Walking in the West Oak Cemetery

Dakota (my vision for Nugget)
Walking in the West Oak Cemetery

Our path is well worn with quiet company 
and silent memories. We walk this way 
nearly every day, an adventure of sorts for 
me and my dog, Nugget, a big brown bear of a dog,
ever curious, even as his hearing dissipates like summer rain on a sidewalk. He’s blind now, but that seems to have only heightened his courage, not stopped him at all from looking at everything with fresh young eyes. He shows me the meaning of beginner’s mind, slow strides shape a sense of optimism, intrigue, and mystery. 

The air is crisp, one of those days when birdsong
sounds clearer, with the fall breeze rolling in
as if the sea were near. Just a month ago 
the sun was bright in the sky and the air
was warm as a winter’s fire in the den. 
The light around us has a smoky orange glow, the last of the sun squeezing her light through 
the old oaks that border the west perimeter 
of this graveyard that is our walking world. 

Nuggie leads me along at a gentle pace,
not the hurried rush of his youth, or mine. 
Sniffing every tree along the gravel path 
that meanders through this little spirit village – 
as if he’s never been here before. 
What is it that makes him linger? 
The sweet scent of a comrade he’d like 
to meet one day, nose-to-nose, I suspect. 

Sometimes he paws at a patch of grass,
like there’s an answer to a question he’s been asking his entire life. I confess, I tend to lose my patience after he’s done this 3 times, so I give a little tug on his leash and he reluctantly lifts his gray old face offering the most pathetic of expressions, as if to say “Really? This is my joy!” 

Nug disappointed with me, and me 
disappointed with me, we amble along. 
I lose myself in the crunch of my boots 
on the pebbled path, the swish of my sweater
as my arms move to the rhythm of our walk.

As the first fall leaves drip from the sky,
my little Nugget lifts his moist dark nose
as if he can smell the passage of the season, 
and understand how dying makes compost for the living.  

This poem is also part of a collection I put together called Little Morsels of Delight.

Come with me to Lake Koronis


Come with Me to Lake Koronis

Come with me on my adventure
through the fields of opportunity and the land of 10,000 lakes
from my home in Iowa to my friend’s cabin in Minnesota
as I travel through a stitching of interstates, highways, and county roads
with truckers, convoys of sand-colored military trucks, caravans of campers and summer vacationers,
even a pair of vintage cars in a powder blue and cherry red with shimmering silver accents,
and a car with an ONLYNOW license plate – a reminder to stay present with what’s here.

So much to notice traveling in solitude and so many opportunities to connect with nature…
the lakes like polka dots along the road, big and little, on the right and on the left,
rows and rows of corn in flowing fields, and soybeans as great big green canvases for the sky,
prairie grass and wildflowers in shades of purple, yellow and white,
miles and miles of Queen Anne’s lace flowers like a ribbon fringe along the road,
wide green rivers, streams and creeks dividing the land, lily-lined road-side ditches,
rolling hills with stripes of oak trees, and cows lazily grazing and sleeping.

The birds greet me like long-lost friends –
bluebirds on the power lines watching the road like some sort of movie made just for them,
swallows darting across and alongside the road catching supper for their babies,
red-wing blackbirds squawking from bush to tree with their colorful surprise,
even an eagle floating on the thermals.

I pass towns with names that evoke mind’s-eye images of nature that surprise and delight,
like Elk Run Heights, Deer Wood, Cedar Valley, River Forest, Lone Tree, and Big Woods,
Marble Rock, Blooming Prairie, Blue Earth, Crystal Springs, and Eagle Lake, too.

Farmsteads amidst gentle rolling hills with barns and silos and northern windbreaks,
old dusty roads and pickup trucks, and motorcycles and tractors for sale from the road-side lawns,
hay bales wound up tight and resting on mowed strips of someone’s land,
small cemeteries set on green patches of lawn sprinkled with trees amidst the crops,
water towers proudly shouting the names of their ‘don’t blink’ sized towns,
even a city parade in Cosmos, a quaint place with streets like Gemini, Pegasus, Orion, and Vega.

My eyes greeted by a train of gray and black tankers 100-cars long stopped along a scenic curve,
modern inventions like wind-mill farms dancing in the breeze,
and whimsy, like a sparkly billboard that advertises exclusively diamonds,
a by-plane flying low as it lands into a regional airport,
and white cotton candy clouds dotting the baby blue sky
casting shadows over the land as I near my destination
and the excitement of my Lake Koronis adventure mounts.


I couldn’t take photos as I traveled north yesterday to spend a week with my friend Blair and her dog Lola at her lake cabin so I captured my experience in words instead. What a beautiful, wondrous drive – and such a gift to be able to get away in this special way with my incredible friend. This is my 4th year visiting this amazing place. I’ve included a few bonus photos below so you can see just how beautiful it is.

i don’t know

Doolin Ireland - 3 Surprised Sheep.JPG

I don’t know.

Given the fact that there is more that I don’t (than do) know, why is it so challenging to embrace these 3 little words?

Maybe because, from the time we are wee little things and on through school and work, we are rewarded knowing stuff, for getting things right, having answers? Maybe because when we know, we feel safe and in control?

I’m finding, though, there’s a power in accepting that I don’t know. In a way, it is freeing. With a little curiosity, not knowing can be an adventure, and even fun.

How do you feel about not knowing?


* My husband and I surprised these 3 sheep when we showed up on the road next to their field, which was situated on the coast in Doolin, Ireland. (It was sunset and I also caught this sweet swallow resting on a fence along the road.)