reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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off the trail we know. [k.s. friday]

each time the trail curves, i can imagine it. next.

but as weeks go, this one has been harder. we tried our best to be positive, to believe that the new bend in our road is not so fraught. but, the fact of the matter is that it is. fraught.

we are pretty tough. kind of scrappy. definitely frugal. well, most of the time. we have both been presented with lean times in our lives. even our life together has had its lean times. we always eat leftovers. we always repurpose things. we always turn the shampoo bottle upside down. we always keep the heat low. we haven’t bought a vehicle in sixteen years. in some unknown intuitive move for which we are now grateful, we put off the big chimney-fireplace project, necessary but ridiculously expensive. we haven’t flown in three years. we find sanctuary in a forest we know well. we know where the trail curves.

and each time the trail curves, i can imagine it.

as the sun glimmers on what-looks-like the other end, i think – this is just one day, one week, one time in our lives. tomorrow will dawn and it might be a completely different day, starting a completely different week, a completely different time in our lives. and we just don’t know. again.

we are now in a woods we do not recognize, on a path we can not anticipate. off the trail we know. anxiety hikes with us, as do worry, sadness and disappointment. we worked hard on our plan, but the best laid plans are laid down. and this week, as weeks go, this one has been harder.

the sun quivers through the trees in front of us, setting. we keep walking.

day is done, 
gone the sun, 
from the lake, 
from the hills, 
from the sky; 
all is well, 
safely rest, 
god is nigh.  

fading light 
dims the sight, 
and a star 
gems the sky, 
gleaming bright. 
from afar, 
drawing nigh, 
falls the night.

(taps - d. butterfield/unknown)

*****

IN TRANSITION ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

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an old quilt. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

in some ways, it felt like coming home. this trail – its bends and hills and forks – was a mainstay for us for a long time. it was the old quilt before we added another to our collection. we used to wrap this trail around us often in the week, most especially on sunday afternoons, replacing the sunday-drives of my growing-up.

the nature megaphone always called to us. we’d crawl in and sit with our backs against the curved wall, our boots propped up on the other side. we’d take out whatever snack we brought along and munch and talk. and, if we were lucky, the sun was coming in on the greater-than side and it would bathe our faces and we’d close our eyes and just listen to the forest.

but we hadn’t been there in a few years. the county, in a money-over-preserve-conscious moment, approved the building of an aerial adventure course – with high ropes and ziplines and such. and then the woods were screaming-noisy, the parking lot fuller than we had ever seen it. we wondered why all those people in all those cars didn’t see the value of the woods before the treetop park.

one day last week we went back. there were few cars in the lot so we pulled on our boots and set out.

it was instantly like coming home. leaves gently raining down on us, we could feel the trail saying, “hey. where’ve ya been?” and we decided right away to do all the loops, see it all, visit the megaphone.

sitting inside, our backs to the curved wall and our dusty boots propped up on the other side we wished we had brought a snack. the sun was streaming in, warming our faces. we closed our eyes and listened.

all the old quilts in your life count. even the ones you don’t wrap in very often.

“to outer senses there is peace,

a dreamy peace on either hand,

deep silence in the shadowy land,

deep silence where the shadows cease.”

(oscar wilde – impressions II)

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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a strawberry by another name. [two artists tuesday]

every summer we would go strawberry-picking. my mom kept the berry baskets from year to year, hanging in our one-car garage. we’d go “out east” on long island, get all sunburned and strawberry-stained. my dad would quip, “one for the basket, one for the breadbasket,” chomping in-between picking.

when my children were littler, we would do the same. thompson strawberry farm in the county was our destination. the kiddos were also big fans of “the breadbasket” and i have pictures to prove it. sweetest moments, in all good ways.

if you were to describe a strawberry, you would try to describe its long-conic shape, the petals at the top where the stem connects. then you would likely go on to describe the color as it matures, the way it crunches, the way it tastes, the way seeds might get stuck in your teeth and, maybe, the way juice would stain your hands and, probably, your clothing. there’s nothing quite like a strawberry fresh-off-the-vine on a hot summery-sun day in the middle of a field with your tummy kind of pokin’ at you. amaaaaazing. my dad would agree.

as we walked on the trail, we encountered this strawberry-shaped pod. it’s a wild teasel. upside-down. but teasel is the perfect name for this flowering plant. for unless you spoke to the prickly nature of this, you could be describing the shape, the sessile leaves, the stem of a strawberry. any touch or, worse yet, a bite, would indeed tell you the difference. naturally, the color – or lack thereof – would also never tease you into picking it for your berry basket.

i guess you really need to examine closely what you believe to be a strawberry or what you think might be a strawberry. you need to question the properties of a real strawberry. you may need to research.

just because it sort of looks like a strawberry does not make it a strawberry. and, for your well-being, you need to be able to tell the difference.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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witnesses. [two artists tuesday]

out of the corner of my eye i caught a glimpse of him leading her over to the edge of the garden. something about his tenderness made me stop and linger. he had his hands on her shoulders and was looking right into her face. and suddenly, he got down on one knee.

they were strangers – and remain strangers – but i had goosebumps of excitement as i watched him on his knee. we couldn’t hear anything, really, but when she threw her arms around him and he was beaming, it was pretty obvious. family and friends spilled out of the places they had hidden in the botanic garden and surrounded them, celebrating.

it was a moment in time. and we were witnesses to it.

we walk along the shoreline and marvel at the expanse of lake michigan. often – after the work day is over – the sun is lower in the sky to our west, so the sky over the lake is starting to turn all crayola-like as we walk. our shadows get longer, longer. it would seem we are on stilts. we stop for a minute to appreciate it all, take a picture, hug. witnesses to the end of day, one that we cannot recreate no matter how hard we try.

we walk on, sometimes entirely quiet, sometimes reviewing our day. we marvel that it is mid-october. already. witnesses to time flying, warp-speed, flimsy tendrils floating you cannot harness.

our trail was mostly empty on saturday. hiking there – in the woods – is like wrapping in a comforter. the turns and twists, the meadows, the fallen logs…they are known to us, familiar. it had been a couple weeks. many leaves had fallen. the ones that remained were yellow, some red, some orange. some of the trees were hanging on – their leaves were still green, but i imagine the color changing tiny bit by tiny bit even as we passed by. witnesses to autumn.

we often photograph our shadows. there is no worry about smiling in a photograph of your shadow. funny thing, though…we almost always smile anyway. the capture in time we got to be in a place, together, passing through, witnesses to a moment.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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some fun. [d.r. thursday]

we cleaned the garage. now, this is not my favorite chore. there are spiders in the garage. lots of them. and they peer out at me, lurking, waiting for me to walk by, so that they can drop down a line and swing right in front of my face. their decibel-tolerance for closed-mouthed-screams must be vast, for they elicit many of these from me as they plot and scheme, surprising me.

regardless, we cleaned the garage.

david went in first, broom held in front of him, sweeping as he stepped. in a gallant move, he tried to clear the way for me. his heroics helped; there were fewer surprises as we worked.

our garage is old – like our house – and nails are pounded into the exposed 2x4s to hold bagchairs and hoses and the bike pump and various gardening tools. in one of my best organizing-learnings about a decade back, there is an old tall plastic garbage can in the corner which holds things like shovels and rakes and a fence-post-hole-digger and a metal thing i can’t identify but which seems important. there are two bikes hanging from the ceiling. and up above on wood laying across the rafters, like a mini attic, there is a red tricycle (pause for an “awww”), an old red wagon (repeat), a few old doors and a rooftop turtle that has a big dent in it from when – a few decades ago – we drove into a parking garage late at night forgetting it was up there on top of the bronco. oopsies.

like anything else i do, it was a time of revisiting stories.

the best thing in the garage is the volkswagen. our 1971 super beetle is tucked in, while littlebabyscion and big red suffer the elements. tenure counts here.

we finished cleaning, triumphantly and without any horror, and sat on the deck with a gorgeous saturday afternoon stretching out in front of us. i poured two glasses of white wine and brought out a snack, some brown paper bags, scissors, a few rocks and some paint. time to have some fun.

because we have been the grateful recipients of gift-rocks-on-the-trail we decided to leave some of our own. story of our lives, come to find out there are better tools for this than the ones we had. we had dollar store paint and brushes. those didn’t work. we moved on to david’s good acrylic paints from his studio and the dollar store brushes. these worked better, but didn’t yield precise lines. we found out later that there are real live paint pens – ones you can paint rocks with. they draw precise lines and tiny little scenes. (well, you draw them, they just make it all a possibility.) we’re going to get us some of those, i say.

in the meanwhile, our rough-hewn works of rock-art will have to do.

the next day, we hid the first round of rocks the first time we walked the loop on our trail. by the second time around, some of them were gone. i guess rough-hewn was acceptable.

i can’t wait to see what we do with paint pens.

my first rockwork

*****

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CHASING BUBBLES 33″x48″: this painting of glee is available.
©️ 2019 david robinson


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cowboys and mayapples. [k.s. friday]

he sat easy in the saddle, cowboy hat planted on his head, his horse striding down the trail. “have you seen the mayapples?” he turned his head toward us. “yes, you were the one who told us about them,” i replied. satisfied, he rode on.

it’s hard to miss the canopy. they stand tall and the leaves intersect like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle, gone a little wild. it is as if the mayapple all joined hands, agreeing that their mutual umbrella is the point, their canopy of protection a priority. the green is beautiful, lighting the floor of the forest. i bend down to photograph them, again.

and there it was. a stunning white flower. hidden under the umbrella of a wide expanse of leaves above. only stems with more than one leaf will flower; the delicate white bloom grows out of the axil of two leaves.

we had never noticed the flowers before. i don’t know why. but the canopy stretches on and on and you must bend and peek to see the flowers. they exist in this other-world, beautiful, showy, fragrant. it came as a shock to us – how many times we had passed by the mayapple – to not know the existence of these pinwheel flowers, each one ever-important to the thriving of the colony. the canopy provided shelter, guarding the precious flowers that will need be cross-pollinated and will then produce a berry ripe with seeds, ensuring mayapple’s continued spread. so much going on in this tiny underworld of the forest. nature continues on her merry way.

the cowboy seems to really love the mayapple. though he doesn’t remember, each year he quietly tells us about them as he and his horse walk by. it never appears that he is in a rush. instead, he is slow and deliberate. and those mayapples.

what beauty we all might find…were we to bend down and peek into the world. what shelter we might provide were we to join hands, spreading out like the canopy of mayapples. how we might protect what is precious to us, the delicate, the fragile, the children among us. how we might lift each bloom and help it thrive.

we walk under a canopy of blue sky and inky stars. we can do this.

*****

nurture me

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NURTURE ME from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


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the circle of life. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

sometimes asking a question is purely a matter of politeness. you want the other person to know you value their thoughts, but, since you’ve already decided, their answer blurs into the gusty winds inside your mind and you do what you want to do anyway.

i can’t say that all the lost turtles and frogs and hurt birds and chipmunks and leg-damaged preying mantises in the wild have come home with us. i can say that i wanted them to. he generally feels that nature should be left to carry on in the circle of life (i can hear elton john singing now) and so i already know his answer to my “what should we do?” question. we’ve come across kittens on trails and i’ve stared at him without a word as he sorts for something to say about wild cats. of course there is nothing to really say about a tiny tabby in the woods, except that we are not really all that far from civilization and, surely, this cat belongs somewhere, so taking it home would equate to, well, kidnapping it. that, for sure, stops any taking-it-home-ness from happening.

were it up to me, particularly in this empty-nest-time, all the sweet creatures we come across would be our little friends. and the circle of life – if need be – would include a stint at our house, in our nest.

and elton john would be happy.

*****

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SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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cautious discernment. [d.r. thursday]

and the dried grassy flower stands tall, not yet shrinking back, not yet bowing to the wind. it opens its arms to the sun and, equally, to the rain; it intimately knows how each feels. it waits – for there is nothing else to do. it stokes energy – for it cannot survive unless it conserves. we pass by, admiring the firework of its winter bloom.

soon, soon, it will regenerate. soon, soon, a stem will grow, sturdy, tall. soon, soon, a rosette will green. soon, soon, it will bloom, tiny flowers, clusters on its thick stem.

and one might think how lovely it would look in a simple bud vase, on a side table, in its winter simplicity or soon-soon-spring-blossoming.

quick research reveals it could be golden alexander or perhaps queen anne’s lace, not-toxic and somewhat toxic, respectively. a google-photo-search suggests it is possibly wild parsnip, absolutely toxic, invasive, causing severe burns and years-long discoloration of the skin, like queen anne’s lace with a big bite.

“things are [- sometimes -] not what they appear to be; nor are they otherwise.” (buddha)

identification – now – in the fallow – is not easy.

when there are tiny flowers, when there is foliage…maybe then it will be easier. it will, clearly, be an important discernment.

often we gaze upon things that seem to be attractive, seem to be beautiful, that tease us to reach for them.

perhaps a reminder to exercise caution.

*****

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see an owl, acrylic, 24″x48″


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what we seek. [d.r. thursday]

our favorite thing in the woods, when i was about eight or ten or so, were the salamanders. red-backed salamanders had a red stripe down their spine and, back then, were all over the woods outside our rustic cabins in the upstate new york state parks.

we stayed at many of them: selkirk shores, chenango valley, watkins glen, green lakes, letchworth. my sweet momma and poppo were not tent-campers, but they fully embraced the very-bare-minimum cabins in the woods and my mom would pack for a week ahead; we had to bring everything with us, including pots and pans. the bunkbed frames and mattresses were about all you got, with basic kitchen and bathroom necessities. we’d go for a week and for that glorious week, i would roam the forest and swim the lakes and ride bikes all over the park with my best friend. we didn’t do fancy vacations, but, for me, these trips were heaven. i think about my momma now – for her it was a lot of work, but she seemed happy to be “roughing-it” as she said. and she would run around each night, can of raid in her hand, singsong voice, announcing “raid! raid!” while we buried into our sleeping bags on our bunks and tried not to breathe.

before we discovered the lifeguards, we would hike through the forest, looking for anything interesting we could find, devising paths and mysteries to solve. mostly, we looked for the salamanders. one year, we found one that was particularly sociable with us and we were convinced it would stay around and be our friend. for obvious reasons, we named him sal. once you’ve named something, it is much harder to say goodbye.

now, the thing that’s hard to say goodbye to – out in the woods, high in the mountains – is the whole visceral experience. the cool fresh air, the trail under our feet, the sun filtering through the trees, quaking aspen leaves, the absolute drop-dead-amazing smell of a pine forest, the quiet.

we haven’t found salamanders in colorado woods, though we haven’t been seeking them as i did when i was in elementary school. instead, we have sought the feeling you get after you have hiked miles and some decent elevation. that exhausted adrenaline bursted rush of ahhh. the slightly burning lungs-are-in-your-chest feeling. the your-legs-want-to-sit-down-on-a-stump-for-a-moment tiredness. a little bit of wind-sun-scorched face. and the overwhelming desire to keep going.

*****

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autographs. [d.r. thursday]

“this is my autograph, here in the songs that I sing. here in my cry and my laugh, here in the love that i bring. to be always with you and you always with me.” (autograph – john denver)

on my 30th birthday – a sunny and auspicious day more than thirty years ago – at the zoo, in a freshly poured cement sidewalk, i wrote my name with a stick. i was not alone; i had witnesses to this moment in time. my mom and dad and niece and husband cheered me on as i left my tiny mark. years later, upon return to that zoo, it was still there. there was something encouraging and reassuring about that. i had not disappeared.

we were way up on the mountain, at the highest point of the trail we were hiking. the meadow stretched out of the woods and we sat for a time on a log, watching the breeze move the wildflowers as they bent to autumn. with a sharpie we left two tiny dots on that log. we had been there. we would remain there.

right off the side of the meadow as we re-entered the woods, there was this stump. like an opening flower blossom, it begged a look inside. i was surprised to find rocks of all sizes in there. a container of autographs, evidence for those who had passed by. we added ours to the assembly, rocks specifically chosen by hikers who placed their i-was-here into the hollow cavern of the stump. there is something about leaving a token behind, yes, encouraging and reassuring that upon our return someday – should we return to that very spot – it could be there and we would be reminded that we had passed that way.

the music, the art, the words – all linger temporarily. a little noisy. we have passed this way, that way, these very spots. music, the art, the words – they are expressions that give a bit of definition to the amorphous life we live. they say who we are and stamp our love into the world. and then they evaporate into the atmosphere.

and we know that, even if we never pass that way again, even if we never come across the hollow stump again, we have still left a silent autograph.

*****

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