These are some “first” colors of the 2009 fall season. This group was done on the iPhone just around the house.  I must say this is one of the most beautiful times of the year in Maine.  It’s cooler, dryer and the vestiges of summer’s glorious colors are just about done. I will add to this album as the opportunity permits.

Cleaning off a book shelf today, I discovered an old pocket calendar & journal from 1994. I had to take a few deep breaths to regain my equilibrium after reading some of the entries and comments I had made and had mercifully forgotten. I usually do not bother with the past. I firmly believe that the only effective way to deal with life is not to drag the past along. Yet it is sometimes instructive to rummage around in a box of memories just for the odd bits of wisdom that may be hiding in there.

Fifteen years ago is a lifetime if you have been moving forward. 1994 was the year of my second divorce. It was the marriage that wasn’t supposed to fail. Of course, they all are supposed to last forever. Lesson learned: nothing is forever – specially if it involves matrimony. That was the year I learned to live alone. I had never done that except for brief periods during my first flirtation with singlehood. And I did only flirt with it. This time it took most of two years to realize I was pretty good company and I actually enjoyed spending an evening with myself.

One of the notations in that date book was on the first Wednesday of each month. There was an organization called The Live Poet’s Society that met then and I enjoyed being a part of that. I was attempting to write a poem or two from time to time and participated in the readings that our little community sponsored. There was also a small theater group that gave me an opportunity I never dreamed to have. I was in with a group of good kayakers and became a kind of pseudo kayaker in that I swam more rapids than I paddled. These activities gave to me much more than I gave to them but it was nevertheless a rewardingly creative and exciting period in my life.

When I saw the date on the final decree of my divorce I had to smile at the unanticipated irony. The date of the decree was the exact 45th anniversary of my first marriage. I was alone at the hearing in district court in Bangor, Maine. I never felt more alone. I walked out of that court room and got into my truck and sat there with all those years tumbling through my mind and couldn’t think of the next move.

I am pretty sure that were it today I would have had the forethought to being along a bottle of Sapphire Gin, a sandwich and some chips, and I would have taken those accessories to a great spot I know overlooking the ocean and forgotten reality for a few hours.

In truth the year proved to be a very social and productive year for me and one that put me on the path that led to where I am now. Now is quite good.

I rediscovered and build up some old relationships and began to think outside the tightly limiting Central Maine Box. It was I, after all, who was limiting myself. It always is. Geography is just geography, and time, well, marches on. All roads lead both ways. I took one that said “Do Not Enter” and it was the right way.

I won’t look into old calendars again soon. I have a stack of journals two feet tall. So far I have managed to avoid them. Here I am writing new journals about old journals. I envision a midnight fire in the woods out back, probably at the winter solstice, where I burn all those pages of the past and lighten my load for the year of coming light and new discoveries.

I’m Jerry Henderson



I was sitting outside the Apple Store in Portland’s Maine Mall yesterday in one of the few comfortable chairs in the entire mall – I don’t understand that part – text messaging a friend up in Waldoboro kind of rubbing it in for his being stuck so far in the boonies while I was basking in the glow of glitzy computing hardware. 

I looked up at the passing crowd – this is my favorite mall activity as actually shopping in a mall is my idea of a consumer root canal (Apple Stores are excluded from this judgement) – when I locked onto a young couple pushing a baby carriage at a leisurely pace. Not that remarkable in and of itself, but their choice of attire was. Both wore loose tops that sort of flapped down around their knees and did not touch a body part, both being noticeably thin in a parade noticeably porky shoppers.

It was not so much what they wore as how they wore it. Both of them could have gotten into either top. I can see it now. No, let’s pass on that. Next were the jeans which magically did not fall down around their ankles. Loose is the word and yet it does not quite make the picture work. And, and this is the real “badge” of the clan, they seemed to be walking on at least a foot of their jeans which were frayed and tattered beyond any evidence of a hem or other finished stitching. Oh and the laces on her right shoe were flopping about like buggy whips which I was convinced was going to trip her on her next step. I actually had the intense but brief impulse to run over and say something like, “Mam, (okay, it’s a southern thing), please tie your shoe laces before you trip and land on top of the baby.”

The baby: I am not that good with the ages of pre-todler infants but I’d guess this one to be somewhere in the 4 to 6 month range from the brief glance I had. The carriage was nice and new, and there was something about the couple that said the child was in good hands. I just couldn’t get the floppy jeans and laces out of my mind.

This is what it was: the heads. Their faces were animated, aware and clear. Both had longish but quite well cared-for hair. The heads were those of responsible and, though young, rapidly maturing adults who were reluctant to let go of some of the comfortable and familiar trappings of adolescence, so close on their heels.

I had to smile. It’s been so long. I usually carried the baby and she carried the accessory bag. I can smell the baby’s head even now. Oh well. I think back then I used to roll my pant legs up a notch or two. It was comforting and familiar.

It seems like yesterday. How trite and true.

It is getting late in the season for such pontoon boat rides into the sunset.  This one was probably the last of the year.  Things are changing and people are moving on with their lives.  This kind of beauty is often captured by the brush artist and the accidental photographer, but simply seeing it in the raw is – has to be – one of life’s true gifts.  Too often we forget or let slide into dark corners of our consciousness the glimpses of natural wonder that are always there for us to enjoy.  The field awash in the gold of dandelion bloom.  The orchard heavy with ripened fruit.  The morning shrouded in fog and mystery.  The many versions of the lowly Black-eyed Susan enduring to the bitter end of the season.  And, of course, the gift of a matchless sunset shared with friends.

Waiting for something to happen in a hospital, or doctor’s office for that matter, seems to be woven into the fabric of our lives. Wake up and live and sooner or later you will find yourself waiting for some service for yourself or, as it is today, for someone I have brought to the hospital. In this case it is a 90 year old woman who, when it comes to this kind of situation, has the patience of a flea. The waiting alone is tiring for her. It’s tiring for me. I’m on her side.

As a small distraction, there is usually a trivia question (and answer) provided for the entertainment of those sentenced to wait. Is it just me, or is there a touch of irony in the juxtaposition of the red sigh and the hand lettered question? I, of course, missed the question, obviously thinking more time was spent waiting in doctor’s offices, but the correct answer was “Talking on the phone”. I believe some independent research is called for in the matter.
Don’t you think some wall paper would be nice? A plant? Thank God there was no TV.

I know this guy doesn’t look like it, but he is a happy man. He just finished stacking the last of next winter’s wood. It’s a shame it’s only 1:30 – much too early for a celebratory cocktail.

Sent from my iPhone

The following line was part of a joke that recently came to me. It isn’t the first time this, and similar pieces have come to me in recent months. I have been quiet about how offensive such things are to me but I grow tired of liberal silence over such excesses while the right wing floods us with it’s prepackaged propaganda everywhere you turn. Here is a line that appeared in the “joke”.

 “Ted Kennedy is a fat, good-for-nothing, left wing liberal drunk who doesn’t know how to drive”

 I grow tired of the constant right wing harping on the excesses and failures of this man who was arguably one of the most significant political figures of our time. We are all turned off by some of his failures but I am turned on by what he has accomplished. Little is ever said by the right wing about Kennedy’s accomplishments. No politician in recent history has done as much to make congress work as Ted Kennedy. When I am regularly reminded of the ancient Chappaquiddick incident, I have to wonder if any of these people know how long ago that was? It was a disaster. Kennedy, however, went on beyond that (something not many could have accomplished) to become a truly great man. There are few if any great men or women who do not have regrettable pages in their pasts. That these people became notable is a testimony to character that is rare in public life.

 The man just died. Dragging up every detail of his failures to the exclusion of his successes is a lying and deceitful tactic. If you don’t agree with liberal policies, and many do not, then talk about alternatives and show how they will work. Drawing caricatures and then making fun of them as though they represent anything real is dishonest and brings nothing to the table that might somehow produce something good for the people of this country.

 Don’t say it was just a joke. It happens all too often to be just a joke. It offends me. It should offend you. I want to believe that at some level, it does.

 I’m Jerry Henderson