Copyright Jay Moore Photography
Copyright Jay Moore Photography

I’m a girl who runs. I’m a girl who runs on cool spring days straight to the lake and back. I’m a girl who runs in a fleece hoodie to angry boy-music.

Red wings flash from the right: No one ever dies.



Why do birds suddenly appear? 42 words for this year, Mom.

Go plant some bulbs

I planted my bulbs yesterday. Luckily I snatched up one of the last few sunny, tolerably cool days left this fall. In other words, perfect bulb-planting weather. I do it every year, and now that the kids are old enough to help me, it only takes an hour or so to plant a few hundred bulbs. Yeah, the soft Midwestern soil helps, too. You can practically dig a hole with a plastic spoon around here.

When I plant my bulbs, I am usually a little sad about wintertime. Winter is hard to look forward to, especially since it lasts for six months here. Planting bulbs is not my last chance to be outside – no, not with three kids. Kids need fresh air and exercise all year, so I find myself outside, at the park, building snowmen, having snowball fights, all winter long. No it’s no longer a last chance, but it is the last time until spring that I spend time outside because I want to.

Planting bulbs is a study in patience. The cold, leaf-covered ground looks like it would rather be left alone. Yesterday was sunny, but it could have just as easily been overcast, even rainy. I still would have been out there, planting. The bulbs themselves are ugly, and confusing – I can never quite tell which side should point up. Once I plant them, and replace the soil, everything looks the same as before I began. Afterward, no one would ever guess that I’d just planted 300 bulbs in the yard.

Then I’m left with a wait. Around here, the earliest bulbs don’t come up until April. That is five long, cold, dark months. All I have to tide myself over is a secret. A new life is overwintering in the snow-covered soil. Chances are I’ll forget all about those bulbs come December. By the time February rolls around it feels like the world will forever be gray. At least around here, winter kind of kills hope.

Sometime around the end of March, I usually find myself drawn outside almost against my will. By March, 30 degrees feels warm, and I can shed my down coat, hat, and boots and have a look around. Usually the kids notice the first green shoots before I do. But there they are, poking up from the muddy garden. It’s awesome.


By the water


It flits by, quietly landing on her arm.

“Look,” I whisper, gently touching her arm near its landing place.

“Oh, a damselfly!” she whispers excitedly.

Of course she knows its proper name, but that doesn’t explain how she attracts these ethereal beings, why they seem to hover around her daily as if they recognize her.

“How do you charm them?” I ask as the damselfly moves away.

She laughs in reply.

Walk with me

Let’s go in the rain-wet air
Why do I always write in poetry?
My step is my meter

I like the dead trees
Their black gray white permanent
Against the temporary greenness.

Walk with me
See the goose on the water below
Cross the bridge with hollow footsteps

Come quickly now
There’s a black dragonfly
A white moth

The field of coneflowers so elusive
Like you
Can you see it, set back from the trail?

Never speak only listen
Hear the birds and the silence
Hear our footsteps

Sun on the muddy forest floor
Spots of light in darkness
Do you see me?



She made her way ahead of me on the path, leading the dog on her leash, in her quiet way. Earlier in the day she had been angry and still tired from a bad night’s rest. Now, settled, she wandered among the scrub and flowers pulling the lazy dog down the grassy path. She stops to watch the hawks circling overhead. She, like me, was being herself, a beautiful, messy-haired seven-year old.

Before I became a mom, I thought that I would want to teach my daughter everything that I know. I mistakenly believed that I needed to learn a certain amount before I would be able to raise her the right way, as if there is even a right way to be a mom. Now that motherhood is my reality, I find myself wanting more to just stand back and watch to see what she becomes.

Just a walk

It’s a heartbreakingly gorgeous morning. I’m taking a long walk with two babies—one, my 18-month old son, the other, my neighbor’s baby girl—both buckled snugly into the double stroller.

We set out to the sound of crying. First stop, the bakery for donuts. My son offers to share his with the baby, but she’s too little. Next, back on our path, we pass a little dress shop. Suddenly aware that I have neither walkers nor talkers in tow, I brave the narrow doorway.

“I have three kids, so I knew two little babies in the stroller would be nothing,” I blurt to the shop girl. I quickly snag a cute dress for next weekend’s date night, and zip back out. I head toward the lake. Baby girl settles, and finally I can think. My steps, deliberate, fall into rhythm with my thoughts.

My mind opens when I can hear the birds singing, when I can see the lake on the horizon, when I can smell the cherry blossoms barely open on their branches. I do have the mom thing down, I know. I can juggle things so that everyone gets what they want some of the time, and that is a gift. But what’s my next challenge? Just as transcendence begins to light the edges of my mind, reality sharpens back into focus. Baby girl cries again, and I wonder—call her mom or brave a quick stop at the park so my son can play on the slide?

I chance the park.