Facets: Bright Pieces of a Glorious Week Spent Away

Rachel and I were away on vacation last week, visiting our dear friends Sarah and Jenn, and while I didn’t immediately write down the numerous bright moments we shared, I remember them vividly. Here are a select few ❤

Driving through Vermont in the morning sunshine, we passed through little villages garlanded with vibrant orange, yellow, and red leaves. The mountains were a patchwork quilt of fall colors.

On the winding roads of Vermont, we stopped at a bizarre roadside attraction — the outside was crowded with fiberglass statues of superheroes and rock legends, and the inside was a bewildering maze of floor-to-ceiling shelves and corridors only one person at a time could fit through.

Sarah and Jenn welcomed us with so many hugs and so much good food. We were nourished body and soul. Almost every night, we sat around their wooden dining room table with treasures of crystals scattered all around us and learned to make crystal grids. We had so many important, heart-filling talks. We wrote words with them, and nothing could make me happier.

A walk late at night led Sarah and I to Our Lady of Spiders. She’s breathtaking; I felt so much reverence.

The four of us spent a magical few hours at a glass domed palace-greenhouse, surrounded by the breath of growing things.

I adopted sparkling, glorious crystals: a Herkimer diamond glittering with rainbows and an amethyst tower with suspended purple flecks like a frozen explosion.

We walked together through faerie woodlands that made my heart soar. A Little Free Library nestled in the forest was followed by rocks and tree trunks with faces on them, fields of tall flowing grasses sprinkled with asters, and showers of yellow leaves that glinted in the sun like flakes of gold. Acorns fell around us, pattering out the heartbeat of the forest.

With Sarah, Jenn, and Rachel’s encouragement, I held in my hand and took home a piece of history: a Viking ring forged in the 11th or 12th century. It’s carved with tiny parallel lines on either side of a flat top where a jewel was once fixed. Someone with delicate fingers wore this a thousand years ago. My heart still leaps to think of it.

As Rachel and I drove together toward Rhinebeck and the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, the brightest rainbows I’ve ever seen filled the sky, mile after mile. We could see the hills behind each rainbow showing through the colors. We drove under the biggest, and we were so enveloped in it that we could see the arc extending down around us onto the road. We arrived at our hotel just as a sliver of moon was rising over the Catskills.

Waiting in line to get into the festival, we made friends with a woman wearing a magenta shawl that she spun and knitted herself. We met her again the last day we were there, and she’d just bought a new spinning wheel.

Hours were spent in the cool autumn sunshine, walking through barns full of excited fiber artists wrapped in their most beloved creations, touching and smelling the softest wool. We took home a rainbow spectrum of fleece waiting to be spun into yarn.

Rachel and I shared steaming hot pierogies while the wind blew around us. Tiny flakes of snow caused a swelling of dismay and disbelieving laughter in the crowds.

I waited in line for twenty minutes to taste a long selection of cheeses, smooth and creamy to snappy and earthy. Rachel stood beside me, eating the best pretzel we’ve ever had.

Searching for dinner one night when the restaurant we planned to visit was too full to take us, we found a vegan restaurant close by on Yelp. We drove there, marveling at the beautiful houses, the charming shops filled with crystals and faerie lights and peace signs in the windows. We wondered what earth-reverent place we’d stumbled upon… until we realized we were in Woodstock, NY. The candle shop with its melted-candle mountain, built with decades of wax drippings, was a paradise. We ate dinner in the tiny vegan restaurant on a table of white filagree iron, sharing corn chowder and the best seared tofu I’ve ever eaten. Sautéed kale served on the side won over both of us who have never liked kale before.

At the end of our weekend, we stood together on the hill at the crux of the festival as golden leaves from the monumental maples fell in flurries thicker than snow. A band of Andean flute and guitar players made soul-stirring, vein-thrumming music behind us.

Facets: Bright Pieces of Everyday Life

Thursday, October 1
Before the sun rises, Rachel and I curl up on our bed in a cocoon of lamplight and pet Beatrix as she purrs.

In the dawn sky, the clouds look like fleece, newly shorn.

The very tips of each leaf on the maple tree outside my office window are turning campfire-ember-orange.

Watching the sunset, pink and lavender and molten orange, my wife says: “Nature has the best crayons.”

Saturday, October 3
Hours are spent nestled warmly at a cafe, drinking tea, eating pumpkin muffins, and deep in outlining a novel.

While walking in the woods, we happen upon a misty, salty stretch of coastline that we’ve never seen before. The rocks at the shore look like sheafs of paper, the stone pages of massive books that were set spine-down into the earth.

A momentous discovery: our local Victorian-esque curiosity shop, Pickwick’s Emporium, has opened a pop-up store nestled on the back streets of Portsmouth just for the month of October. It’s called Deadwick’s, and it’s in honor of Halloween and the arcane. No cheesy zombie masks or rubber skeletons here: it was all black lace and mirrors, candles and crystals, ravens and tarot cards and a respectful, love-filled shrine with folded messages to lost loved ones. We come upon this at 9:00 p.m., after wandering the dark streets and passing a house with a gas-lit porch light.

Sunday, October 4
In the morning hours, both cats snuggle between us in bed: Beatrix curled between our bellies, purring like a motorboat, and Freija lounging with her fur in our faces. This is such a rare moment that we stay, unmoving, for an hour.

Sunshine on bright yellow trees against a cerulean sky, gnarled apple branches, red and green and burgundy-purple fruit peppering the ground. We pick apples, just a half peck each, choosing each one with careful intention. The unpaved road back to the farm stand shines golden. We twine hands.

Tuesday, October 6
The tufted heads of reeds by the pond nod in the breeze, their silvery fluff lit up against the sun and shining like a corona.

Under gilded evening sunlight and bottle-blue skies, I celebrate eight years married to my beloved wife. Eleven years since I first told her I love her. We make fresh rolls out of soy wrappers, cucumber, carrots, and hot peanut sauce; we share Pad Thai and sit together with our cats and our finches; and we laugh in comfortable bliss.

Wednesday, October 7
Small, green, perfectly round apples hang from a single apple tree in the forest. I think an apple witch must live there.

All around me as I pace softly through the wood are the sounds of falling acorns — snap, whish, thump — and the flicker of yellow leaves as they spiral gently to earth.

The night is filled with crystals, candles, tea, soft music, and soothing tarot spreads. Safely swaddled in the dim light of Rachel’s studio, we work magic and love.

Facets: Bright Pieces of Everyday Life

I’d like to think that I’ll write lots of posts for this blog every week, but I know myself — sometimes inspiration comes, and sometimes it doesn’t. But every day, I see things in the world that fill me with wonder, little fragments and images that I want to record. So I’ll be posting them every week, normally on Wednesdays, as Facets: Bright Pieces of Everyday Life.

Tuesday, September 29
The wood is silent and still. A leaf floats down beside me and lands, with a gentle and audible tap, on the wooden walkway.

A little girl on a field trip likes my pink hair. She says if I want some of her class’s juice, just ask.

I finally discover the name of the tall tasseled grasses who have long been my companions, my comfort, my friends: Phragmites australis, common reed. I remember that in Celtic tree astrology, reed is my birth tree.

A tree trunk has wrinkles that look like an elephant’s leg, or slouchy socks. I see that the rolls have grown over a wire round the tree.

It’s raining and the sun is out. The Shadow Girls say that under these conditions, fox girls can get married! (To each other, I choose to imagine.) This is apparently a theme across numerous cultures.

Wednesday, September 30
I wake to the wet-pebble sound of rain on the skylights over our bed.

Freija — our faerie cat and Rachel’s familiar — enters my office in silence and scares the daylights out of me by ricocheting off my thigh in an attempt to get into my lap.

I drink lemon-ginger tea that smells like cookies in a clay mug imprinted with Japanese maple leaves, Queen Anne’s Lace, and ferns.

I place a piece of smoky quartz on the dark wood of my desk, and golden light from my lamp hits the inclusions just right, illuminating them.