Nature’s Balm

Sharing words of inspiration during our time at home in April, National Poetry Month.

Walden Pond, Concord, MA

The Peace of Wild Things
by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water,
and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

College in One Day

Imagine going to college without worrying about term papers or exams. You can do it like I did recently at One Day University.

Colleges around the country host professors from premier universities to speak about science, literature, history, art, and many other subjects. These award-winning professors consistently garner the highest ratings by students.

I attended a 4-hour program at Tufts University titled “A Day of Genius.” Three dynamic and captivating professors spoke about:

  • The Scientific Genius of Marie Curie
  • The Restless Genius of Benjamin Franklin
  • The Literary Genius of Shakespeare

The lectures were informational and entertaining and left me feeling energized.

If you seek educational enrichment, consider going to college for a day in a nearby city.

The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia

Reading literature is “an exercise in empathy,” says Sofia Segovia, author of The Murmur of Bees.

This rang true for me while reading the novel. The setting is early 20th century Mexico during the Mexican Revolution. A wealthy landowner and his family struggle with the Spanish flu pandemic and civil war while trying to protect their land. When they rescue a baby boy abandoned at birth, they see past his facial deformities to his unique abilities that inspire and help the family.

Beautifully written (although at times a bit slow) here are passages where I empathized the most.

“In her world, a woman took her parents’ home with her wherever she went: to school, on a foreign voyage, on honeymoon, to bed with her husband, to the birth of her child, to the table each day to teach her children good posture and good manners, and–she believed–she would even take them to her deathbed. In her world, a woman never left her parents behind, even when the parents left her.”

“ . . . you leave a place or say goodbye to someone, and thereafter, you feel the existence you have left behind is frozen by your absence.”

” . . . she would never lose the now-gentler grief that she felt at her father’s absence.”

“At my age, one realizes that time is a cruel and fickle master, for the more you want it, the faster it appears to vanish, and vice versa: the more you want to escape it, the more stagnant it becomes.”

“I didn’t see the defect or any reason to be shocked. I saw only my brother, and I loved him.”

“The empty hours of the night do not pass unnoticed, because in their unrelenting cruelty, they do not allow one to rest; they force one to think, and they demand a great deal. Because it is at night that fear is most frightening, yes, but it is also when sorrow becomes deeper and one regrets what one did or did not do more. It is in the deepest darkness that one sees things most clearly.”

“Contrary to what I had believed, what I came searching for isn’t here, strewn among these ashlar stones. It was never here, because it was always in me . . . “

” . . . he reminded me how important it was to listen. To listen to what life sometimes murmurs into your ear, heart, or gut.”

Thank you, Sofia Segovia.

A Sea of Poetry

My mother gave my daughters The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis when they were in their early teen years. She sought to inspire them with beautiful words that would lift their spirit.

Choose a collection of poetry that will enlighten you during National Poetry Month because April is the season of new beginnings.

Sea Joy

by Jacqueline Bouvier (1939)

When I go down by the sandy shore
I can think of nothing I want more
Than to live by the booming blue sea
As the seagulls flutter round about me

I can run about–when the tide is out
With the wind and the sand and the sea all about
And the seagulls are swirling and diving for fish
Oh–to live by the sea is my only wish.


Photo: Chatham, MA

Top 10 Books of 2018

Historical fiction, literary fiction, and nonfiction are still the books I enjoy most.

If you liked All the Light We Cannot See (one of my all-time favorites), you will like:

The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure (now another all-time favorite)
Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. The author of The Nightingale delivers another compelling story with a strong female protagonist.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. A gripping family saga about China/Korea relations in the early 1900s.

Published a long time ago, Pat Conroy’s
The Prince of Tides
The Water Is Wide
Having visited the low country of South Carolina made these stories vivid.

Educated by Tara Westover. Any memoir about a woman overcoming odds gets my vote.

Eunice by Eileen McNamara. I met the author at a local library where she signed my copy about this pioneering Kennedy.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Quirky and fun with a twist at the end.

Morningstar by Ann Hood. I related to this easy read about classic books that influenced the novelist.

What was your favorite book this year?