Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Looking forward from this winter solstice

The Solstice, the turning of the year. We just passed through the 2007 winter solstice. Even though we aren’t through with winter, the days will get longer from now until the summer solstice. Day length is a trend of cheer all though the period of quiet and cold. But the quiet season should be a time for reflection. The solstice happens at a time that feels frantic to me. But now, I feel like I have two weeks between semesters and after holiday antics, and now I hope to think over where I’ve been and where I’m going. I have decided to visualize where I’d like to be as a writer next year at this time. Perhaps you’d like to try that too!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Women in the Arctic

I’ve been asked to write an article about women working on global warming in the
Arctic and the lives of the three women I’ve interviewed have amazed me. I can’t imagine deciding on a solo trip around the world for a honeymoon (of course, beginning with the Arctic). Or leaving my two year old son for 2 and a half months to be stranded on an ice shelf counting the gullet contents of small birds. It seems impossible to me. But I suspect some of the things I’ve done would have seemed impossible to my parents and grandparents.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I just finished teaching a first year seminar on Wellsprings of Courage. It was a fascinating class because of all the insights the students brought for discussion. One conclusion we reached is that it’s almost impossible to see one’s own courage. Another point was that the approachability of the courageous person has a big effect on whether or not we felt they could serve as an example to inspire our own courage. Whatever your definition of courage is, who do you know personally who you consider courageous? Do they inspire you or do you feel you could never be like them?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Snow Effect

Have you ever been alone in a cocoon of snow? I read Verlyn Klinkenborg’s editorial in the NYT this morning on driving in snow. It reminded me of a day when I drove from Washington to Baltimore along the Parkway in a gentle, continuous snowstorm. I had finished reviewing graduate fellowship applications and was going to visit my daughter at Goucher College. The tall pines and shorter spruces and firs accepted inches of delicate snow capping the dark green branches with impossibly balanced superstructure. I turned off the radio and felt mesmerized by the soft flakes drifting down to light on top of the branches. I never saw one that completely toppled over. I kept expecting that soon one would have to drop its burden. A few times I saw a slide from one side of a branch, leaving the delicate stack on the other side untouched. I could barely drive for watching this dance. The suspence of not knowing if or when I’d see a whole branch shed its snow was delicious. Think about times when snow, rain, some form of weather became more visible than usual to you.