Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Long Journey Home

Last night in paradise...
So much sun!

Welcome home!!!

Backyard reunion

I drove from Boston to Asheville, from city skylines to smoky mountains, in 14 hours. Foot against pedal, cramp in my leg, going crazy driving... I wheeled through the countryside of Massachusetts, through the long, endless state that is Connecticut, through New York, where angry horns and a hundred highways meet, and crossed into New Jersey. Looking to my left I saw the tall silhouette of NYC, shrouded in yellow, cloaked in late-morning light. I sped past and on through Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee.

By sunset, and with three hours ahead of me, I am going mad, singing out loud to keep myself focused, stopping to stretch and regain sanity. In the dark my car pushes south. There is mist on the mountain, draped over the sloping contours of the road through Appalachian territory.

I am home, recovered, rested. Amazed that this month has come and gone, amazed at the fact that my little-green-jelly-bean of a car and I made it from Asheville to Maine and back again. Home is oh, so wonderful. Home is a rolling mountaintop, is a garden bursting with vegetables, is a howling husky dog, a family of friends and a beautiful love that grows and grows….

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Island Days

My sister swims beside me, a medusa's head of hair frames her face, her dark eyes sparkle as she points. A spotted eagle ray glides below us. I look at the majestic creature and watch my sister chase after it. Long brown limbs propel her forward. She is so beautiful, I think, remembering a baby version of Leila. I am under water in a world of blue, watching as she dives deeper. Time is a mysterious force, one which transforms a child into an woman. I marvel at the person before me and hold my breath, willing time to slow down so I may savor this moment, these kicks through Caribbean sea, following my sister, following a ray.  

                                                            Hawksnest Bay




So sun kissed it hurts to cross my legs. When midday sun hovers overhead it consumes all thoughts and there is nothing but one step in front of the next, seeking shade, water, wind. In the evenings we bathe ourselves in aloe. The green slime is immediately soothing on our skin and the plant grows everywhere, a cure for the blistering bulb that hangs over the islands. Leila and I are all-day outside. We’ve hiked from the center of the island to the south coast, which is dry, hot, boiling. We’ve sailed the northern coast from Cinnamon, to Maho and Francis Bay (Leila is the captain and I take orders). Life here, I think, as my sister adjusts the sails or paddles in front of me, is simple, physical, sweltering, breathtakingly beautiful.          

Saturday, June 11, 2011

North Shore Scene

Sweating, we wander the island's narrow shores. The sandy beach of Leinstern turns to stone and mud-and-mangroves forests. Pushing through in the heat of the day, we climb to Waterlemon Bay. Masks, fins and snorkel gear in place, we hold hands and wade backwards into water. The sea is clear, cool and so intensely blue it hurts to look.

This is Leila's first time snorkeling and we squeeze each other as we kick towards Waterlemon Key. We pass purple sea fans that bend with each rush of current. There are parrotfish chomping on brain coral, blue angel fish, stingrays, massive sea urchins, six-foot long tarpon with bulldog-like faces...

The day rolls over us.  Sun sinks into sky and the color of these islands begins to shift, dark green to black, aqua blue to silver. We are tired from the heat, from the hike to old, crumbling Dutch ruins.  

My sister, drawing shapes in sand, says, “I wouldn’t want to get married on St. John.” “Why not?” She runs a towel over her forehead: “Because I wouldn’t want to be sweating like this at my wedding.”

Waves lap against our feet, we swat at sand fleas, at the mosquitoes that swarm at dusk, and lean into each other. We are covered in sand and salt, content, silent, happy.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Caribbean Sea

Cinammon Bay

I look forward and see a mess of curly black hair, two out-of-sync paddles and a million sparkles glistening in an aqua sea. We push forward, the double kayak inching lazily through Maho and Francis Bay. We stop to take in the scene: The green, sloping shoulders of St. John, the island’s rocky edge and white sand beaches. The Caribbean Sea surrounds us, dazzling, breathtaking, dotted with islands in all directions. Picking up speed we steer left, looping around Whistling Cay. The rocky island is covered with gigantic cactus plants, coconut trees and with a thousand squawking sea birds. Leila turns and smiles. A turtle pops its head up and takes a deep breath. We glide on, paddling slowly, savoring every moment of this view from the sea.

                             Leila in Blue
Coral Bay from Above
Islands Everywhere

Sun Set

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Virgin Islands

                                                      Bird's Eye View

                                            Water Speak

                                                             St. John

                                         View from uncle Michael's house.

            We are in bed, listening to Coqui frogs, settling in, breathing humid, fragrant air.

Graduation Day

Leila, my little sister, graduates from high school (with red roses, high honors and a national achievement scholarship)! Go Leila!

                                                           So Proud!


Saturday, June 4, 2011

My Beautiful Sisters


Leila (the graduate), Emily (the athlete), Nicole (the one who gets away with everything) and me (trying to take our portrait).

                                                       Making Faces!

                                   Homework on a Saturday Night (so studious)

Could you say no?

My beautiful baby sisters (not so little anymore)... Leila graduates from high school tomorrow. Big, big day. More to come (must get back to our girls' night). 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Last Night in Maine

                                                      Peaceful Existence
     Grans and I savoring our last day together. Doing a whole lot of nothing and having a ball.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


                                                              Dexter Swamp

                                                         Fallen Tree

                                                     Brown Glass River

                                                            Bell and Lake


The sun stood pale and low in the sky as I got into my car yesterday morning. Winding country roads took me inland, past birch and pine forests, through old mill towns. The mills themselves are empty. They languish in each town center, slouching in defeat. There is little money in the middle of this state, but there is water everywhere. It wells up from the ground, pools in each passing back yard and rushes in clear-brown streams. I snake through Newport and Dexter on my way to Dover-Foxcroft. The ground is soggy, the landscape green, gray and alive. I find my friend, Dana, sitting on a chair overlooking a silver lake. Her knee is swollen, puffy and blue-black, but she’s still smiling. We look out to the mountains beyond the lake and catch up. We are both in Maine for a short trip, and ours, happily, happen to overlap.