coming home

sunset w mistA piece just up at MomEggReview, ‘Coming Home’ shares my love of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. It is also the basis for my husband and I moving our young family there some 23 years back. Not to the NE Kingdom, but to VT. Which is another story… How Chittenden County – which houses Burlington where we ended up the last 8 years, but also Jericho, our first 14 – is said to have the advantage of being near VT. The ‘real’ VT being God’s country, the afore-mentioned NE Kingdom.

While life ‘near’ VT – on the other side of Mt. Mansfield and in its shadow – saw our younger three children through high school and into the colleges of their choices, the early years of vacationing at “The Verm”* established a foundation for a deep sense of place, a shared vocabulary of experience and meaning for us as a family.

During this time of social distancing and staying put, it is oddly comforting that MomEggReview has released this wonderful collection of non-fiction essays called “Here at Home.” What better time to reflect on what home really means, especially as we might be temped to feel trapped or triggered by small things that begin to feel huge. For my part, I stand by this writing. While my soul home has shifted from the mountains of VT to the shore of MA, I still get the familiar anticipatory shiver up my spine as I drive that final five miles; still look for Clarence and Clarissa; still enjoy lingering sunsets. Still bask in the peace and invigoration of communion with earth, air, stars.

* My dad coined the term ‘microverm’ to describe my parents’ dream spot – a little piece of Vermont – during the decades they searched for it. The name stuck, shortened, once they found this corner of heaven some 50 years ago.

 

Five Poems for my Late Husband

pier 1It seems I haven’t posted anything for 16 months. Sounds about right, that being the approximate period of the final slide of my beloved husband’s physical health toward the end. So it seems fitting that what I post today is a selection of the poems I’ve been working on in that time. They are part of a larger collection I am hoping to complete and publish in the near future. Whatever that actually means today… But my intention remains clear.

If you are dealing with your own loss – or struggling to help a loved one through tough illness – or just looking for some serious love poems, these may be what you need today. In any case, I appreciate your time and attention to them; and as always, welcome your comments, responses, associations and stories.

http://www.sixfold.org/PoWinter19/Bartlett.html

in which i learn the difference between ‘blur’ and ‘out of focus’

me with granddaughter alice, by jim hester

It is an undeniably sweet picture.  When I first saw it on my husband’s camera, I felt a small twinge that (it seems) manifested as a sigh, or catch of my breath; something easily (and apparently) interpreted as disappointment. 

In fact, it was surprise. I had not anticipated the image being so … out of focus. My husband is a masterful photographer, winner of awards and seller of his prints at art shows. He prides himself on his artistry, whether the subject be landscape, tight leaf shot or portrait. So I had some context for my initial, um, surprise.

This was a parting shot of myself with my newest grand-child, Alice. She and her family had spent the Thanksgiving holiday with us and our hosting daughter. At the time of this photo, her family was saying its goodbyes in preparation for their return drive to points south. A precious moment, captured.

When I expressed my surprise at the unfocused nature of this shot – especially in comparison with the quite clear pictures taken before and after – my husband patiently explained to me the intentional artistry involved in creating a ‘blurred’ shot in which the camera moves slowly to create a soft brush-stroke effect. If it were simply out of focus, he said, edges would be unclear and the whole would be unidentifiable.

As always, I am grateful for his artistic eye and for the intention with which he creates his chosen art form. It IS a beautifully watercolor-like image and one I shall cherish. In fact, the longer I look at it, the more it invokes two of my favorite mother-child artists: Mary Cassatt and Pablo Picasso … Yes, my husband is a figure artist with his lens.  And he has captured, in this BLURRED still life, the essence of a weekend filled with love and loving moments, each one crystal clear; though, in toto, they collage into something of a blur.