Monday, January 09, 2017

ALONG THE ROAD POEMS...

Cemetery on Sam Hill in Worthington, Massachusetts
For many years, I have written "Along the Road..." poems.  They fit my belief of life being a journey and how we make our own paths by walking, traveling, moving along roads, unexpected or well-worn, throughout our earthly days. 

This past year I lost my way.  For many reasons the road disappeared.  I wandered, wondered and only now edge back to the page to find the words that ground me. 

Along the road in twenty-sixteen,
I somehow lost my way.
Lost my writing, lost my time,
lost my lovely wayward moments.

I wandered through snowy mountains,
 mud and soft Caribbean sands.
Snapped and trapped in the corporate gulag,
one cold Hell and back again.

Write that I lost my father,
thin like leather, gasping for breath
in the downstairs room on Trouble Street
 where breezes carried him birdsong
and the sent of early summer flowers.


In that dry year of twenty-something,
all the bad times re-exploded.
Tell how I lost my temper, flawed
goodwill and old illusions.

Say I still taste the sorrow, 
droning on harsh winter winds.
The soldier sheltering his trauma,
the girl on-guard, alert to fear.

One war ends in wounded peace,
where the grass is ever-greener, 
along the writing road, 
lost in dreams and should-have-beens, 
thick with gifts and demons.




Sunday, August 21, 2016

BLESSED BE THE PEACE MAKERS

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
Click on the Picture to See...
"THE BELOVED COMMUNITY IS THE FRAMEWORK FOR THE FUTURE."

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Looking for Root Causes


Spring Valley High School
           October 2015
Unsafe in my school
Unsafe at home.  Rage dogs me,
drags me by the hair
targets me, the throw-away kid.
Someone.  Somewhere.  Hear my story.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

NEW HAMPSHIRE IN OCTOBER

IN THE WHITE MOUNTAINS

White pine in granite
anchored by tenacious roots
straight trunk, weathered bark
limbs outstretched in feathered green
surveys the cascades below.

Monday, October 12, 2015

LUNAR ECLIPSE: SEPTEMBER 27, 2015


MIDNIGHT MOON

Adrift on the third 
rock from the sun, we watch
light play the russet
marble suspended in black,
blessed with one luminous edge.


Friday, May 22, 2015

AFTER NEPAL, NOTHING IN LIFE IS THE SAME


The Himalayas from Nagarkot
In March 2015, we traveled with our friends and students from the University of Rhode Island to take part in the Kingian Nonviolence and Conflict Reconciliation Orientation and Core Training in Nagarkot, Nepal.  

We were introduced to the nonviolence philosophy and education of Martin Luther King, Jr. with students, lawyers, educators, social workers, NGO staff, and military officers from Nepal and other countries in Southasia.

After the training, we joined the URI students on a cultural tour of Nepal and then spent time on our own, exploring Kathmandu and the countryside.

As we learned, nothing in life is the same after Nepal. 
Boudhnath Stupa - Kathmandu
On the way to Bhaktapur
The Peacock Paper Factory - Bhaktapur
Namo Buddha - Edge of the Kathmandu Valley

Boys of the LRI School sing "Imagine" by John Lennon.
Chitwan -- On the Border with India
Guardians of the Road
Thamel
Three weeks after we returned home, on Saturday April 25, Nepal was hit with a 7.8 earthquake.  The country has been devastated with loss of life, loss of entire villages, homes and workplaces destroyed, cultural and historical sites gone.
 Swayambhunath is now rubble.
Bhaktapur -- a medieval city is a pile of bricks

People we met now live in tents -- no jobs and no homes going into the monsoon season. 

On the way to Paulines Guesthouse -- all buildings destroyed
Paulines Guesthouse has collapsed.
I find myself caught between tragedy and sorrow, and the utter grace of our trip and its timing.   

It's my koan, a paradox for meditation.  Abandon logical reasoning, the Zen master might say to me.  What happens, then?

A NEPAL COMPASS ROSE


Chhetrapati Chowk

Five dirt roads converge
like five spokes of a great wheel
steer me to Thamel,
Mithro, the booksellers street,
Swayambhnath and Home.





Friday, April 17, 2015

WHAT THE BUDDHISTS TEACH


Cupped hands hold water
a small bowl of memories
cool splash on my face
prayer flags snap and eagles cry
while dreams slip through my cradled fingers.



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

NAGARKOT


The old Newari man
taps gently at our door
he pours steaming water
from his iron-colored pail
warms the cold night with his smile.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

THE TIME TO DIE

...When he was young and handsome...

We buried Stella in the field today, under a foot of soil and two feet of snow.  True to our New Hampshire farm, we hit a sizable rock while digging which became his headstone.  He's nestled into a spot near a small grove of trees, where the grass grows tall in summer. Jessup is buried nearby.

Stella the Fella was 15 years old and failing.  We had dragged our feet but finally made an appointment with the vet to put him down. Tuesday morning. We worried about the car trip.  He hated to ride.  We knew the strange place and smells would terrorize him.  We didn't want his life to end that way.

He must have sensed something.  Stella liked his house, his wood stove, his food dish, and his perch on the top of the couch.  He purred like a lion and threw himself on the floor when he was happy to see you.  Hence, he earned the knickname, "Thud".

In his glory days, he retrieved pipe cleaners and burrowed under the scatter rugs.  He chased his sister and got into all kinds of cat trouble.  When our friend took care of him, Stella left her gifts at the door -- a mouse or its parts.  A sponge to clean up water.  Toys.  Balls.  It was uncanny.

Sunday night, four of us went to bed.  Stella was first.  He chose his usual cozy "hole" in the comforter. Throughout the night, I could feel him stretched out at my feet.

On Monday morning, three of us awoke.  Stella had died during the night, quietly and peacefully, near those who loved him.  He had been warm and snuggled into the quilt.  No mess.  No fuss.  Just a simple passing when it was time for him to go.

We cancelled the vet's appointment.  We washed his dishes and blankets.  We sat and reminisced, laughed and sighed.  We miss him --- this old cat who had the grace and good sense to die at home.




Sunday, February 08, 2015

RED SKY AT NIGHT...

sailors' delight...

The writing I really want to do is a gossamer thing there on my desk, a bit to the left, just beyond reach, just out of my vision -- not at the center but somewhere.  Over there.

My old friend the Critic tells me it’s more about discipline and priorities and “if not now, when”.  But these words send me into hiding where I think too much and wonder too much about what it is I want to say on the page, squarely in view, in the here and now. 

The path writing takes buries itself in journals, emails, project overviews and workshop syllabi.  I write informative pieces, short poems, newsletters, art show posters and blog posts.  I’m even writing paragraphs in Spanish as part of my Thursday night classes.

All good.  All fun.  But still, not from the center.

Another, perhaps deeper and more thoughtful voice reminds me:  “Writing is a way of thinking” and “All writing is still writing”.  So, I shift and let the light play on process and the big picture.  I mess about and love the surprises that come, unexpected and bold.

Inch by inch, a space opens where I can live again with writing as a beginner, a veteran and as one who forever traverses the perilous and mysterious stages in between.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

THOUGHTS FOR FATHER'S DAY


1954 ~ Otis Reservoir

There's so much more to every story, every memory, every life.  Our stories slip in and out of time and place and fantasy.  I wonder here what is unspoken and unseen.  What sweeps around these two, my brother and me.  

My Grandfather, surprisingly fit, with his cigar and his boat... while we, the "little family" cluster together.
It was another time, so long ago.  I'm seven and my brother, not yet two.  Yet, when I  see these pictures, I smell flat water and a faint whiff of gasoline.  I feel the excitement riding in the boat and remember the deep sheen of mahogany, the splash of water and the wind in our faces.

From then to now, sixty years have passed.  The good, the bad, the tragic.  Some years were rich and full, some long and dark and cold.  

But I'm learning how, in the end, it's never one nor the other.  Nothing's all black, nor all fine and shiny -- it's the mix, the big stew of Life --  the good, the bad, the dull.  And for all the pain, there is also joy, small bright spots of light.  

And, for all I know (or think I know), there is still my unfinished story, full of mysteries and things to come, unseen, unknown, unspoken.




Saturday, April 19, 2014

Gods of Greed, Gods of Gold: Some new, Some old.


Photograph by Barry Draper
Lima, Peru   
2005


Lust for gold, dreaming,
scheming tales of wealth and coin
lure conquistadores west,
beneath the blood-red sun.

Theirs by sword, theirs by might. 
Theirs by right and miter.  
Lusting after golden gods, 
gilt beyond the blood-red sun, 
now -- and forever.

Monday, March 10, 2014

WHEN I FEEL MOST ALIVE!

  Santa Elena Canopy Skywalk
First Time in Costa Rica
October 1997
There's been a significant gap in this blog -- for many reasons.  I could say it was the snow and ice, or the below zero temperatures.  January and February brought family concerns, a death, and medical issues.  We found damage from mice and squirrels in the upstairs closet where I keep lovely reminders of our travels, our shared history.

Too, I've been mourning the loss of people I've long admired.  Pete Seeger.  Doris Lessing.  Nelson Mandala.  Dede, the last of the Mirabel sisters from the Dominican Republic.  I wonder how shall we survive in this world without them as living models of conscience and right.

From here it's an easy slide into depression.  All I need is a dose of the world news or the daily flood of email appeals to bury me.  I lose heart.  I lose hope.  I stop writing.

Then, something happens.  Three deer wander through our field.  I catch sight of stars and a sliver of a crescent moon in the hard winter sky.  Good news creeps in and surprises me. Spring comes.  I open the door.  I go back to the page full of wonder and gratitude.

In one of my writing groups, we wrote to the question: "When do I feel most alive?"  I love this question -- it's my antidote to despair -- and I want to go deeply into what makes me feel "alive" and "whole" now, in this stage of my life.

So I start with the memory of walking the rainforest canopy in Santa Elena, Costa Rica, where howler monkeys called and hummingbirds darted through flowers at treetop level.  The suspension bridge shifted and swayed with our movements, but I wasn't afraid.  It rained a bit and stopped.   The mist swirled to the top of the cloud forest and beyond.  The air was rich with spicy smells, flower fragrances, and wet dirt.  And, I was very much alive.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

BURN AWAY THE OLD ~ WELCOME THE NEW


                            Along the road of old December
                            when the Ancients walk abroad,
                            I fall in with their company, twelve
                            days and nights astride.

                            Druid, Priestess, Pagan, Fool,
                            Astrologer monk and Hermit king,
                            they who track the star and tide,
                            older, wiser folk than I.

                            We march under darkened skies,
                            a host, a band, a multitude. Claw,
                            hoof, foot and wing, together 
                            journey towards light and spring.
                                        
                            West to east, the Ancients mark
                            the worn, the dying, bygone year.
                            Along the road, the fires burning,
                            turning old and the cold -- to ash.

                                   Welcome!  New Year!  
                                                 
                                        
  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Caring for the Dead: Thoughts on Veterans Day 2013


On the Crown Square in the midst of Edinburgh Castle, I watched an old woman in a tweedy coat and sensible shoes lead a young, freshly-combed boy into the Hall of Honour at the Scottish National War Memorial, an old barracks reshaped into a hallowed place for records and remembrance at the end of the Great War, World War I.
 
The woman and boy had walked through the Gatehouse and up the steep path.  I held a ticket for admission into the castle; but for them there was no monetary fee for entry into the War Memorial.  They moved through the quietness and soft light of stained glass windows. They paused before the great steel Casket in the Shrine room.  They turned as one and trod a familiar way through the Gothic arch to the western hall.  There, among the bays of memorials dedicated to different regiments of the Service, the two stopped. 

Thick red leather-bound books awaited them on low shelves that spanned the stone walls of the room.  The woman reached out a practiced hand and opened one tome to the lone page I expect she has come to know intimately for forty, fifty, sixty years.  With one finger she traced a beloved name, “fairly written”, as the founders of this Memorial decreed, with name, rank, company, dates of birth and death, and place where a brother, father, husband, uncle, fiancĂ©, or lover died. 
           
She spoke with the boy who was studying the bronze plaques on the walls.  Their deed completed, she closed the book gently, took the boy’s hand in hers and left that splendid building created to honor and remember 150,000 Scottish soldiers who died in the War-to-End-All-Wars. 

Now, there are more than 150,000 names.  So many more have been added to the Rolls of Honour throughout the Second World War, Korea, Falkland Islands, Iraq, Afghanistan.  As long as there are soldiers to war and scribes to record, the great books will grow in number, filled with “fairly written” names, dates, and places of death.

July 1, 1916  was the first day of the Battle of the Somme.  In 2006, the ninetieth anniversary was commemorated with dignitaries, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall and French schoolgirls who scattered red poppy blossoms.  

Members of the military blew whistles and reenacted battle scenes.  Grandsons, great-grandsons, and nephews marched in the footsteps of men gone before them, following trails left in letters, diaries and oral histories.

I thought of the old woman and the boy as I listened to the ceremonies on the radio.  Memories of the Hall of Honour and those thick red leather books filled with fine writing haunted me.  

There were no living veterans of the battle on the Somme River for the anniversary.  No soldiers to relive the hell that began in July 1916.  No warriors to bemoan the battle fought relentlessly until the mud and rain of November forced a halt. 

At the end of it all, the United Kingdom and French Allies had advanced a total of eight miles during the Battle of the Somme.  With a million men dead, the bodies might have stretched from Paris to Berlin to London and back again, never mind how they could form in mountains over that hard-won, eight-mile strip of no man’s land. 

America entered World War I, finally.  One of my grandfathers enlisted on June 3, 1917.  He was a farmer from Tolland, Massachusetts.  He was sent as a soldier to the trenches of France.  He never spoke of his experiences.  

He owned a grocery store. I remember him, a big man dressed in white and covered by a blood and fat-smeared apron.  His passion was the Maine woods where he hunted and fished with a close band of solemn, silent men.  

When my grandfather died, these same men, then bent and frail with age, carried his ashes by canoe and backpack to their hunting lodge.  They buried him there by a big rock at the water’s edge, far from the battlefields of his life. 


Once I read how people grasp things far beyond what is healthy and/ or necessary out of a fear of regret.  We regret our decisions, our choices, speech or inaction.  We fear a shortage of forgiveness.  

Yet, I wonder what could happen if there were no regrets?  What if we all decided not to send young people to war or old people into obscurity?  

What if caring for the Living were as natural and as valued a human trait as is our devotion to the dead.  
No guilt.  No regrets.
What if.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Snake River on a September Afternoon


Gratitude is my new practice.

The sky is clear, the air fresh, and fall colors creep in, first in the marshy areas and later the hills.  This beauty stops me, grabs my soul and says, "Appreciate the little things, the big beautiful things, the ordinary and extraordinary moments of life."

My new practice comes in part from a deep need for perspective in this fast-paced, divisive world where I live, uneasy and worried.  Part springs from questions I have about humanity, mortality, and loss. Since August, four people we knew and cared about have died:

-a singer-pianist-musician-philosopher whose talent sparkled, 
-a woman passionate about quality education, art and music, 
-an artist who was also a diver and a lover of animals, 
-and one very feisty, funny woman, our colleague in the local schools for many, many years... her children... her husband... her fierce love of family and the right stuff for kids. 

Many others have died, too, at this same time.  They were all important people, unique and loved. Many lived long, productive lives well into their 80's and 90's.  

But, the four I knew were our age, all in their sixties.  

I read wonderful and surprising things about each in the obituaries. They had traveled and studied and done volunteer work when they were young.  One was a Quaker and another had turned to meditation at mid-life.  One was a peace worker and all had grown children and extended families and friends grieving for them.

I think of these four often.  My memories of them seem more real than their absences.  I wonder at the loss, these human lives now gone.   I miss them.  I wonder about those of us left.  I wonder about my own mortality. 

Such questions bring me beyond and yet back to beauty and gratitude and small, little things of everyday life.  

Morning coffee.  A walk to the mailbox.  A smile and wave to people I see on the road.  Cooking supper.  Still being able to touch my toes. Drinking in a fall afternoon in all its glory.  Telling someone how much they mean to me.  

Little things make me very grateful these days.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Survival in the Time of the Fools


This poster appeared on my Facebook page -- maybe from Upworthy or Give a Shit About Nature -- I'm sorry, I don't remember the source.

But I do remember the impact it made on me.  "Just go."  Stop being careful and cautious.  Stop waiting for just-the-right-moment.  Just go and embrace whatever you find.

"Go see all the beauty in the world".  Yes!  There is beauty.  Hope.  Strength.  So much beauty to celebrate and take in with a grateful heart.

I need to keep this sentiment close by these days.  It is my survival in this time of fools and charlatans.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ethical Energy: No Nukes 1989 - 2013

1989  
Clamshell Alliance against the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant 

We marched along the roadside in tiny Seabrook, New Hampshire to protest the construction of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant. Some people climbed fences and committed civil disobedience.  Some were arrested.  Some of us posted bail.  We went home to engage our neighbors, our politicians, the state regulatory boards.  Then we headed back to the streets.

It was but one moment among the many shared by people around the world who knew nuclear power was dangerous and risky.  The consequences of a nuclear accident should have stopped this technology in its infancy.  But, of course, it did not.  

Earlier this week, I was brought back to this fight over ethical and safe energy when Entergy Corporation announced it will decommission the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vernon, Vermont.  By the end of 2014, the Vernon, Vermont station, one America's oldest and "most controversial" nuclear plants, will stop due to financial reasons.

Vermont Yankee has been the target of protests from day one.  Over the past several years, there have been a series of radioactive tritium leaks into the ground and water at the Vernon plant.  "No risk to the public", they said, and I wonder who dares believe such lies.

Corporations like this have no legitimacy, no credibility.  They are tarred by Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island, as well as the thousands of "incidents" we the public have never heard of.

Consider this:  In 1989, we did not have a solution to the radioactive waste produced by nuclear power plants.  Now, 24 years later, we still have NO SOLUTION and NO PLACE to put things like spent fuel rods.

So, I gain only a measure of satisfaction from closing Vermont Yankee.  I am more disgusted and concerned that radioactive materials and residues will continue to poison that site in southern Vermont.

I'm disgusted these decisions are based on money (and shareholders) instead of what's "safe" or "right" or "ethical".

I wonder why people go nuts when one person catches West Nile virus from mosquitos, but overlook the specter of radiation leaks from aging nuclear plants and ineffective storage/containment practices.

Do you live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant?  I bet you do.

Entergy helps me be more hopeful that this financial disease will spread and we'll read about a decision to decommission the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant in New Hampshire sometime soon.

No matter what, I'll keep advocating for ethical energy resources -- resources that do not deplete and poison the earth nor kill or maim life in any form.  

We've tried the other way -- big, exclusive, greedy, dirty and destructive -- and we've reaped a big, dirty, greedy and destructive system.

It's time to think very, very differently.  More humane.  Sustainable.  Think about affordable, local energy sources.  Think equity.  Work with natural cycles, not in spite of them.  Think "big picture" and "long term".
A saying from past years:
"Humans aren't the only species on the planet; they just act like it."  

How about?
"Humans aren't the only species on the planet -- to go extinct."


Author's Note:  I dedicate this last saying to the Climate Change Deniers, the current Congress, palm oil and soybean mono-plantations in Borneo, Brazil, and in rainforests around the world.   Giant oil and mining corporations, agribusiness, Monsanto gets a special rating. Gold mining with mercury in the Madre de Dios River (Peru), members of the illegal animal trade throughout the world, people who run modern slave markets, sweat shops, racists and bigots... perpetrators, dictators, despots + misogynists... and finally to those good, quiet folk who sit in silence and say nothing, not even when they know what they see is wrong.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Summer Wanes

... and we are once again on the East Inlet...


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Buddha in the Garden

I've been doing yoga once a week for about seven months, now.  My initial intention was to help my (physical) balance and strengthen those core muscles.  When I started, I could barely stand on one foot or even march in place.  How did this happen?  I, who was once a runner and more recently, a walker ~ how did I become this middle-aged woman who wobbled and scrambled to lean on the wall?

Throughout the fall and into winter, I reached for the sky and "walked the dog".  I found my strength in poses like  Bridge and Plank where I anchored myself with more than just my two feet.  I missed days due to ice and snowfall, trips and vacations.  There was short-term work like the Open (Writing) Institute in Newfound and days in schools sharing writing.

Now mid-July, I'm back on the mat.  More flexible.  Aware.  Comfortable in my skin.  I breathe the 3-part Yogic Breath and gently the world falls away.  I stretch and reach, bend and fold.  I think my way into Warrior 2.  On each in-breath, I reach further, move my hands in micro-bits, feel my way to my toes.

Sitting in silent meditation, I sense the summer green and heat.  Leaves and flowers brush my body.  Birds sing in the trees nearby.  Like Buddha in the garden, balance settles from the inside, out.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

A Love of Diversity and Cultures

Cold, rainy day ~ we followed directions to the Mariposa Museum from a postcard I picked up somewhere, sometime, years ago.

We drove back roads through Franklin, Salisbury, Webster.   We tried to remember names of people we once knew. Gerry somebody from the Launch program at SYC.  In Webster, we saw the elementary school where Cat taught Kindergarten and where  Barry played pennywhistle and sang "Flop-eared Mule" with her class.

When we reached Hillsborough, we were in known territory.  Down Route 202 through Antrim and Bennington, we continued on into Peterborough.  There was the middle school where we were Title I tutors in 1973.  The Serendipity Shop, still in business, was the place we sold odd bits of our furnishings, a lamp, and unused wedding gifts.

The bridge to Main Street led us into a timeless space where we discovered familiar landmarks and the magical Mariposa Museum, an apparition of beauty and diversity.  

Puppets.  Drums.  Gongs.  Clothing and jewelry.  Artifacts from around the world.  
Books.  Maps.  Games.   Textiles.

The museum is a collection, a celebration, a prayer for Peace, the Earth and its Peoples and Creatures.  

My dreams and beliefs,
my love and delights 
made visible 

Stories and legends, 
antiquities of a shared 
humanity

These are my riches, 
my treasures 
beyond measure

On a cold and rainy 
June afternoon 
at the Mariposa.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

WHAT KEEPS ME WRITING?

This blog entry comes from a course I'm taking right now through the New Hampshire Writers Project.  Mary Carroll Moore teaches about the structure of books:  "How to Plan, Write and Develop a Book"

She's just the right teacher with just the right content at just the right time for me. Her latest assignment:  Design your book cover.

She got me thinking as well:  What keeps me writing!

READERS

1.  Writing groups and supportive friends ~ 
generous, witty, intelligence.

2.  Making time for me and writing.

3.  My wonderful "field office" ~ the writing shed.

4.  Reading ~ A lifetime of reading.
Love of the Story!

5.  Barry.

TRAVEL

6.  I love this big, big world ~ with all its contradictions.

7.  Children.  Young people.  Anyone under 25 
(maybe 30).

8.  My love of the natural world ~ wilderness.  

9.  My beliefs in social justice for all.
No exceptions.
 LEARNING

10.  Writing with others ~ anywhere, any age and in any language.

11.  Teachers and programs from elementary school to now.
Sometimes the teacher, always the student.

12. Curiosity.  
Endless, boundless, fearless curiosity.

So, what do you think?  Favorite cover?  Not yet?  Stay tuned for more. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Part One: The Beach

Playita Beach in Las Galeras,
Dominican Republic
It's been a dismal few months here in New Hampshire weather-wise.  Even today is cold, grey and windy.  But, as my friends are quick to remind me whenever I start to complain, I have just returned from two and a half weeks in the Dominican Republic.   Sunshine.  Heat.  Beaches.  A small fishing village.  French cuisine and Dominican spices.  Cold Presidente beer and coconut ice cream -- just not consumed at the same time.

Simple Elegance in our room at Sol Azul
The first part of the trip was the beach, a bit of heaven in March for two New Englanders.  We stayed once again in the small village of Las Galeras, at the very tip of the Samana Peninsula.  

We met friendly, interesting people from all over Europe--Germany, Finland, France, Italy -- and we talked about the things we all care about deeply.  Education.  The environment. Traveling.  How to balance jobs and what we really love to do.  And, I always marvel at how much we humans share in common... once we stop and listen.


In town and on the beach, we spoke our "Tarzan" Spanish with lots of gestures and laughs.  The local folks, mostly Dominicans and Haitians, work in the restaurants and drive the motobike taxis.  They navigate the boats on every beach.  They cook wonderful wood-fired pizza and grill fish wrapped in banana leaves.

Barry's love of the birds and plants created connections on every corner.  He asked the names of fruits and critters from the people who lived and farmed beyond the main street.  He shared his bird photos and learned even more.  He was interested in the crops and wondered why no one composts (spiders, snakes and millipedes, so he was told).

So we read and went swimming.  We snorkeled with a Japanese man who has spent years preserving local coral reefs and the fish species within the reef.  We watched small silvery schools of minnows and trumpet fish slide in and out of the seagrass.  

He showed us puffer fish, jacks, a host of surgeon majors, and one deadly lion fish.  We saw different kinds of coral in his protected place -- more than anywhere else on the peninsula.  It's clearly his love, his passion, his livelihood.

Mother Teresa said, "Peace begins with a smile."  
I think communication and connection starts the same way.
That's how it was for us these past few weeks.