Posted by: scintillatingspeck | June 14, 2017

Here. Wisconsin.

The Kinnickinnic River, a.k.a. “the Kinni,” in River Falls, WI.  (photo credit: Lily Hartley)


We’re here, here and now, right here, right now.  In the present moment, and it is good.  It is exactly how it is supposed to be, in all its joy, pain, challenge, rest, and whatever the moment MUST bring.

Two weeks ago Lily, Tom, and I said goodbye to beautiful Massachusetts, my lifelong home, Lily’s lifelong home, and drove westward for three days.  We arrived in River Falls, Wisconsin, our new home, in a state of exhaustion and bewilderment, but over days and weeks we are settling in steadily and well.

All along our route, through Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, the black locust trees were in bloom, their fragrant white (and edible) blossoms waving in the breeze, waving us down the road, their vernal froth announcing the continuity of new beginnings.  This arboreal friend greeted us on almost every highway, tenacious, familiar, rooted, connecting enormous continental swaths with a common botanical language, along with many other familiar plants and trees with whom we are so deeply intimate.

We left behind “our” rivers, or rather, the rivers that we belonged to: the Connecticut River, the Mill River, those aqueous forces of motion that launched our journey to Paddle to the Sea.  And the Sea, in its infinite wisdom, brought us full circle to the land of inland oceans and rivers, the land of Great Lakes, the land of rivers that we can begin to belong to, like the Mississippi, the St. Croix, and the Kinnickinnic.  And we brought our canoe, too!  My beloved green Old Town canoe, that my dad bought when I was 12, the same one that he and I launched into the Saco River in Maine that summer of what must have been 1984.  We paddled, we camped, we sang, we chased our hats that flew off our heads into the water, we paddled through a mighty downpour on that final day.  That time, that river, that profound connection with my dad—I brought all of that with me, as well.

It was hard to leave behind our loves, our friends, our peach trees laden with fruit, the house and land I had hoped would be our nest and tiny homestead for many years.  It was hard, I tell you.  I can’t write this without the tears springing up, the longing, especially, for my cherished ones.  But the call was strong and the signs were clear.  It was time to go from there, and arrive here.  It was time to attend to some deep needs of Lily’s and mine, in particular, that were not being met.  Needs, not wants.  We had the opportunity.  We seized it.  We made it happen.

That’s part of what I want to teach Lily by example.  Look, my love.  We are the sorts of people who make things happen.  We are not complacent.  We will do what we can, and what we can do is a LOT.  We can move to a whole new place.  We can find the chances, the niches, the entry-points into our fulfilled lives.  When things aren’t working, we can look for the ways to change our circumstances, whether those ways are subtle or sweeping.  We can know our ever-evolving purposes and enact them by coming alive, over and over.  We are not here to serve the purposes of the industrial machine.  We are living, relational creatures, meant to serve the living, relational planet.

There are loves/friends here, too, of course.  We cherish them.  And there will be more.  We are meeting them all the time.

“Wisconsin welcomes you,” the sign said on the border.  And so it has.  I feel its blossoms twining through my hair.



  1. Congratulations! Welcome home. It takes a while to grow roots, but you will, as I have in Maine. Beginning again is an act of great courage. All the best. Jenny

    • Thank you, Jenny! Glad we share this courage and re-rooting.

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