The language of birds

Three house finches at a bird feeder

I'd love to be camping right now, somewhere nice and inaccessible, but the fact is I must be on a computer, earning my paycheck. I am fortunate however in that I can work from the comfort of a screened-in back porch with a lake view.  It also has a view of my bird feeder.  I am a big fan of finding the sacred wherever you are, and I was on a futon with a laptop, grading.  If I must sit still for a long period of time, and look up every time a movement catches my eye an … [Read more...]

With a hey and a ho and a hey nonny no

Pink flowered wood sorrel

This is going to be uncharacteristically brief as we have reached that important seasonal milestone, the end of the semester.  I teach college English, among my other unfortunate vices.  So here's a recording of pioneering jazz singer Maxine Sullivan's version of "It Was a Lover and His Lass" from Twelfth Night, because Shakespeare.  You're welcome.It's going to be Beltane any minute now, and while my friends in more northern climes are grumping about when is spring going to get here, an … [Read more...]

Wishful Ducklings

Mallard mama and ducklings

I thought I'd begin my sojourn as a writer for A Sense of Place with a bit of discussion of the particular place I find myself in now, and how I wound up here...Recently John Beckett asked "Where are you from?"  and relatedly, "where do you feel at home?"  I'm from north Georgia, just across the state line from where he grew up, and like him I find that glorious southern Appalachian landscape stays with me wherever I go.  But as for where my home is now...well, that's a story.Almost a ye … [Read more...]

Lessons From D.C.

Flooding at the Capitol Mall due to a broken irrigation pipe 2006

Last week I was in Washington, D.C. for work. My trip there was both difficult and good. I learned many lessons during my travels and during the time I was in the city. One of the lessons that I am still processing is about the intersection between pre-existing stereotypes about a place and the actual spirit of that place. It's not that I have a clear understanding of this issue yet, but I still think that it's worth discussing publicly in the hopes that you can process the ideas with me.It … [Read more...]

Creating a Place-Based Practice

my Little Bigs at Pedernales Falls

On the second dark moon of January, a group of 9 gathered in my front garden. We sought uncharted territory; in fact, were willing to risk vulnerability to find it.  The group of explorers met to carefully plan the expedition.  We knew the journey might stretch every resource and tool we possessed, yet we were  drawn to try--to dare.  For there, in my front garden that night, was the first meeting of an advanced working group committed to discovering the Place specific spirituality of Central Tex … [Read more...]

What I Learned in the Crosswalk

Seattle, Washington (Photo by Brandi Haker, Seattletaco.com)

Streets in America are strange, but one doesn't quite know this until going elsewhere. In other lands, heavily-populated cities existed many centuries before the advent of cars and often before the widespread use of carriages, and thus the streets within those cities are often narrower, the buildings closer together, and the life of the street radically different from what we have come to expect in North America.One develops a strange and rather enlightening sense of what a city can be when … [Read more...]

The Place of Death.

Photo by Anne Burgess

Two weeks ago a friend of mine was feeling unwell. She'd been under a lot of stress. She was prone to anxiety at the best of times, but at that point she was overwhelmed completely. That Sunday she'd collapsed in the park while she walked her dog. She thought that she'd fainted from a panic attack. A neighbour helped her back to her 3rd floor apartment. The next day, she reached out to friends to ask for help with walking her dog and dealing with other practical matters while she tried to get … [Read more...]


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