When I am too much in my own head, I miss what is obvious. Red berries on a bush. A dark bird sailing across a light sky. It is winter and the palette of the outside is stark except where a green blush clings to some lawns.

The house next door is small and yellow. There is a saggy green awning above the door. This has been about to fall off for the entirety of the three years we’ve been here. When snow falls, it collects in the center. Every storm, I am certain the whole thing will come down.

But so far, it remains. Saggy but in place.


The false shamrock is looking droopy. I have traumatized it for the sake of transporting a few portions across the country. Three little bulbs, I unearthed and transferred into new pots.

I often wonder about the history of this plant—the trail of ancestors and offspring that brought this piece of it to me. It is not native to North America. Someone collected and transported it, carrying a cutting or a seed or a young plant. Or perhaps a mature specimen in a pot. This one was a birthday gift from a friend for my husband on his 40th.

It is a good companion. Colorful. Exuberant. Always personable and perky. It folds its leaves each night, opens them in the morning, and sometimes presses itself against the window pane as if trying to get a better look outside.


The clock that ticks on the wall has become an old friend. It’s a cheap thing—something Brian had when we moved in together. But it’s been marking our shared time for over a decade and a half.

It’s not something I value in a particular way. For years, I wanted to replace it. But I never did. Because it’s here. It works. It does its job and does not do any harm. And now it is part of the peace I have found and made in this little green house.


Paws beside my computer screen. The warm weight of an upside down Australian Shepherd on my foot.


When my dog wants the end of the couch, I shift my habit. And from this seat, a sycamore fills the window. Its leaves are the color of pale rust. They are crispy and dry for the winter. Most of the other trees are bare. But not this one. Much of its foliage has yet to let go.

Leaves and branches stir in a breeze, revealing how air eddies and flows, loops and dances. The trailing branches make me think of submerged vegetation. It is something I never realized until recently. Atmosphere and ocean. They are the same thing.


We move hay in the old barn with new siding, shifting it from upstairs to downstairs. Brian puts the bales on the slide Mitchell tacked in place. I receive them, carry them across the empty space, stack them against the wall.

The air fills with dust as we work. Light slants in through the windows. Stray strands of grass cling to cobwebs. The palettes on the floor shift beneath my weight. There is an old horseshoe on a nail near the ceiling. One of Arlo’s? Or is it older than that? What horse’s foot was it tacked to for a time? Who forged it, shaped it, nailed it in place? Was it that same person who, later, pulled it free?

There are stories everywhere. And mostly, I cannot know them.


My horse’s coat is thick and fuzzy for winter. And he has rolled in mud. There are stiff dongles in his mane, caked layers on his hocks. It takes me ages to make any headway. But he is grateful when I get in there behind his ear with the curry comb. He lowers his head to give me better access.

It is a challenging ride. Even at 23, he is not easy. He will never be easy. It’s not in him to relax and turn off his thoughts. He is emotional. He is energetic. He feels way too much. Sensation overwhelms him. All I can do is try to help.

I often don’t know if I get it right. But today, when I dismount, he swings his huge, gentle head around. He wuffs into my shirt. I hold still for a moment. I still my body. I still my thoughts. I let myself be. Be with him. Not asking. Not telling. Just existing with this other soul I know so well.

He is not human and yet he is no less for that. In fact, I often think he is more.


Sometimes, on these dark winter mornings, I light a candle. It flickers while I write and fills the air with the scent of beeswax and honey.


My orchids send out their spikes, always growing towards the light. It means the blooms, when they come, are often facing away from me, towards the window.

I used to think it would be nicer if they grew the other way, oriented inwards so I could see the flowers better. After all, I work all year to foster happiness in these plants. It is a long and slow labor of observation and care. When they are able to bloom, it means I’ve done my job well. Shouldn’t they appreciate my time and attention?

But really, I should not expect anything to go against its nature. And I don’t need to be thanked. To see them thrive is its own reward.

I can take this as a gentle reminder instead. Flowers turn their faces towards the sun. They gaze out and up. I should do the same.