Gifts and Graces: Spring Edition

Yesterday I hurried into Walmart for a few things and emerged–much more slowly–pushing a cart. Right outside the door I caught the fragrance of something I’d seen but not stopped to appreciate on the way in: flowers for sale. It was the scent of spring. I try, with varying degrees of success, not to focus so much on the difficulties of a season  that I miss out on the good. This winter, with its perpetual grey skies that delivered more rain than snow, proved hard not to wish away. Already the best gift and amazing grace of spring is that it arrived, just {Continue Reading}

Every Day We Show Up

Encouraged by this post? Receive an audio file of another story from the stage:The Single Seat. Subscribe to the quarterly{ish} newsletter in sidebar.  Every Monday during the winter, I drive into town. There, twenty young actors and a few directors gather to work. We block scenes so the actors know where they’re supposed to be, when. We practice dialogue so they know their lines and how to deliver them. We fine tune character development so they know how to inhabit their role.  In the beginning progress is slow. Details that seemed settled at one practice get lost before we make it to {Continue Reading}

Winter’s Good Graces {and Why to Keep Track}

The bleak midwinter, Christina Rossetti called it. And while her poem is lovely, living with continual strings of short, cold, sunless days is not. I believe that there is a time for everything, even bleak days. And yet. It’s at such times when my practice of pausing occasionally to ponder the path, to take stock of each season’s gifts and graces saves me from giving in to cabin fever and its ilk. Winter’s good graces are less obvious than those of the more temperate seasons. I find it’s possible to uncover them, though, when I’m intentional about looking. Here, at winter’s midpoint, is a list of some of {Continue Reading}

Seeing Blue Beyond the Grey {and Welcome!}

Because it intersects with two subjects that fascinate and teach me,  the rhythms of the seasons and Yellowstone, I bought a book, For Everything There is a Season: The Sequence of Events in the Grand Teton-Yellowstone Area. Through it, I see the general happening of Yellowstone’s year from afar. Week by week, it lays out which birds generally return when, the expected arrival of the young of the year, when a particular wildflower will bloom. Week by week. Except for December. Not too much happens in December. Twenty-seven of its days get one chapter, six pages, to themselves. And the stretch  we’re {Continue Reading}

Taking the Best of One Year Into the Next

Gravel crunched under the tires as I made my way through early morning’s darkness down the lane, away from my home in the country toward a hospital in the city. Des Moines has six general hospitals and I could picture and plot a route to every one of them. Every one except the one where my mom was having surgery that morning. The road to Mercy was lost to me. I checked Google Maps on our computer and while I still couldn’t envision where I was headed, I could see it on the map and pick between the three routes {Continue Reading}

Look at the Pretty Lights

Our headlights cut through the blinding darkness of the December night, illuminating the country highway as my littlest girl and I made our way home from church. “Look at the pret-ty lights, Mom-my,” she called from her car seat in the back of the van. “Do you see the pret-ty lights? I like the pret-ty lights. Do you like the pret-ty lights?” Like them? Yes. See them? No. At least, not like she did. She, days shy of her fourth birthday, saw twinkly lights on the horizon and deemed them worthy of attention, of affection, of conversation. I, days past {Continue Reading}

Gifts and Graces

Gratitude. It doesn’t always come naturally. grat i tude noun the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Along with the continual quest to lift my eyes so I can see, I’ve been trying to acknowledge life’s gifts and the little graces of each season. It’s a practice that helps me cultivate gratitude and walk life’s road more grace-fully. These are some of this season’s gifts and graces: Cats, because field mice and fall. And also there’s purring. The settling in that comes with shorter days and longer nights. Glimpses of the sun after a string of grey. {Continue Reading}

Bridges Between

One fall, when I attended the University of Iowa, I went a few weeks between visits home. When my parents drove me to school, the fields were full and green. When they brought me home, the fields stood empty. Even the combines and trucks had gone home. Growing up in rural Iowa, I’d never experienced fall without seeing the harvest, that gradual dismantling of the familiar, fertile landscape one field at a time. It was unsettling. I’d seen empty fields before, with the stubbly shave they wore between fall and spring each year. The problem wasn’t how they looked. It was {Continue Reading}

The Light of Summer

As the sun set over the baseball field at the end of a sweltering July day, I sat in the stands and tried not to long for fall. Extreme heat is kind of my kryptonite, so I found myself fighting to not wish the light of summer away over a little discomfort. Summer, hot as it is right now, is already fading. Like a sweet newborn who marches toward independence from the first breath, each season arrives with the end in sight. And autumn, it’s getting ready, waiting in the wings, ready to take center stage. Soon enough I will miss summer’s warmth. If you’ve {Continue Reading}