Birthday Eagle, Rio Grande

Here I am, winter again, my birth month

Waiting for snow, seeking employment

Missing my people, wishing for more time to myself

First day back to school; the children are not gone long enough for me to attend to all that needs tending when they aren’t at home,  the children are away from home for far too long for my heart.

Last week, I emerged from the quiet, winter desert in full bloom and dove headlong into the enchanted forest: a new year, a new constellation of women and children, the same yurt and trails to get there by.

We sweetly sat and fed one another, lay and read and napped all along our full day there while the wind kicked up and poured over the canvas roof. We, coastal children, raising mountain children, thought of ocean waves, remembered friends gone back to other native lands, probed each other’s narratives and that of the larger world, knit and sewed, stepped outside to ski, to draw, to chop wood, to make water.

It was a day that illuminated our need for deep rest, the pause of mid winter, and seemed to highlight the world’s need for more of the same.

Today, after a brief whirlwind of household tending in the calm of this first day home alone, I said aloud “good job, honey”, to myself, and giggled all the way down the hall.


Wildcat Pine Bark




Gratitude is a sure path to grace, so I’ve been told. I am allowing it to exercise itself upon me this bright afternoon.

Slow gesture of color in the descending diffusion of herbs and leaves, the still waters otherwise at rest in the sunshine. Quaking vines and pines, shadows pass over me, a ballet performance, too: a two tipped offering from Uncle Pine, dancing as if with paired fairy legs, each gusty breath of wind sets them aflutter once again across the earthen wall. Cloaked in a nook of yellow leaves, lit up big from behind, I sit, a Writer’s Table my horizontal tableau.

The world is slowly turning, as ever, and with it the deep inhale of lengthening nights. Evenings, we set alight candles, fires, lanterns and songs to keep our eyes bright for meeting the gaze of others. Care is being given to the dusty corners of the home and the rusty, crusty mess of our neglected, work-worn feet. We are listening to hear the earth fall to slumber, our hearts striving to grow and fill this space of darkness with love, light. Hibernating, we dream our way through these early winter nights, trusting the aperture of solstice to work it’s magic one more time.

How are you keeping the personal and familial light within lit this season?





We have shifted from late summer’s wane to early autumn’s chill over this past weekend much as I remember being the case with Liam’s debut seven years ago. Summer sure is fleet of foot around here, but-oh, apples and sweaters and cook out fires and pie. I’ll get by.

Having lived seven years as a mom, my self identifying (mid 30s, educated, white, progressive) is starting to even out in my pulse rather than maintaining it’s early roar of: What Do My Choices Say About Me, What Is Best, Who Will tell Me and What Does The World Believe It Knows of Me By My Choices? I can still remember stomping along the western edge of Central Park after dark, pounding my feet to the refrain, Who am I, Who am I? (Thank you, Yassin Bey.)

Becoming a wife and mother did not appear as well-trodden paths of tradition and culture to my younger self, though as time has gone on, I have noticed more places where my footsteps overlap with my own mother, my foremothers. It felt like I had stepped into a cultural watershed where natural birthing, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, co-sleeping, cloth diapering, elimination communication, baby-wearing, etc, etc were just being discovered, rediscovered and proselytized about. This perspective, of course, was part and parcel with living on the edge of Park Slope and Fort Green in 2008.

My choice to attempt natural births while at home has been hard to shine light on since, particularly in relation to the more challenging, medicated experiences of friends, when I want to be a supportive doula friend. The incredulous looks of strangers and family members and my own over indulgence in reading broadly on the internet: essays assuming home birth it as a practice of self harm, self hate or lack of feminism to ignore the choices provided by modern medicine.

And for sure, I have had to unwind a lot of what I got wound up in early on in my process of forging new identity: Yes, mom, of course I want a stroller now or Hell no, I am not making all your baby food, baby. I will however still be the mom asking you what screens my kids will have access to at your house and for how long, just as I will still be cajoling my boys outdoors to take walks and play in the mud.

I want to celebrate what I have experienced, the sheer weight and push of life passing through my body, not just once but twice. I know that if pain medicine was offered, I would have gladly swallowed (or exposed my lower spine as the case may be) and I am so grateful for the sense memory of the work, the labor, my body conducted. I feel the lineage of humanity in my bones for that.

My oldest little boy is seven now and childhood is fleet of foot, too. Already, he is not the one daily collecting gun and dagger shaped sticks by the armload. He did, sweetly, dip back into his costuming phase recently and took up his four year old self’s super hero toys. I wonder if it was a gesture of touching into younger childhood before stepping into the middle years. He is learning to read and write now and be brave in new friendships. He is so, so cool.

I wrote this next piece as a reflection on his birth. Having just reread it, I resist the urge to add, subtract or revise. I include it here as my own gesture of touching back in time:

The Body Decides:

The next day, my Jackie and I hung out, she fresh in from Tel Aviv;
she brought her period and my body responded with cramps, er
contractions. We walked to Prospect Park and spent a lazy day on the
lawn watching clouds, studying for doctor exams and then getting a
breastfeeding support pillow. The next two days, my body continued to
have contractions at random intervals and I walked ALOT. I was really
tired of being pregnant and trying to get the last few details in
order (says pre mom Devon). I felt unsure if this meant labor was
imminent, I did not want to jinx anything!
Wed night I began to have regularly occurring contractions a bit after
midnight and they lasted up until KC woke for work at which point I told
him “hon, I think I’ve been having contractions all night” “you
think?” was his logical response “ok, I’ve been having contractions
all night” (still not ready to own it).
I ate breakfast with him, texted my midwife and went back to sleep
until 11am, awoke to contractions still regular 20-30 min apart and
noticing that my back really hurt with each contraction.
Long story shorter, labor continued through the day, evening and
night. The back pain got increasingly miserable. I used tennis balls
to massage while I was home alone, KC got back around 4pm and took over
the back massage, we walked a bit, I ate a little more. I felt like
labor could go on all night and was unsure about telling my mom and
Jackie to come over at this point. KC started setting up the tub in
the living room (see his story for that part). I spent good time in
the shower with my yoga ball and hot water on my spine. Around 11pm my
vocalizations ranged from whimpers to screams and I was starting to
wonder where the freaking baby was. I found satisfaction in hitting my
wall during the contractions and found it really hard to relax during
them, but took the rest that I could between them at about 7 min apart.
Jackie arrived and tag teamed my back massages with KC and I put them
in charge of calling Kristen (my awesome, awesome midwife) when the
time was nigh. I had no interest in knowing times, measurements, any
numbers, but I really wanted things to progress so I could get to the
other side.


Around 1pm, I got up and made my way to the tub, hoping fervently that
if I got into it, I’d get back out with my baby. I started to feel
like I wanted to push (a strange sensation like, mmm, maybe a head
resting on your cervix). I told KC this twice and he called Kristen
who said she’d be right over. That was what I was waiting to hear! (I
had no real idea of how long it would take until one’s midwife shows up
but, really, what’s she going to do? Watch every contraction for 20
It turned out that she did not have long to wait, she arrived and I
was pretty much bellowing (ahem, vocalizing) through my contractions
while KC kept tremendous pressure on my back and he and Jackie said
nice, encouraging things. Kristen told me I could push and to try to
use some of my breath to push down. Good advice and I finally felt
like I was having productive pain. She told me to reach down and feel
what was going on and I could feel the water sac emerging and beyond
it my kid’s head. All I wanted was labor to end, so I was screaming
and pushing as hard as I could (after she reassured me it was normal
that it felt as though my asshole was going to burst) I could feel the
baby’s head come out, I thought he was biting me (his hand was next to
his face I learned, a true child of teachers, born with a question)
I had to wait a bit for contractions, but I was feeling pretty
hopeful now that I would be able to take a rest in the near future. A few more
pushes, when I heard “reach down and pick up your baby”. He was floating
and slippery, he was a baby. KC and I spent a while in the tub with
him while his cord finished pulsing and I delivered the placenta.


KC and I are very much learning how to be parents and I feel we are
off to a strong start. Breastfeeding was an initial challenge, but
we’ve made a lot of progress. I feel like I need to do more processing
of the actual birth-because it was scary, but it was beautiful and
powerful and I can’t believe I did it at all, let alone at home with
the indispensable help of my husband and best friends. I started
drawing some pictures about it today.
Liam really likes to sleep, just not at night, so that’s our biggest
challenge is trying to get enough rest.
My mom has turned out (not surprisingly) to be the world’s best post-
partum doula and has been helping us and loving us tremendously. Good
family and friends have been bringing us food. My step mom and mother
in law have been tremendous breastfeeding support, calm and
reassuring in the face of a bawling newborn.


How do we love ourselves, let me count the ways


Fortunate am I in having had a mid-day’s excursion to Coney Island this summer that is passing so swiftly now (and did you know its name comes from the many rabbits that used to populate the dunes? It’s true). For me, it’s an easy delight to drift from the subway station onto the boardwalk and sand, walking in reverie of days imagined and gone by; the Cyclone still creaking terrifyingly along, women in their woolen bloomers walking the towline into the sea to bathe up to their shins and now, I, fancy free to do what I will for the day.

This exquisite summer day, the beachfront was packed with modern type folk of all shapes, sizes and dispositions, though, upon reflection, the Williamsburg set maybe ought to take up the 20’s bloomers look sooner than later. Looking back at the iconic rides, the faint trill of barkers on the boardwalk, bodybuilders showing off on the metal bars, Frisbee players kicking up sand sprays, shirtless, older men with metal detectors, countless children running with abandon or fright into and out of the surf, bikini clad young women necking with girlfriends, families with hugely elaborate set ups to lug across the sand, old men escorting much younger women staring at their phones, a full spectrum of color and possibility. The world comes to Brooklyn and it’s as seductive as anything I have ever seen.

I enter slowly; it is a pilgrimage, a home coming, a full sensory experience to show up and inhale. I walk, crawl, skip and hop in my yogi way from dry sand to teasing line of ocean front.  All I have is this time and I won’t be back for awhile.

Resting on the surface of the salty water, my buoyancy was such that I envisioned falling straight up into the sky in a moment of heedless jubilation. My feet sank down and my head back up so that I might peer shoreward, inspecting from a floating distance my backpack’s continued turtle like nature. I had flown in on a red eye from Albuquerque and all my relevant objects were in that one bag; other days it was biking down Ocean Parkway to the beach or driving down the same with a young nephew in tow that necessitated that look back. There are no lockers at Coney Island.

Here, I immerse myself in people watching; the sellers with water bottles in plastic bags, softly rounded women pushing carts of ices, dressed for a cooler season and tinkling with bells, and the miraculous appearance of the Nutcracker salesman and his merrily named, fluorescent colored drink concoctions: “Call a Cab, Kick in the Nuts, Purple Motherfucker”, etc. My people on the ground tell me one can now have a Nutcracker delivery guy for home enjoyment- oh Brooklyn; you have so many wares and all for sale. I rejoice like Whitman at these small ecstasies, the audacity to shout such things over the heads of grandmothers and see bills bob up, fishing for intoxication.

And as I bobbed and floated and swam like the fish I mostly wish to be, I pondered: what if we all are beautiful as is, these supposedly brave or unabashed souls who strut out and let their flesh show so that they might enjoy the day unencumbered, what if we really feel our beauty in our uniqueness and let drop the story lines and judgments against ourselves and one another and just play free?


Crushing It With Grapes

Right now, my hands smell like chives and parsley and it has been awhile since that’s been true.

Gardening can look like a poor metaphor when my glazed eyes are surveying this year’s small attempt at growing food; three years in New Mexico has taught me that it is a true endeavor to eek sustenance out of the red soil. Locally, I am captivated and appalled by this sad ending of Gaia Gardens; an amazing exemplar of how to do just that.

My time in fertile parts of the country and my penchant for staring at homesteading blogs in my early years of parenting has kept me trying, but this year I have scaled way back on my ambitions. Lazily, I have flat out refused to water for stretches of time, trusting in rains that only fall by whim and chance to provide for my plants.

So, rather than expecting groceries to emerge from my patch of earth when for three years I have been witness to withering and dying by sun, drought, insect, cat and benign neglect, I tried to keep it way simple. Carrots and basil planted alongside my boy, greens in the hoop house, experimental melons and squashes, sunflowers for fun, oh, and potatoes, because I never have.

My ability to tend is all used up most days before the plants make the list, but one of the sweetest times of day is just past bedtime, just past sunset, standing in the yard. This year, as a gardener and landscaper cum woman of the earth, I have most relished trimming back plants, ripping out weeds, digging and yanking out roots and food plants gone to flower to soon. This is why I smell of parsley, and chives, right now.

All I really want these days is for my children and myself to have the opportunity to eat directly from plants rooted in the earth. I don’t need to be the one to sow and tend them directly, but simply to recognize and honor them while they are enjoyed. I want to be part of the village, rather than trying to be the village.

Most of what I planted this season is now suffering along the spectrum of Failure to Thrive and I fall back into gratefulness for those who do the planting and tending for me. The real metaphor in my gardening life is to do what I can and do it well, in time.

The other evening, I was able to reach up from my lazy, midnight hammock ride and pluck a grape right into my mouth, late summer sweetness is all around.




One Summer

There was a time when I rode a Greyhound bus from the Port Authority in New York City straight through to Medora, North Dakota. I cannot remember if I carried a cell phone way back then, but I do know that my sister was carrying my nephew back on Long Island and the journey lasted about three days and as many nights.

I saw Milwaukee brewing establishments from the window and sprinted down a sidewalk in Madison as far from the bus as half my time allotted. I must have been all of twenty four.

I had never been to Medora, nor heard of it, to be honest. This was during a time in my life, just after college, when I experimented with different short team, seasonal, data collection jobs for various scientists. In those days, I was able to name myself a seasonal, migrant worker and that did cause some of the more genteel folk I came upon to startle.

When you sit on a Greyhound bus for days and nights on end, there is a blurry quality, you hope, to the experience; no person or persons being too loud, no experience too jarring, just a serene land-based excursion across the hinterland. So, I wasn’t sure how I would know my stop as distinguished from all the other small towns, except that it bordered the National Park where I would be working which was named after Teddy Roosevelt and contained North Dakota’s badlands.

The road had been flat for quite some time and then to the right outside of my window the plains seemed to break into swiftly falling cliffs and ravines of many colors and just as I observed this and registered it as a land that might be called “bad”, I heard my stop called and I swiftly alighted from my diesel steed.

Medora was (and I presume is) a small town and with that, a cast of characters. I walked an easy half block to a timber built bookstore (where I would later be lucky to be both employed and surrounded by excellent literature native to the plains) and after inquiring from the owner, learned that the parks’ housing I was seeking were a scant three blocks further on away from the main drag and towards the Park.

I lived in a small house, first in a row that looked across the pavement to the park itself. I shared it with my field-mate, a very nice young man and that first night we affected nonchalance at the idea of bunking together in a shared room; twin beds separated by an average sized nightstand, when our only slightly older employer gave us the word.

This part of North Dakota, in the summertime, is unlike anywhere else I have been. Wild horses and buffalo were about the land. Wildflowers, rattle snakes, biting flies without a doubt and mudpuppies once or twice in a proper pond. It is quiet and beautiful, the heavens are bright.

Our job was to collect data on the area’s amphibians; eggs through adults, location and frequency and the like. The land there is often dry and the little guys were likely to breed after rains, we would hunt out the footprints left by buffalo where a puddle might form long enough for eggs to be laid.

The plains break, so I learned to call it, and colored layers thread horizontally through the broken parts, looking like birthday cake and letting us stare down the years.

One friend worked in the town’s bike shop. At the end of this summer, he would pack my bike and ship it to Brooklyn, where I would quickly be relieved of it after falling to lock more than my front wheel at the Botanic Gardens; swift teacher, that Brooklyn.

The Maah Daah Hey Bike Trail ran nearby and there was some passion for off mountain biking in the area, including amongst my set of friends. I made some evening forays on my own, because I have never been cool enough to ride with reasonable abandon off road, up and down small stream beds, past wildflowers, to the river and it’s swallow-built nests and smooth, cool stones.

Another friend, who grew up outside of town, up on the higher lands, brought me to ride horses. The horse stepped on my combat boot shod foot, I shoved and she stepped off and it was all right. We rode and rode west and then she pointed further on and told me, “That’s the Breaks up there” and then I knew what to call them. Later, I’d learn that Brooklyn comes from “broken land”, too.

The main saloon in town sat adjacent to the railroad tracks. We drank there and urinated off the other side of the tracks when it got late enough to warrant such behavior. One night, extra young science collectors in town, we all emerged from the saloon into a drenching rain and played football in the street. It felt emblematic in the moment and I have never done that again, to be sure.

My field mate and I spent long days traipsing over the land, employing compass and GPS to visit our froggy sites and mark newly discovered ones. My uniform was galoshes, mud caked pants and my aunt’s old button down shirts with a sun hat to top me off.

One day with a cool breeze and a strong sun, we came upon a group of wild horses eating from the grasses and we crouched behind boulders to gaze at them, time slowed down to a near stop. That was the time when we most nearly held hands and I felt ashamed that I did not know if I could do so for just that magic moment and not feel beholden ever after.

Too, we played at bowling where the rocks were the size of bowling balls on pedestals of softer, eroded rock. We went bowling for real in a bigger town, near the Walmart, due east. It was there I felt ambition rise: to see my name on bowling alley walls across the land for high score, another as of yet unrealized dream.

It was a simple summer, ice cream cones, bbqs and work without direct oversight. The Iyengar Way came in the mail, from a NM friend, and my outdoor yoga practice, under shade cast by cottonwood trees, began. I contemplated a job in the Florida Keys, monitoring the fall hawk migration, but instead returned home to Long Island to await the birth of my nephew and wait tables for a spell. I’d like to go back.

Street Life

Rather begrudgingly, over the last three years, I adapted to the car-based lifestyle that is the common way of getting around in modern, U.S. communities.

It’s not that one cannot ride bikes here. In fact, many do, but our home’s location relative to the places we elect to go has not presented many opportunities for purposeful riding. That and circumstances: moving through a second pregnancy towards toddlerhood was not so fancy free as to allow for bike rides.

I say all this because I relish nearly everything about being a bike commuter: the breeze on my skin, the freedom from non movement, gas use and traffic, the revolutionary act it still seems to be.

In Brooklyn, biking was cake and cars were to be rented or borrowed to get out dodge on the weekends. I was one human, there were well marked lanes everywhere and there was a flow that one could drop into: buzzing past cars parked on the Belt Parkway and heading to the freedom of the Rockaways or gulping the fresh air of Prospect Park’s forested heart on my way to or from P.S. 93. Those days were golden. Oh, and the drinking and biking as opposed to drinking and driving-way better.

Then, we moved onto Boulder, which now seems to me a mecca in terms of alternative transportation. One of my first days there on a bike, I pulled out without signaling (in my defensive NYC style) and was aggressively chastised by a motorist who didn’t want to kill me. A change of attitude was quickly required on my part.

We two had become three and eventually acquired a car for grocery trips and hiking outside of town, but other than that, I biked, he biked, we all biked. And there the bike paths run alongside of creeks and tunnels zip you under the roadways. A bicyclist is respected and cared for by the, pre-dominantly Prius and Subaru, driving population. I biked my toddler to school and playdates, I biked to work and yoga myself. It was rather divine.

Now, we are four and working our way up to family bike rides and family bike commuting. Last week, I biked 35 commuter miles by my self, after three years of relative un-biking, and I felt just like myself again; cool mornings headed to teaching in Brooklyn and Boulder and now Santa Fe, breeze rustling up the sunset grasses along the Maah Daah Hey Trail. My knees are still readjusting, but my legs, heart and mind have been thanking me wildly. I am back and it feels quite good.