All posts by Trudy

A Capital Morning on Virginia’s Eastern Shore by Alex Joyner

Photo of old house with light shining over it
 

You tiptoe back towards religion, in my experience, cautiously and nervously and more than a little suspicious, quietly hoping that it wasn’t all smoke and nonsense, that there is some deep wriggle of genius and poetry and power and wild miracle in it, that it is a language you can use to speak about that for which we have no words. —Brian Doyle, A Prayer for You & Yours   Those trees just there were purple a half-hour ago. The kind of mango purple that only appears on winter mornings when the sun’s light has … Continue reading A Capital Morning on Virginia’s Eastern Shore by Alex Joyner

The Enormous Gift by Laura Marello

Rocks in water
 

Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer. Simone Weil Love is not merely an emotion. It is a meltdown that reestablishes a more unified space of brilliance, goodness, and sadness. This is the real function of love in spiritual tradition. Lama Lodro Dorje   Last week, the week before my last semester of university teaching (online, in an unprecedented pandemic), I had the most extraordinary experience with a stranger that I have ever had in my long life. I was nervous as always about the semester starting, but extra nervous because of what that last full-time teaching … Continue reading The Enormous Gift by Laura Marello

Altered State by Trudy Hale

Photo of wheat fields
 

It all started when a friend in California sent me three used paperbacks that someone donated to her sidewalk library. My friend and I hoped that my nephew who is stranded here during the pandemic without school or camp might pick up a book and read. One of the books was The Prairie, by James Fenimore Cooper. I admit I had never been able to read past the first chapter in the author’s The Last of the Mohicans. It was a sweltering July day and I sat at my kitchen table, possibly waiting for a phone call. … Continue reading Altered State by Trudy Hale

A Plague Tale by Trudy Hale

Profile view of woman wearing plague mask
 

I run a writers’ retreat in a nineteenth-century farmhouse on the James River in Norwood, Virgina.  My quarters are at  the rear of the three-story house and consist of a large country kitchen with a woodstove, a mudroom, and a staircase leading up to my bedroom and small office. On the morning of February 7th I pick up my sixteen-year-old nephew at the Charlottesville airport. I spot him waiting at the baggage. He has grown taller since I saw him last. A lean boyish body and freckled nose, his light brown hair in a Westside … Continue reading A Plague Tale by Trudy Hale

Maps: Surviving Social Distancing by David Roach

Old map of the world
 

Right now, sitting in my armchair, I’m imagining myself at the Camilla House bed and breakfast in Penzance, listening to Fiona, the charming proprietor, as she tells me about her favorite local restaurants and pubs. How can I be two places at once? I’m recalling my visit to Cornwall three years ago by looking at my Ordnance Survey Motoring Atlas of Britain. I love maps, especially road maps. Studying a map, I can see where I am, where I’m going, or where I’ve been. In my imagination, I convert its two dimensions into three, and … Continue reading Maps: Surviving Social Distancing by David Roach

Insouciance by Laura Marello

Photo of royal penguin with its chick
 

I just wrote a new book of poems called Celestial Navigation. One of my favorite stanzas says: Penguins man the caps, huddle against the wind, sheltering downy chicks flaunting their deep insouciance their paradoxical grittiness. For a while now, revising the book, I have thought I should look up “insouciance” because I am not really sure I know what it means. So, I look it up: definition: casual lack of concern; indifference. synonyms: nonchalance, unconcern, lack of concern, indifference, heedlessness, relaxedness, calm, calmness, equanimity, coolness, composure, casualness, ease, easygoing attitude, airiness, carefreeness, frivolousness, carelessness; informal, … Continue reading Insouciance by Laura Marello

Walking the Via Dolorosa of the Confederacy by Alex Joyner

Photo of sign of Appomattox Court House National Historic Park
 

Once I spent an afternoon at Appomattox walking the Via Dolorosa of the Confederacy. The Richmond-Lynchburg Stage Road is mostly just a trace now but this is the scene of the last march. Here’s where Bobby Lee rested beneath an apple tree (Gethsemane) waiting for word from Grant. Here’s where he met his troops after the surrender (And Lee wept). Here’s the long hill to the surrender ground lined with Union troops—ordered by Chamberlain to offer a profound salute to the beaten rebels. It’s all here in Appomattox—the gracious, merciful victors and the humble, honorable … Continue reading Walking the Via Dolorosa of the Confederacy by Alex Joyner

Deep Ellum B.C. by Alex Joyner

photo of bookstore with sepia tone
 

Wednesday night in Deep Ellum, the eclectic little arts neighborhood lingering in the shadow of I-45 east of Dallas’s downtown. Ever since the 19-teens when Blind Lemon Jefferson came to the barbershops and dives of Elm Street to play the blues with Lead Belly and T-Bone Walker, the area had a reputation as a collection point for artists, misfits, and the occasional spectacular violent outburst. By August 2017, it hadn’t much changed. Pecan Lodge, a hipster barbecue joint, and the brightly-tiled Café Brazil were colonizing the neighboring streets, but the scruffy music and arts scene … Continue reading Deep Ellum B.C. by Alex Joyner

A Runaway Life by Mariflo Stephens

Train running on mountain
 

I live a runaway life. I’m a writer, a wife, and a mother and, like a lot of women who tire of the multi-layered duties that come with that combination, I need to get away. Right now, what I’m running away from is a story. That could be funny since I’m a short story writer, a comedic one at that. But it’s not funny. Usually I run away to Washington, D.C. I ride the train from Charlottesville and settle in the quiet car. The train sways slowly from side to side. It’s like being calmed … Continue reading A Runaway Life by Mariflo Stephens

Journaling with Jenny by Jenny Patton

Sharpened pencils pointing up
 

When I was seven, I made my own journal out of legal pad paper—a little book that sparked a lifelong passion for writing down my thoughts, feelings and desires. E.M. Forster asks, “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” Here’s my take: “How do I know who I am until I see what I think?” Journal writing has been proven to combat stress and help treat eating disorders, depression, addiction and other psychologically rooted problems. People who write about past traumas show stronger immune systems. After my mom died, … Continue reading Journaling with Jenny by Jenny Patton