In late June, the bumblebees choose their favorite bluebell blooms
(they’re all favorites),
weighing vivid petals with their fuzzy bulk.
I watch one dive completely inside a blossom,
twisting happily like a corkscrew.

In August, the bluebells begin to fade.
My Dad gathers seeds for me,
and I bring a bit of home back to my garden by the Bay.
A connection across the miles,
through the soil and the same sunlight.

The pollen-laden bees disperse their June work among tomatoes,
peppers, pumpkins and zucchini.
And the August flower show now shifts to white zinnia, yellow dahlia and
pink candy cane striped hibiscus.

Evening now, and the bumblebee babies choose the best blooms for their rest
(every bloom is best).
They dream yellow pollen-filled dreams,
while the heat of summer dusk shimmers over their delicate wings.



plant tagsMy soil-rubbed hands pull tenacious

vines from damp earth (no gloves required).

I remember:

sliced Cherokee Purple tomatoes,

roasted Little Finger eggplant and spicy, charred Anaheims.


I will preserve the scent and taste

of the tomatoes, oregano, basil, peppers

in my skin for winter.

Mason jars gleaming on a shelf to savor.

I will close my eyes and smell a sachet of hot sun plants,

watch sassy hummingbirds.

Busy honeybees and a breeze will warm

my heart for rain.


The rain comes,

not just in the nighttime,

and the earth welcomes the wet

for springtime and new starts.

The weathered soil just resting for next time.

(The rosemary tree deserves its own poem.)


October 2, 2017


Photo by Brian Duersch

rosy peach to deepest blush
warming in the sun

hands pluck
summers in a jar
stirring memory for winter days

every peach a promise
of the summer of your life
arriving late and leaving so soon

FullSizeRender-41As a child, my family and I spent many summers exploring the quiet roads, curving rivers and fragrant forests of Southwestern Montana. A Montana mythology grew from these meanders.

The Troll Baby: I was told that my parents found me under a very specific bridge, where I was promptly stolen from my troll family. (Don’t worry; I’ve been able to laugh at this for about 36 years.)

Baptism in the Wise River: When I was three, my mother rescued me by the hood of my sweatshirt from the Wise River. I became none the wiser through this experience, though I thought my savior was my Dad. A mother’s love moves mountains (and rivers). (I’ve written about this incident before.)

Crystal Mountain (AKA Crystal Park): At age eleven or so we visited a place called Crystal Park outside Dillon in Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. An older boy gave me a large quartz crystal that he had found. It was embarrassing at the time, but I still have it. Later that day I remember crowding around an ancient Tamarack Pine that needed to be felled, imagining its tangled roots wrapped around an ancient amethyst, like something from “The Lord of the Rings.” No such luck, though our visit here so many years ago was the initial impetus for our trip this summer.

fence line

This summer we were able to travel these same marked and unmarked roads, explore these same rivers and camp among these beautiful pine and quakie forests. Brian and my parents made this trip happen. My Mom and Dad efficiently and lovingly cooked and prepped and gathered supplies, and my little family showed up and we hit the road. Our time spent visiting around the campfire, along with my brother and his daughter, and Brian’s awesome parents and his brother’s wonderful family, made the trip even more special. I am so grateful.

me mama daddy

We were so lucky to have the cousins racing through the campgrounds, building forts, playing catch and chasing marauding “chickmunks.” Brian made bows and arrows from willows cut and carved near Grasshopper Creek. (You can imagine their popularity!) The kids dug ferociously and tirelessly for crystals at Crystal Park (and for garnets and sapphires in Philipsburg). The water pump at Crystal Park spilled the coldest, purest water I have ever tasted. You had to work for it, and I imagined it flowing through dark dirt and filtering through large, ice-colored quartz to the surface. So delicious after so many hot hours digging for treasures.

bows arrows

crystal park

There are so many moments within a trip like this. I always try to take notes to remember them all (impossible), but this is a favorite: One night, Brian, my Dad and I walked to a nearby meadow to watch the stars. It was pure dark and cold away from the light of our campfire. We’d turned our headlamps off some time before in order to see the stars. Nervously, and somewhat loudly, I told Brian: “We’re not going any further!” To which he replied, from about three inches away, “Well, that’s good.” His photos are phenomenal (as always). To see that many stars and our Milky Way is a gift.

milky way

And another vignette: Brian, my brother and I saw an osprey pair watching us closely as we walked near the bridge outside Wisdom. Their downy-headed chick peered quietly over the edge of his platform nest of sticks and branches. We continued on and chased the sunset in our ridiculous and luxurious Chevy Tahoe rental, talking and listening to music. Sandhill Cranes danced through a meadow. And there were bald eagles and antelope and elk and and and . . .


I need to write about the Big Hole National Battlefield. The Bannack Ghost Town, too.

Our drive home to Utah brought us a beautiful rain storm. The smell of lightning, sage, earth and ozone cleared my head of the static of my daily life. A feeling I need to hold fast to. That storm and a double rainbow brought us all the way home.

Montana is magic: the Treasure State. And our Montana Mythology grew this summer. For those loved ones who couldn’t join us this time, we’ll be back.


Sunday in October

October 28, 2016

Chile Rellenos flipped in the frying pan.
Anaheims picked before the first frost.
Spanish Rice steams in the avocado-green
electric skillet.
Chile Verde in the pressure cooker.
(I’m still too afraid to use one.)
“We are Family” on the stereo.
Of course.

My dad and brother, home from golf,
Wrestle on the grass,
Cut yesterday for the last time this year.

My mother, sister and I cook together.
“Hot Stuff” on the stereo.
Sunday in October.


June 29, 2016

I invite the swallowtail to rest a while,
in the shade,
next to me.
But there is too much sun,
and fun,
and wind to wait.
And a flicker of warm yellow flits along blue sky.


May 20, 2016

And suddenly, I am a mother.
Not like flipping a switch.
Nothing so nonchalant.
But a forging in the fire.
Heart opened like a diamond,
shaped and welded from dark coal.
Eyes never so clear and knowing;
the veil lifted between this world and the next.
My edges finally smoothed by time and love.
This Mama and her firstborn son.

Jamie, Almost 5

April 28, 2016

Tucked into my armpit,
You were all mine from the start.
I left work to keep you with me—
My sidekick.
Now, just a few short months,
and then kindergarten.
Today I told you I was sleepy.
You assured me:
“Aw, don’t worry lil shrimp.
We’ll get you a coffee.”
On these days when it’s mainly
you and me,
I wonder about the minutia
of my days without you with me.

Holiday Party

December 17, 2015

I can still carry you from the car,
warm and sleepy.
Your feet bounce against my knees.
Your face pushed into the curve of my shoulder.

We press weighted limbs into jammies,
brush teeth quickly.
You’re coherent enough (thankfully) to climb
the ladder to your bed.

Years ago (that’s how big you are now),
I nursed and swaddled you for bed
at that same house, another celebration.
Your eyes were as luminous as the moon.

Tahiti Sunset

December 14, 2015

The roses bloom in deep autumn,
Impervious to the foreshadowing of a Bay winter.
I can relate, though I do crave the deluge they predict.

The protest against hibernation,
Push of petals toward cold, morning air.
Just a slice of sunshine this time of year.

The blooms’ spicy scents sharpen with my attention.


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