Monday, December 15, 2014


The Thinking Place Sleeps
Dearest Readers,
Winter weather, snow and ice have brought the Thinking Place Project to a halt for the time being.  My future place for abiding slumbers on the hill in my front field like a thatched and frosted moon pie that has surrendered to the cold, dim December days.

Up close, the unfinished sides and roof seem to have collapsed into the mounting white landscape. There’s a silent prickly beauty to it, but I cannot proceed.

 My stores of sticks are buried in the snow, and I cannot easily forage for downed branches, or cut new ones in the deep snowy fields and forest. 
My Stick pile #1-Mostly buried in snow
Stick pile #2-Mostly buried in snow
Etta is light enough that she walks on top of  the refrozen, crusty snow. This is a boon to her freedom and ability to run free, but hard-walking for me as my legs plunge down through the fragile top layer.
Etta listens to the world near the Thinking Place

Here she is inside The Thinking Place, sniffing around while I photograph the empty space from the partially open roof.
Etta inside the unfinished space
Construction to be continued in the Spring…
Sleep tight, little hut.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Front of the hut in the field after the 6th snowfall-11.20.2014
Back of the hut 11.20.2014


Dearest Readers,
Building The Thinking Place is like knitting a rough-hewn mohair sweater. I am not trimming stray branches yet, so the entire process is a build-up of interwoven boughs with all the offshoots and filigreed ends still attached.  Sometimes it resembles a rat’s nest. I harvested two additional supple maple sproutlings to add to the arched bones of the sides and roof. Now I’m stacking and twining sticks, hand-sawing and puzzle-piecing them up and up the arched supports.

I will need to fill in the spaces between boughs, but not yet.  As I construct the shell, I am slowing down to listen to the wood itself. I sense that there is a secret aesthetic that will be revealed if I have faith in the process and take the time to feel and hear. Right now I'm not sure what I'm doing, except that I'm keeping on. The increasing cold temperatures and snow on the ground is adding to the time it takes me to proceed.

Here's my progress in pictures during the last three weeks:
Testing the suppleness of a maple seedling for a roof support
Sawing the seedling for an arched support
Trying unsuccessfully to bend the third roof support-10.26.2014
The third branch support cracks-10.26.2014
Third and fourth branch supports added for the roof and sides 10.31.2014
Building up the back and sides 11.3.2014
Sticks rising up the back and sides 11.5.2014
Back view-11.10.2014
Back view-11.11.2014
Front view-11.13.2014
Back view after 2nd snowfall-11.14.2014
Front view after the 2nd snowfall-11.14.2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Cecelia inside the ancient maple, oil on canvas_8.5" x 14"_2014
There is a fork in a branch
of an ancient enormous maple...
I climbed up
to the perch
and this time looked
not into the distance but at
the tree inself; its trunk 
contorted by the terrible struggle
of that time when it had its hard time.
After the trauma it becomes less solid.
It may be some such time now comes upon me.
It would have to do with the unaccomplished,
and with the attempted marriage
of solitude and happiness.
-Gallway Kinnell (1927-2014)
Vermont state poet, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Award
Inside the guts of an ancient maple
Dearest Readers,
I wish to become an ancient maple like the grande dames that stand like wise, sentinels along Hapenny Road here in Peacham Vermont. I wrote about these last summer in a blog entitled: The Hallof the Mountain Maples.

If this wish is impossible, I want to sink deep inside a hollow belly, squeeze next to an exposed maple heart or merge along a downed log, mingling myself within this natural kinship. I recognize the knurls, and rough-hewn skin in my own hands and face. I want to be inside the trees and paint them.
Squeezed inside an ancient maple–hallowed straight out to the other side

Nestling against twisted bark

Lying along a fallen trunk

My head behind a fallen body

Giving my arm to a limbless trunk

Growing my arm from a stump

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Etta in her "pet parka" with extra velcro tab I sewed to the back end. I'm tempted to get her "mutt-luks" for her paws

Dearest Readers,
Etta (my dog) and I have been ready for the Vermont winter for almost a month. It finally snowed on Friday. There was a distinctive cold snowy smell in the air, and an otherworldly dim gray lighting that enveloped the landscape. The leaves are really off the trees now. Bare brown branches creaked and clattered in the wind, disappearing into the slurry of thick white sky. Most of the day the flurries were miniscule white dots blowing horizontally, and sometimes in small circles. The roads stayed clear. 

The start of the snow flurries from my upstairs front window

Snow building up on the raspberry canes. Flurries thick in the air.
Final snow Saturday morning from my front window–a light dusting as it turned out
Snow is old hat to the local Vermonters, and a source of pride in their own hardiness,  but I’m registering a mix of excitement and trepidation. I haven’t driven in Vermont snow since 1980.  Will I remember how and be brave on the roads?  

I'll close with a photo gallery of all the paraphernalia I've accumulated to keep me and Etta warm and mobile this winter. Vermonters are serious about warm gear. I've had a lot to learn.

Studded snow tires for my little Scion XB

snow shovel is ready

A serious windshield scraper is ready–(I used to use a credit card in Atlanta to remove ice)

Spiked walking stick and ski pole are ready

Purchased clothes: warm slacks, wool blend socks, tight knit ski hat, down vest, full insulated underwear, wooly lined slippers, and deep-tread-waterproof-puffy-interior hiking boots
Donated clothes: fleece jacket, scarf, heavy gloves, lined raincoat, turtlenecks, wool sweater, over-the-boot waterproof spats for legs and ankles, and wool blend tops. Not shown: ear muffs, face and neck muff, down parka, and a combination face-neck-head wind protector.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


The Thinking Place facing Northwest with two sugar maple saplings as support bones
Dearest Readers,
Status update:
A strained back required a two-week hiatus, but I’m back to building my lovely hut in the field here in Peacham, Vermont. Aging and my own bone fragility frustratingly required patience and trust that this body would heal itself if I would be kind to it, and not push too much. Pain meant no gain. 
Here's the sequence of events that unfolded over five days this week:

Two ideal curved maple saplings growing in the lower field
I saw down sapling number 1
Sawing down sapling number 2
Pulling the sapling over the rock wall up the hill to the site
Testing the arch of sapling number 2 at the Thinking Place site
Positioning sapling number 1-harder than it looks!
Positioning sapling number 2
View of support bones facing East-left side with too gradual a slope. The branch would not curve symmetrically.
Tying the two arched supports with twine
More hut building to come this week, dear readers,  weather and back permitting.