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Hands-Free Living

Even the lilies in the garden

Do you juggle your way down the path on your exercise walk, fingers tangled in your spaghetti mess of wires to your iThis or iThat? I find my knuckles knocking with my berry bucket, sunglasses, phone and my vagabond eyeglasses, maybe the hose and a clump of wet wash to hang before I head out somewhere important, like blackberry picking.


Yesterday I literally ran away from my house, leaving no note, my phone on the table, my eyeglasses wandering the house aimlessly, and laundry flapping in the breeze. It felt so good to breathe and know the only multi-tasking going on in that moment was my head, my heart and my soul enjoying this walk. No phone calls. No photos. No notes to self. No clothespins. Nuttin’.

Might you consider some hands-free living this weekend?
My car has a hook-up doodle thing that lets me use my phone without crashing in to light poles. Hands-free dialing they call it.
I like that fine. I do get to take care of a few phone calls calmly in my car if I am in a good cell coverage spot. Here in the Berkshires that is not always the case. Much to my benefit, I think.

But. You. There, you, the one reading this post and so grateful I am that you are reading me today. What about your hands?

Can you free them up to pet your cat today?
Could you free your hands to hug a kid with nothing but your fingers pressing in to their tender skin?
Could you free your hands to just wrap your fingers around a clump of berries, showering blue in to your bucket, just like Sal in Robert McCloskey’s Blueberries for Sal?
Plink plink Plunk?

blueberry picking with Cat and Anna
blueberry picking with Cat and Anna

I did some double fisted berry picking today.
I found my left and right hands so happy to be engaged in collecting summer in to my strawberry box to take home for the big kids at my table.

My hands are big and tan and a bit wrinkly right now as I look at them, but smooth skinned for all the weather they see, the water, yarn, paint and glue that run through my fingers, my hands like to be free to engage in the world.

I notice so many people with phones and other stuff in their hands all day long.
Granted, the eyeglasses are safer there than in my pocket.
The phone in my hands means I won’t tip it in to the rain barrel bending over to fill up my watering bucket. But, this weekend, as I travel north, I am going to make a conscious choice to keep my hands free. I will report in over the next week on Hands-Free Living on the Laundry Line.

Play Free

Catherine and I have a secret way of holding pinkies when our hands are too sweaty to hold, or if holding her Mom’s hand might tarnish her reputation. But, both she and Ben still like to hold on to my hands. I love to hold JNB’s hands. Major romance in hand holding.
All this, instead of a phone or glasses or anything else.

The better to hug you with my dear.
Love, S

Saying Yes to the UP, for sure



Where I come from is very flat. I could roll a marble down the streets of my town and only have to run after it once. That would be when we approach the bluff above Lake Michigan and my glass eye makes for the rushes along the shore- or this week my pearly orb aims for the wintry layers of ice. My town is filled with wonderful people who have funny nicknames like “One Armed Sharkey” or “Fuzz ball”. They are rather committed to the obvious there on the northern shores of Lake Michigan.

I like my town. We have the best library though the ladies there are not so indulgent with out-of-towners like me. I no longer have the power of my Mom beside me to still any questioning of who I might be and where from. I have been a card-carrying daughter of a local for many more years than I actually lived there.

My Mom is living in a nursing home now. My Stepdad does not believe in reading, so he had no card to offer me. I did get to check out some books by way of a gracious gentleman who shared a table with my Stepdad. Looking up from the jigsaw puzzle he labored over, Bud raised his bushy eyebrows to offer me the indulgence of his card privileges, as long as I pledged to return the books in a timely fashion. So, I went home with a stack of art books to keep me company by the fire. I dug around at home to find Mom’s library card and tucked it away for next time.

I was in the UP for my Stepdad’s 90th birthday. We had quite a party complete with wine over lunch and a wonderful long story of his life in the UP. He is a forester and one of the earliest graduated from MSU. He and his cronies know the landscape with an eye for profit for the paper companies in forest products. They also know how to land walleye and survive the black flies. We celebrated Pa in the grandest fashion he would allow, balloons on the table and everything.

I visited my Mom. She is in a home with all sorts of people her age and older suffering from the rainbow of maladies the elderly endure. Mom has emerged from a 9-month bout with seeming nearly dead. Now, it is possible to have a bit of conversation with her and delight in her laughter, which makes all the hassle of getting there effortless. She is impish in her wheelchair and naughtily unlatches her seat belt, causing alarms to ring down the hall. She loves to read whatever she lays her eyes upon. I consider painting her walls with stories, because she would read them, one word at a time. Some moments were better than others, but it was a visit all the same, and much better than sitting next to what I thought would soon be her dying body. This was much more fun.

I like my town and I like my family. I like the friends I made when I lived there. They are among my most precious treasures. So are the memories of ice-skating way out on the bay to see fisherman working or walking the alleys with Mom collecting dandelions for our guinea pig. Kids I grew up with terrorized people by stealing carrots from backyard gardens. This weekend it rained on the snow and ice, so skating was dismal, but romantic all the same. The Upper Peninsula yields its beauty to those who can endure the flies, the weather and the nicknames, even if you are a visitor.

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