy seasons of Christmas and the spring.

Because of a need to find more space for themselves and her business, she and Jamie began to look for another house. They knew what area of Nashville they wanted to be in – near their current home, close to Jamie’s work, and in the zone of an excellent school – in case little ones ever did come along. It was close to their current residence – just a few miles due west, as the crow flies.

So the search for a new home began. The area where they hoped to live has developed over many years. There are some older and smaller homes with lots of character and charm. And there are some new impressive or exclusive residences that are too expensive and often not to their taste anyway. Beth spent many hours driving through neighborhoods, dreaming and looking and coming up empty. Nothing promising was ever for sale.

Then one day Beth called and asked her dad, “What do you know about a home in foreclosure?” Then things started getting interesting.

hopefully just for today

The super moon is close to earth and looming large

it still commands a presence

in the early predawn hours.


A morning walk before the sunrise

illuminated by this spotlight

peeking from behind clouds.


The air is warm and still – nighttime insects reminiscing,

background music keeping time,

human racket still asleep.


The clouds accumulate and grow, billowing high and gathering

making the air feel even heavier,

postponing the coming day.


Even the birds are sleeping in today, waiting for more light, or else

the moon kept them awake last night

and now their sluggishness holds on.


Time pauses and resists the urge to move along towards day

Suspended in this in-between

of thick and quiet space


And so we walk along together, covering this wellworn route

wondering when and if the rain will come

to break this listless spell.


But wait – look down there by the grate, now scurrying across the yard

the black would not be noticable

without the white stripe above.


We stop and watch and keep our distance

allowing it to take the lead

and wander where it wants.


Along the edge of houses in between and under shrubs

at last it crosses the road and heads

down toward the river bottom land.


By the light of the super moon and in the stillness of the condensed air

a visitor joins our journey this morning

hopefully just for today.

this doesn’t scare me

Summer ends early in middle Tennessee. Not weather wise – oh, no – we are getting into some hot days this week. But school starts back and the weather (and “real life”) become less important when your days are spent inside a school room. Teachers went back last Friday – August 1, and students return this Friday – August 8.

I have always lamented this early return to school. August is when summer is just getting fired up. There are plenty more blistering days and humid evenings to get through. The beginning of school should be associated with cool nights, morning fogs, apples, and turning leaves. Plus, in my family, we have birthdays and anniversaries to celebrate in August. So many other things to do besides think about school. No, not yet.

But it is so hard to soak up summer and celebrate fully when all thoughts turn to classroom lists, bulletin boards, and lessons plans. That’s why is always pains me to see beautiful fall displays that appear this time of year, even though I LOVE the season of autumn. They remind me that my carefree days are over and routine is returning and there will be lots more things to worry about and many problems to solve very soon.

Yesterday I went to JoAnn’s for some fabric and this sight greeted me as I walked across the parking lot to the store:

signs of fall

But guess what? This doesn’t scare me anymore. It doesn’t even make me sad.

This is only the third year in the last 55 years that I haven’t started school in the fall. (One year working at another kind of business job, one year on maternity leave, and this year makes three.) And every year, once I got started, I relished every aspect of this teaching life. It was my calling, and my joy.

But not this year. This is my first year – my third day, actually, to be RETIRED. So I am looking at things differently. And honestly, I like the lens. It may feel different when those cool nights and autumn leaves finally do arrive, we’ll see. But for now, I really do like what I see!