Musings . . .

on the passing scene

Endings & Beginnings

My favorite exercise these days, during this time of quarantine, is going on walkabout in the neighborhood, all gloved and masked like a bandit with a basket of books on my arm destined for the Little Free Library kiosks on every other block. Much of my time at home...

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Virus: Definition

for Gavin on his birthday

In other words, “We don’t really know.”

I looked up the word ‘virus’ in the dictionary this morning, and got variations of this definition: “submicroscopic infectious agents that cannot replicate on their own but need a host cell in order to survive.”
Unlike a bacterium, a virus is invisible even under strong magnification, so what exactly is it and where does it come from?

Again, we don’t know.

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Scared To Death

I grew up scared. My people were frightened refugees, and my boyfriend was a survivor of the Holocaust. Our lives were shaped by fear, as were our neighbors’, so once I was old enough to leave, I went back to the Old Country to see where I came from. I was also keen...

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Power Playing

for rbr

Many years ago I had a spiritual teacher who was brilliant, tall and charismatic. What he lacked was wise judgment, self-honesty and compassion for others – in other words, the teachings themselves. Carried by his charisma, he played the guru role to the hilt, allowing his female students to adore him, and his male students to copy him. The teachings themselves mostly rang true, however – perhaps despite himself – although I sensed him prowling behind his title like a trapped wolf wanting out.

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My Vote

for Noe and Bob and Christina and Massey and the whole crew on Hilltop

I go numb worrying over who to vote for – or even if I should vote at all, Lord help me!

For me, the real problem in the first place is the two-party system itself, as if we were playing some kind of Olympic Game – one winner takes the Gold Medal and everyone else goes home crying. What about the person coming in sixteenth place? I want to shout. Wasn’t she also fabulous in her own way – even if she slipped on the final slalom?

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Serious Fun

I have a wonderful photograph on my altar of several of us at Red Clover a few summers ago, standing in front of a lilac bush in full bloom and laughing our heads off. My brother had just made some wry joke, no doubt spoken out of the side of his mouth, and the...

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Enormous Changes

For Leon, in memoriam, for Deb and for James

Before midnight on New Years Eve, my younger brother left this life. A farmer in Vermont, he had been out clearing brush in the fields two days before and now was taking his regular afternoon nap before friends arrived for the evening. In the waning hours of both the day and the year he took his leave of us quietly without any fuss, as was his way.

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Breath and Squirrels

I had a nightmare this week of being forced into an underground tunnel where girls and young women were lined up, and my job was to count them. I could hardly breathe and began to panic, knowing that if I didn’t get out into real air I would die! Scrabbling my way...

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Cleansing and Clearing

The fires are coming in closer, surrounding us on three sides, not quite here yet, but close enough. As I watch the winds pick up, die down and then pick up again, I feel my stress level rise, relax and then rise again. “Is this the end?” I wonder, straining to...

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In This Together

For Saroj Sachdev

When I was 19 and a student in France, I lived with a wonderful family as part-time nanny for their 5 children. One time, when the parents went off to Paris for a few days and left me in charge of their brood, Patrick, the 3 year-old, came down with a fever and I had to call in the doctor who lived near the old church.

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Photo of Carolyn North by Susan Wilson

Carolyn North

Photo: Susan Wilson