Wherever You Are Is Called Here: Poetry from David Wagoner

Hiking on Mt. Tamalpais, CA.

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.

Bird on branch, UC Davis Arboretum

If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

~David Wagoner

Words are the spark that ignites my soul. I am a collector of language in all forms, not a hoarder. The extraordinary beauty of the written word must be shared. These monthly posts, inspired by another’s words, are my gifts of beauty and spirit, shared with love.

 This beautiful, meditative poem by David Wagoner found its way to me via The Writer’s Almanac.

“Lost” by David Wagoner from Traveling Light: Collected and New Poems. © University of Illinois Press, 1999. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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All That Glorious, Temporary Stuff: Poetry By Mary Oliver

Meditation, so I’ve heard, is best accomplished
if you entertain a certain strict posture.
Frankly, I prefer just to lounge under a tree.
So why should I think I could ever be successful?

Another one of my favorite neighborhood trees, budding out for spring.

Some days I fall asleep, or land in that
even better place – half-asleep – where the world,
spring, summer, autumn, winter – 
flies through my mind in its
hardy ascent and its uncompromising descent.

So I just lie like that, while distance and time
reveal their true attitudes: they never
heard of me, and never will, or ever need to.

Of course I wake up finally
thinking, how wonderful to be who I am,
made out of earth and water,
my own thoughts, my own fingerprints –
all that glorious, temporary stuff.

~ Mary Oliver

Oh Mary Oliver, how I love your words. Thinking about the wonder of life, the gift that getting older offers if we’re only paying attention. I’ve been saving this one for a long time – thank you to First Sip for sending it my way so many years ago. This is just the right time to share.

Words are the spark that ignites my soul. I am a collector of language in all forms, not a hoarder. The extraordinary beauty of the written word must be shared. These monthly posts, inspired by another’s words, are my gifts of beauty and spirit, shared with love.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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It’s A Different Kind of Christmas

I’m sitting cross legged on the couch, recently rearranged to directly face the six foot high Douglass fir that stands regally in our front window. at this hour of the morning the house is blissfully quiet, the only audible sound being the ticking of the kitchen clock and the occasional hum of the refrigerator to remind me that I’m not entirely stuck inside my mind.

On the low wooden coffee table sitting between me and the tree a candle flickers and casts a subtle shimmer of light against the funky mirrored cone shaped trees, the chess set a scramble of mislaid figures waits nearby for nimble fingers and cunning minds to bring it to life. The fireplace is cold beneath the twinkle of white lights and the four handmade stockings hanging in anticipation of tomorrow night.

retro SantaThe retro Santa collection graces the table to my right, a mish mash of a collection from grandparents savvy enough to keep Christmas collectibles from their younger days-they make me smile. To my left, the piano top holds ‘the white house’, so named by my husband’s grandmother, a handmade wooden structure complete with a removable chimney for Santa to hover over the top of as he gazes down on original 1940s-style miniature plastic versions of Christmas trees.

In other words, as I sit here in the silence, sipping my coffee with cream and wondering how in the world Christmas Eve can be tomorrow, my house looks festive. Except for one thing: the undecorated tree.

Yes, the hundreds of white lights warmly twinkle on its branches, casting a festive glow out the window to passers by. I even managed to plug in the electric Santa on the front porch in my festive attempt at making everything seem normal this year. But the truth is, it’s a different kind of Christmas around here this year, and frankly, it’s been hard.

In other years, Christmas carries the wave of anticipation and excitement common with most families of young children. Shortly after Thanksgiving we trek to pick out the perfect tree, make an evening of decorating in front of the fire complete with Christmas carols and exclamations of surprise and delight as each little ornament is removed from the box and hung with great contemplation, and sometimes a bit of bickering. Ah, the sounds of Christmas.

And in other years, we even had two trees, so over-the-top did our love for the season go. We simply wanted to have Christmas in every room of our home, hoping to prolong the season the best we could. My early December birthday was always a measure of the countdown; advent calendars would be in full force, lights would be twinkling from both stories of our house, and our son’s mile long Christmas list/letter to Santa would be taped to the fireplace.

But not this year. It’s a different kind of Christmas around here right now.

I’ve been wondering if this is what it will be like when we’re empty-nesters; that hesitancy to take Christmas full tilt when it’s just the two of us with no kids around. I wonder if this is some sort of inspiration for Elvis’s ‘Blue Christmas’ that I purposely have avoided hearing this year. I wonder if this is what so many people experience during the holiday season when they’re remembering Christmases long gone, children grown and on their own, creating their new memories in new places with new people. I just never figured it would be happening this year.

And every time I’ve walked through the door this month, I’ve plugged in the lights and sighed. I just can’t do it. The boxes of ornaments are still stacked in the dining room, unopened. And it’s December 23. This has never happened before. And I can’t blame it on holiday business, too many parties or anything else-except for one thing.

On Saturday night, after I had picked him up from his dorm, brought him back to the cabin, fed him until his belly cried for mercy and my eyes drooped from fatigue, he curled up on the couch and asked me for some paper. For the next hour, he quietly wrote, erased and drew while I prepared for the next morning’s early ski race departure. I noticed him tuck his paper in his backpack, and asked what he had been doing.

“Writing my Christmas list, ” he replied, his fourteen-year-old face tipped up to smile at me.

“Can I take a look?” I asked, knowing that there was no time left for shopping, and hoping that at least I had gotten that part right this year.

“Nope,” he smiled back, zipping up his backpack. “I just can’t wait for Christmas.”

“Really?” I mused. I secretly hoped that the decorations at home would be enough, and wishing I had at least wrapped a few presents to stick under the tree.

“Yeah, I can’t wait. I love sitting by the fire, you and Grandma drinking your coffee, Lily grumpy that I woke her up too early, and finding my stocking. And Dad-yeah, he’s just sitting there, but it’s great having everyone home.”

And then it hit me. I felt an unexplained release of bottled up anxiety, fear, sadness, and worry shiver down my neck, and suddenly I felt better. He was right. It is great having everyone home. It will be great to have everyone home, even for a few days.

This year, it’s a different kind of Christmas. But it will be just fine. Perhaps, even festive.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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