Author Archives: rebsuebauder

May is moving along


May is rapidly moving along, under-performing in moisture, but cold enough to retain the snow pack levels in the mountains. Snow is predicted above 5000 feet tonight. The farmer’s market newsletters are reporting that they are at least two weeks behind in their planting. The Flower Moon has been bright and full the past few days, and in some parts of the country, people were able to see the lunar eclipse. Bushes and trees are greening up daily, and the tiny, delicate violets are popping up between stones on the terrace. I’ve watered them a bit when they begin to droop, and beg them to hang on and provide a bit of cheer in this cold.

I’ve thought that our weather lines up with how the world feels writ large. How is it possible to have such bad news, day after day after day. Covid, which we tried to wish away, appears to be dramatically on the rise again with the latest variants. I’ve ordered the latest free tests, and stocked up on N-95 masks, also from the federal government, which were being given away at a local grocery store. “Just take as many as you want from the grocery cart,” said the clerk at check-out. And, both Don and I had our second booster shot on Monday. We just keep sheltering in place. We have decided it’s worth the risk to see our families, who we miss so much, and we joined the Billings family in Coeur d’Alene for Anna’s soccer tournament, and my birthday celebration on Mother’s Day. We shared an Airbnb, and ate there so we could avoid restaurants, and it was wonderful to be together. We’ll go to Billings over Memorial Day for Duncan’s high school graduation, and fly out to California mid-June to squeeze those grandkids. It’s so essential to our mental health.

My sister reminded me this morning that today marks twenty-five years since our mother died. She died of a broken heart–but, that’s a story for a novel someone should write about my family of origin. It was many years before all my memories of her were sad ones, but, in the past years, finally, there are so many good and sweet ones. Recently, I’m remembering so much about my childhood in northern Ohio, including how we used to have sauteed dandelion greens in May. It was very satisfying to dig up the roots in the damp earth, with that special garden tool, in cool spring air. She soaked them in the sink with lots of water to clean them, and when they were cooked, they were splashed with cider vinegar. I have kept several 3×5 index card recipes she gave me when I was first married, and love running my fingers over her handwriting. On most of them, she had written under the title, “a real poverty dish”. I am quite certain the dandelion greens were a stable of Depression times in West Virginia, where her parents came from.

Time moves on. On my birthday, I’d outlived my mother by two years. It was Fletcher’s, my first grandchild, 21st birthday yesterday, and Duncan turns 18 today. It doesn’t seem very long ago that Duncan told me the dandelion flowers, after they’d gone to seed and were fun to blow into the air, looked like ballgowns. We wish that time would move on, past the cold spring days, past Covid, and all the unwinding in the world which causes so much anxiety. It’s so easy to miss seeing any beauty with all the weeds in our midst.

A Dandelion for My Mother, by Jean Nordhaus

How I loved those spiky suns,  
rooted stubborn as childhood  
in the grass, tough as the farmer’s  
big-headed children—the mats  
of yellow hair, the bowl-cut fringe.  
How sturdy they were and how  
slowly they turned themselves  
into galaxies, domes of ghost stars  
barely visible by day, pale  
cerebrums clinging to life  
on tough green stems.   Like you.  
Like you, in the end.   If you were here,  
I’d pluck this trembling globe to show  
how beautiful a thing can be  

a breath will tear away. 

Beltaine Eve


This month has been the coldest April since 1997. That was the first spring of our move from Colorado to Montana, after the snowiest winter here on record, and I wondered how I’d ever survive this state’s weather. I’ve come to love that we are on the edge of the Pacific Northwest zone, so we usually get their storms, even if moisture is often squeezed out by the mountain ranges in between. There is never enough moisture these days in the west, but, on this side of the continental divide, we are luckier.

BUT…man, by the end of April, we are all ready for some warmth anyway. Despite the cold, the sun is now high in the sky and sunsets are getting so late. The bedroom glows when I go to bed. There are lots of windows and the french doors in our bedroom, as well as a full-length mirror on the back of the door leading out of the room. When I lay my head down to sleep, I can look into that mirror from my pillow and see the lingering pink and gold light of sunset over the mountains west of the lake. I do think it’s a pleasant sleep aid. I hung our sheets on the clothesline for the first time of the season last Sunday–it’s been too rainy and cold since then. It takes me longer these days, but I did it, and feeling the air off the lake while listening to the call of the Towhee birds while I placed the wooden pins, made it worth the effort. The reward is, of course, a bed made with sheets fresh off the line. Joy has been doing this very fun Storyworth project with me, in which every Monday I get a new question to answer about my life. At the end of the year, I guess she will have compiled a memoir of sorts from me. Last week’s question was to talk about my favorite smells, and the first one that came up was the smell of laundry which my mother had hung on the clothesline, and how my siblings and I would hide under the tents made by the fluttering sheets.

Tomorrow, it’s another one of those wonderful old Celtic celebrations, Beltaine. Every six weeks in that pagan tradition, there is a holiday of sorts–which I think is a splendid way to mark the passing of seasons, particularly winter. Beltaine falls midway between the winter solstice and the summer solstice and signals that Mother Earth is renewing herself. Cattle were returned home from their winter feeding grounds and bonfires were made to welcome the sun’s return. Like May Day, which has become the modern holiday, a bush, usually Hawthorn, was decorated with ribbons. Flowers, especially yellow ones, were made into wreaths and brought into homes. Like most Celtic rituals, the eve of the holiday is when the boundary between human and supernatural worlds was erased and it was important to be on the lookout for witches and fairies who might cause mischief. For some reason, dusting was to be avoided at all costs, and I’ve embraced that rule this week-end as I see dust bunnies gathered in the corner in the new light of spring.

There are little buds and tight furls of green on the ends of branches. I noticed this morning that the twisty vine that wraps itself around trees is showing small green leaves. I think it’s the Virgin’s Bower which means there will soon be delicate lavender blossoms here and there on the vine. (I often think that someone must have written a fairy tale of how a young virgin, in a lavender gown, has wrapped herself around an unwanted suitor, squeezing him to death–okay, a very dark fairy tale!). The underground spring up on the road is beginning to flow again, and is making the road wet where it is rising closer to the surface. A tiny yellow and purple pansy bloomed in the cracks between the stones on the terrace, and it lived for a few days on the window sill in the little vase Duncan made for me in his pottery class. The osprey are home and hanging out in their nests. And, the loons are back. First there was their haunting call a few days ago, and yesterday, I went down by the lake to watch them glide by close to shore. Bit by bit, with rain and sunshine, spring is emerging. It’s like that lovely line from a poem by the Irish poet, Derek Mahon–“in a tide of sunlight between shower and shower”.

We’ve all been through so much these past two years and there are wounds and scars to go around. There is so much to be afraid of right now in the world, and all feels so fragile. But, “the sun rises in spite of everything” and, in springtime, in our best moments, which we must tenderly protect, there are times when it can feel like, “everything is going to be all right.”

Everything is Going to be All Right

How should I not be glad to contemplate
the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window
and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?
There will be dying, there will be dying,
but there is no need to go into that.
The poems flow from the hand unbidden
and the hidden source is the watchful heart.
The sun rises in spite of everything
and the far cities are beautiful and bright.
I lie here in a riot of sunlight
watching the day break and the clouds flying.
Everything is going to be all right.

Derek Mahon, from Selected Poems

Spring Equinox 2022


“…every year one day comes when, although there is no obvious change in the appearance of trees and hedges, the Earth seems to breathe and it is spring.”–Elizabeth Clarke, The Darkening Green

We’ve heard and seen the robins in the past week or so, and the House Finch is a new bird song I picked up on my Merlin app the other day, bringing the total to four new birds so far. Ice has melted from most of the ponds and the returning pair of Canada geese are patiently standing on Johnson’s Pond, confident it will melt in time for their nesting. The full Worm Moon has been as big and bright as was the Harvest Moon. The trees and hedges are seemingly invisible in waking up, but we have come to that point, anyway, where there is equal day and night.

We flew to California to see our families early in this month! It was so wonderful to be with them all and a tonic for the soul during these final dreary days of winter here in Montana. The California sunshine was splendid and to be part of their lives for even a week just filled our hearts. There are several week-ends this spring in which the Billings family will be coming through town, and a trip together in Coeur d’Alene to celebrate May birthdays and to watch Anna’s soccer tournament. It feels like a coming out from a long hibernation for me and and involves brave testing of the water a bit, after hiding out from Covid. All this moving on in life feels so tentative with Ukrainians hiding out in bomb shelters from the constant Russian bombing. And can anyone truly breathe freely with Covid mutations a constant fear. But, the seasons change.

Even our weather forecast is looking up. From today’s local report:

“For the first time in quite a while, I can happily inform you that every day during the week next week looks to be mostly sunny to clear. Next week is shaping up to be an incredible week to get outdoors and explore so many of the unique blessings that the treasure state has to offer.”

Yes, the Earth is becoming spring once again. It always happens, but the older I get, the more important it is to recognize how beautiful that is, in spite of all that is not beautiful in the world. Holding it all at the same time is oh so hard. It always has been and always will be, and somehow we must see the lovely world.

“My favorite lines of Charlotte’s Web, the lines that always make me cry, are toward the end of the book. They go like this: ‘These autumn days will shorten and grow cold. The leaves will shake loose from the trees and fall. Christmas will come, then the snows of winter. You will live to enjoy the beauty of the frozen world, for you mean a great deal to Zuckerman and he will not harm you, ever. Winter will pass, the days will lengthen, the ice will melt in the pasture pond. The song sparrow will return and sing, the frogs will awake, the warm wind will blow again. All these sights and sounds and smells will be yours to enjoy, Wilbur — this lovely world, these precious days …’ –Linda Tippets, OnBeing.

Snow Moon


We should have been resigned to the fact that February would bring an Arctic front and more snow. After all, this month’s full moon is called The Snow Moon. And, it was glorious–so big and so high in the sky all night long, and visible in the daytime as well. Until yesterday, there has only been crusted snow remaining under the bushes, though the grass is as hard as a rock when I walk down to the dock. There’s been little activity out on the water–a rare waterfowl or two, an occasional Eagle. When I’m out on the dock, it seems impossible our sailboat will be moored to that lonely buoy in four months. I think that the uncertainly we’ve had to live with for so long now makes even that future seem like something you can’t count on.

We didn’t get more than a few inches of snow, but the temperature is zero this morning–a heat wave compared to much of Montana, and sub-zero nights are on the way for the rest or the week. There was enough sunshine yesterday for sparkles on the snow and the surface of the lake swirled in different directions as the wind tried to make up its mind. As Don says, the big wind chime on the porch makes him shiver, and flags blowing in town revealed the northeast wind that is always so bitter. Just as I was enjoying walks on the golf course cart path, free of ice and snow, and wearing trainers instead of boots. We heard the male red-wing blackbird the other day! No one believed us. February is probably always like this, and even in the early weeks of the month, we were all saying how we needed to build more snow pack. So here we are on 2.22.22.

It’s hard to keep hunting for yet another Netflix series to carry us through. The Olympics were a distraction–if, perhaps, a guilty one, and not very good at distracting us from the world’s dangerous news. It did seem somewhat fitting that the Olympic news as the Games concluded was the poor Finnish Nordic skier whose penis froze in a race. I was sure that Sarah was sharing an Onion headline, but all the major news reported on it. There is still enough time left in a long northwest Montana winter to read a book on Russian history, which I sorely need, but cannot bring myself to go there. It feels like the usual plodding along that happens in mid-February is greatly intensified during these very troubled times.

Later today, I’ll drive by Plantland on my way into town and the sign at the curb will read, “26 days until Spring!” I have to go a tad out of my way to pass the nursery, but, it’s worth it just to refresh my memory of the violets and buttercups and birds that will slowly be on view once the Arctic front moves along its way. I added a Cornell Lab bird app to my phone a week ago, that allows me to record what I hear and make an identification of the bird. I’ve only heard one new one–just a common sparrow. But still…it was worth noticing I thought. It can get us through a hard day sometimes.

Moon – Billy Collins

The moon is full tonight 
an illustration for sheet music, 
an image in Matthew Arnold 
glimmering on the English Channel, 
or a ghost over a smoldering battlefield 

in one of the history plays. 

It’s as full as it was  
in that poem by Coleridge 
where he carries his year-old son 
into the orchard behind the cottage 
and turns the baby’s face to the sky 

to see for the first time 
the earth’s bright companion, 
something amazing to make his crying seem small. 

And if you wanted to follow this example, 
tonight would be the night 
to carry some tiny creature outside 
and introduce him to the moon. 

And if your house has no child, 
you can always gather into your arms 
the sleeping infant of yourself, 
as I have done tonight, 
and carry him outdoors, 
all limp in his tattered blanket, 

making sure to steady his lolling head 
with the palm of your hand. 

And while the wind ruffles the pear trees 
in the corner of the orchard 
and dark roses wave against a stone wall, 
you can turn him on your shoulder 
and walk in circles on the lawn 
drunk with the light. 

You can lift him up into the sky, 
your eyes nearly as wide as his, 
as the moon climbs high into the night.

February 2022


“FEBRUARY. Frosty, Feisty, Fleeting”. I read that somewhere and thought how “fleeting” is the word that has the most appeal, because I am officially admitting that I am weary of Winter. Perhaps, it’s really that I am weary of the dreariness in the world, near and far. A dear, dear friend, who’s been living in the strictest of Covid bubbles the past two plus years, is now quite ill with Covid. I’m dropping off soup today for another dear, dear friend, who goes to the hospital for her weekly chemotherapy. In watching the PBS Newshour broadcast last night, there was a segment showing the diplomats at the United Nations, weeping and gnashing over what to do about Russia and Ukraine. They were, of course, all masked and I thought about a photo of them, in a history textbook someday, in which the author wrote about the time when the whole world was terrified of the breath from another human being. We didn’t make it to Candlemas at our house and the goal of keeping the Christmas tree up inside. There were bright sunshine days in a row about a week ago, and more light in the sky, and I felt we didn’t need the fairy lights inside anymore, so we put the lit tree out on the porch, which was a lovely compromise. It blew over in the winds of the latest weather front, but Don tied it up to the railing, thank goodness, because I do need it on these dreary days.

It’s actually lightly snowing today–which is a nice change. We’re supposed to have a couple of nights of sub-zero temperatures with this Arctic front which blew in. After being ahead, we’re now behind in snow pack, and snow in February is always a good thing, even if one proclaims they are tired of Winter. I am quite certain the groundhog will see his shadow tomorrow, so we trudge on in this season, in everyone’s least favorite month. I find a wee bit of poetry from the Irish can help on a days where you need to ‘Lie low to the wall/Until the bitter weather passes.”

This is the Time to be Slow, John O’Donohue

“This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall

Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.” 

Mid-Winter 2022


Bottom line: Enjoy the full-looking moon for a night or two on either side of January 17, 2022, when it brings the northerly latitudes some good cheer on this long winter night. EarthSky

We’ve just passed the mid-point of January now. I know February can be cold and snowy, but the returning light will slowly start to show itself on Candlemas, February 1st, when sheep began making milk again in the ancient Celtic world. We’ll take out the Christmas tree then, whose little lights have lit the dark, foggy days and nights. So, just two weeks to go before I dare to listen for the male red-wing black bird’s return and the tiny, tiny incremental rustlings of Spring on the wing. I know it’s a classic case of “is the glass half empty or half full”, but living in the north country requires such thinking if one is to endure. And, with the Omicron variant raging in our ranks and the world’s news, it’s hard to concentrate on more than just enduring what’s here right now, and living with such an uncertain future. And, I know I know…it’s too early to think about Spring.

Yet, after weeks of solid ice covering all but the major roads, and recent fog every single day, the past few days have given us a little break. The sun has broken through in the afternoons, paths of dry pavement have revealed themselves for walks without spikes, and the sunsets have been show stoppers. And, now, the full Wolf Moon is filling our bedroom all night long. John sent me a photo early this morning of the moon setting over the East Rosebud and I sent him a photo of it setting over the quiet lake. The moon makes me believe in Hope again this morning…there have been days this January in which hope has been dormant. As today’s writer on Earth/Sky well knows, this moon brings good cheer on a long winter’s night. And, like Wendell Berry, it will be good also to melt.

by Wendell Berry

How exactly good it is
to know myself
in the solitude of winter,
my body containing its own

warmth, divided from all
by the cold; and to go
separate and sure
among the trees cleanly
divided, thinking of you
perfect too in your solitude,
your life withdrawn into
your own keeping
—to be clear, poised
in perfect self-suspension
toward you, as though frozen.

And having known fully the
goodness of that, it will be
good also to melt.

New Year’s Day 2022


We go up to the garage and watch our loved ones drive away after their visits. It’s always sad to see them drive up the road, make the sharp right turn, and disappear from view. This time, Val and family walked up to the highway to meet Joy and Rich, who had to park their van up on the highway, as it could not navigate our slippery road. They drove them down to Missoula and the family had an epic journey of delayed flights back to California–as so many people did for this Life in the Time of Covid Christmas holiday. We were so grateful to be together, in spite of it all.

It was the kind of Christmas the California grandkids had wished for–cold and snowing and the pond through the woods froze for ice skating. Every day, they bundled up and headed out to shovel the new snow on the ice for hockey, and they sledded down the absent neighbor’s steep road. We played board games by the fire, and ten-year old Eamon taught me how to play Gin Rummy. We laughed at our favorite Christmas movies, all squeezed into the library. Once the Billings family arrived, twelve of us fit around the dining room table for meals at night and the house was filled with light and laughter. I managed to get into bed at a reasonable hour for my health issues each night, and even when I was a layabout with my legs elevated, I didn’t feel I was missing out. In fact, one of my favorite moments was when I was resting, eyes closed, in the middle of the living room, trying to gather my wits about me to manage this neural pain. I could hear the murmurs of the three teenagers, sitting in a circle by the fire, as they made jewelry together and listened to their Spotify playlists. In the library, Fletcher, now nearly 21 years old, was sitting next to Eamon on the sofa, watching football. Eamon likely has never watched a football game, and Fletcher had an eager audience for his passion. Their Q&A was adorable. My daughters and husbands and Grandon were all making dinner together, shaking margaritas, drinking wine, laughing and talking. I thought my heart would break open in joy and gratitude to have all this in my life, after such a tough year.

Rita and Lee came by for a New Year’s Eve soup dinner early last night, and I tried to find a Spotify playlist, but they all had names such as “Dumpster Fire 2021 Playlist”. We talked about how bad it has been, the personal health news that’s profoundly changed our lives, the sad events. We discussed the horrendous fire in Boulder and how maybe 1000 homeowners lost their houses at the end of this year. The news had just come in that Betty White had died, just shy of making it to her 100th birthday, and it felt like another assault from the Universe. We had awakened yesterday morning to a power outage, freezing in the house with 5 degrees outside. It took seven hours before the heat came on, and I fought back tears most of the morning at how awful all of it has been this past year. But, by evening’s close, we had laughed much more than we had cried. And, I went to sleep, knowing how tomorrow was a new day, a new year, and, in that, there is new hope. Happy New Year’s to us all.

From Letters of Note by Shaun Usher:

30 March 1973

Dear Mr. Nadeau:

As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society—things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

Hang onto your hat. Hang onto your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.


E. B. White

Solstice 2021


Tomorrow, we will have reached the Winter Solstice. Family from California are scheduled to arrive mid-day and we will do our customary walk out on the north end of the lake, looking for any light in the sky, on the year’s darkest day. There have been years we’ve ice skated, but the thunder which happened yesterday morning announced the warm over-riding air which has blocked the arctic front. But…who knows, like life itself, it could change in an instant. My favorite solstice poem is the one I’ve posted here several times through the years–Winter Sheep by Tom Hennen. I have three little woolen sheep figures, bought years ago from a local art cooperative. They were made with wool from sheep ranches in Idaho and I bring them out each winter to sit on a table in front of the dining room window. I’ve taken many photos of them with winter sunlight back-lighting their curly hair, and before I put them away in the drawer, they sit in the midst of a green shamrock plant in early March.

But–especially in these bleak times with so much bad news from far and near–there is something about the poem’s line, “In the darkness of the barn their woolly backs were full of light gathered on summer pastures.” Reciting it in my head at 3 am can lull me back to sleep on these long dark winter nights, reminding me to look for the light in all the darkness.

Sheep in the Winter Night, by Tom Hennen

Inside the barn the sheep were standing, pushed close to one
another. Some were dozing, some had eyes wide open listening
in the dark. Some had no doubt heard of wolves. They looked
weary with all the burdens they had to carry, like being thought

of as stupid and cowardly, disliked by cowboys for the way they
eat grass about an inch into the dirt, the silly look they have
just after shearing, of being one of the symbols of the Christian

religion. In the darkness of the barn their woolly backs were
full of light gathered on summer pastures. Above them their
white breath was suspended, while far off in the pine woods,
night was deep in silence. The owl and rabbit were wondering,
along with the trees, if the air would soon fill with snowflakes,
but the power that moves through the world and makes our
hair stand on end was keeping the answer to itself.

December again…


To Know the Dark, by Wendell Berry

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

I know I am not the only one who has to think about how many Decembers we’ve been through since Covid changed everything. I started out this month by saying…”was that two years or was it three years ago, when Covid hit?” Everything in life suddenly turned upside down. Now, we have the Omicron variant circulating the globe, and we are starting the last month of yet another year, wondering if and when the Terrible Times will be over, or is this just the beginning of the End. And, it’s the darkest month in the year.

So, we’ve lit up the darkness in our house with twinkling lights on the mantle, the stained glass fairy window with tiny white lights in the pantry, and the Grand Fir Christmas tree Don cut, ablaze with both little white lights and colored ones, and all the sparkly ornaments we’ve collected through many years. Actually, the tree was decorated and then undecorated the next morning, when we realized you really can have too many lights. It snowed for the first time, off and on all day yesterday, and we listened to holiday music while we decorated together. And, after dinner, we started our Christmas tradition of watching the holiday movies we love. They’ve re-mastered, or re-colored, the classic Charlie Brown Christmas movie–maybe it’s the new TV we finally bought after so many years. Who doesn’t love seeing all the characters skate on the pond with Snoopy creating mischief in his fantasy of greatness. We really love it–and the whole holiday series (who can watch a football game without thinking of that scene in the Thanksgiving one where Lucy pulls away the football from an unsuspecting Charlie Brown). We remember all the years we sat in the Honea’s living room with the little grandkids, watching each and every season together.

It’s our wedding anniversary today–we got the calculator out and think it’s number 34. For years, we’ve traveled to places we love for fine dining and a city Christmas experience, but, in these years of scary travel, we stay home. We share our cards over coffee in the dark morning, when we are up hours before there is light in the sky. They are always special and each of us tries to out-do the other with some beautiful heart graphics. This year, my card to Don had blue winter trees covered in snow, and I mentioned how I guess They really meant it with that line in the wedding vows “in sickness and in health…”. After there was some crying, I opened his which had a dazzling pop-up of a smiling moon and golden stars and the line, “I love you to the moon and back”. (He said he almost wrote “Alice”. ) We’re watching our absolute favorite movie tonight, Trains, Planes and Automobiles, in which we cannot stop laughing. Maybe the leftover chili served over baked potatoes will be dinner. We light the darkness, however we can. Next stop, is the Winter Solstice. And, then Christmas, when most of my family is coming–hopefully! So, we made it to December again, in all the darkness, and the season will turn, bringing new light in its time. In all of this uncertainty, on that we can depend.


November 1, 2021

It was a beautiful Halloween. We were in Sandpoint and Spokane for the week-end, where Don did a cyclocross race each day at different pumpkin farms and apple orchards in the area. There was not a cloud in the sky and it was cold and crisp and the farms were full of families carrying pumpkins, with children horsing around in the little wagons meant to cart the bounty to their cars. Lots of “Go Daddy!” cheers on the bike course between somersaults and cartwheels. On our drive there, we had the Montana Public Radio signal most of the way and listened to the Pea Green Boat as Bill Harley read scary Halloween stories. Just as the swamp monster stole the kids’ new sneakers stuck in the mud–calling out “Boogada Boogada Boogada”–we lost the transmission– but the gorgeous Pend Orielle Lake came into view and it was stunningly blue and sparkly. On the late afternoon drive home Sunday, shafts of remaining sunlight shot through the Idaho canyons and illuminated the golden tamaracks on the mountain hillsides, as we sped home to beat the first bright planets to appear in the clear violet sky. We reminisced about all the Halloweens we had spent with our family in Billings over the years when the kids were little–their elaborate costumes, the pumpkin carving, the mayhem of kids running around in the dark, maybe lost to their parents. Joy’s adult party, which mercifully came to an end when the entire neighborhood came and never left. Don’s favorite part was when the kids dumped their bags on the living room floor at the end of the night and he paid them money for all of the Almond Joys they’d collected.

We had such a lovely month of October and most of the leaves have now fallen to the ground. There was a good soaking rain towards the end and we are 150% of normal for the water year–which started October 1st. Now it it November and it is DARK DARK DARK in the mornings. If you awaken close to 5 am, like our household, it’s close to 8 am before you feel you can go outside and avoid the lions, tigers and bears. The time change comes this week end and we will be relieved to have a little more light in the morning, as the fire is already started in our living room now by 5 pm for the long dark night about to descend. It’s time to remember how we make it cozy to keep winter’s wolf from the door, and to somehow engage in that eternal human struggle of letting go of what has been, and to create a pause for the new. At the pantry window in this morning’s dark, I could see the bright waning moon over the trees in the east. In just five days, if the skies are clear, I’ll see the new fingernail moon appear over the mountains to our west. On cue for this new month, this new turn of the calendar,my sister emailed Rachel Hackenberg’s poem… I thought it was just right for the day.

The Eve before the New

Oct 31, 2021 | By Rachel Hackenberg

Do not ask us to turn back, O Mother,
or to return to what has been;
although there is beauty in the past,
we cannot remain there
nor do we wish to relive
the milestones of pain and grief that
brought us from the past to this day.

Do not ask us to go back, O Mother,
where the only hope to be found
is in the dirt of fallow fields
where discarded seeds
must be coaxed with tears
to bear a new harvest;
we cannot return to death in search of life.

Here in the thin place between past and future,
ask us only to go forward with you, O Mother:
to seek honey in the wilderness,
to startle upon love that is new,
to pull fresh milk from every day,
to be strangers upheld by mercy and mystery
and never again prisoners of rationed charity.

And if we ask you, O Mother, to let us go back,
tell us then the story of how far we have come

and how much we might yet come to know.
Tell us the story of the deep breath
that awaits us with every dawn,
and of the promise that tomorrow
will not find us alone. Then wait with us for the new.

on Ruth 1:1-18;