Burdens, Strains, and Fruit

“It’s like the tree doesn’t want to survive.”

We’re stringing up our peach tree in essentially reverse-bonsai fashion.  The branches have gone horizontal and dipped down, semi-ripe peaches inches from the ground.  It looks like all it would take is one strong wind and every major limb would snap.

We’ve done this before — peach trees bear fruit once every three years, and, when we first got the house four years back, we were stringing up what was essentially a sapling, clearly too young for the task at hand.

Three years later and it feels like little has changed.  Every week, the peaches grow bigger, and the branches sag a little more.  I check the fruit daily, seeing when I can finally pick the fruit — relieve the strain before a branch breaks off.

After a major rainstorm, one of the major branches does snap in half. Continue reading


Returning to Pain

It continues to be a time of deep reflection and soul searching.  The moments can get so overwhelming that I can only hope that I’ve hit an era of purging, of watching the wrecking ball go at old outdated structures, and clearing the way for something new.

One of the biggest pitfalls for Type 4 people on the Enneagram chart is dwelling.  But I don’t necessarily need a personality analysis to tell me that.  One of my biggest pitfalls has always been dwelling, of coming back to bad experiences and over-identifying with the pain & hurt — of over-identifying with getting hurt — and finding myself in a world of sad songs & tears & unresolved issues.

Sometimes things come on their own volition.  They’ll show up like uninvited guests, under the guise of giving me a clearer view on things — things I glossed over as they were happening only to now reveal themselves in full.  Moments that hit me all at once with how terrible, how unfair, how manipulative they really were — moments where I am furious with others for what they did and furious with myself for allowing it to happen.  I harness that — or try to, at least — and say, “See how this makes you feel now? Use that as fuel to make sure you never get into something like that ever again.”

But sometimes I call them over like a vulnerable lover in the middle of the night.  I invite them back in and relive moments and feel the heartache and grief and anger and pain.  Relive, and then perversely proclaim, “I never want to feel that way again for as long as I live!”

…But how can I proclaim I never want to feel that way again and yet revisit the feeling like an old friend?


Continue reading

An Ode to Hiking (pt 2)

I’ve been trying to up my hiking game this summer.

My teaching schedule — once a scattered mess that had me teaching in smattering amounts every single day — has consolidated, leaving me my Thursday mornings and weekends free.  I’ve been dedicating that free time to solo hikes and group hikes, quick jaunts around local trails and longer expeditions further north.

I hiked avidly as a kid, I barely hiked at all when I lived in Boston, and I only hiked sporadically during my first few years in New Hampshire.  With each passing year, I try to become a little more deliberate, a little more focused.

My parents are/were members of the 4,000 Footer Club — a designation for those who’ve climbed all the major mountains in New Hampshire.  If I’m doing the math right, I’m now the age that my mother was when she finishing scaling the last of the 4,000-foot summits.  I don’t think that’s influenced my uptick in hiking, but given the connection between hiking and that untainted purity from my past, I won’t strike it out. Continue reading