May I?

May I tell you how beautiful is the silence of this night? How grateful I am to be in a place of peace? Oh, so many are not, for causes huge and causes incomprehensible.

I would like to take you on a delightful small journey I get to make numerous times each year for the past, I think, five years, now. For six weeks, spanning parts of May and June I go, usually by bicycle, usually in the morning, although sometimes late in the afternoon, to count how many herrings course a fish ladder in the Concord River. I do this for 10 minutes of an hour. Sometimes I do one stint in a day, sometimes, like Saturday past, I do three consecutive stints, 10 minutes per hour. Today it was two consecutive watches. It is peaceful. It is noisy with water rushing and falling, redwing blackbirds calling and grackles grackling and song sparrows and warblers of all colors and voices and robins and cardinals and finches all singing and talking and whispering, phoebes shouting, and breezes shushing through the tops of cottonwoods, aspens, silver maples, ashes, white oaks, lindens, tulip poplars rippling their new and vibrantly green late spring leaves. And it is pure pleasure.

To reach this spot I bicycle a route that climbs and descends four hills. I am proud to say I do not huff and I do not puff, just pedal steadily up one asphalt ascent and whistle down its other side, and another, and another and a fourth, mindful of grit and glass (causing, respectively, slips and slits). And cresting that fourth hill, surrounded by concrete and asphalt passageways, and brick, concrete, steel, and sawn and planed lumber structures, I imagine this hilltop down from which I will fly to the riverbank, as it once was, river water alternately resting and rushing by the foot of this hill, that holds, as I imagine it, hundreds of centuries-old trees–red and black and white oaks, red, sugar, striped and silver maples, white and green ashes, towering tulip poplars, towering aspens, towering cottonwoods, taut and touchable beeches, locusts, elms, quivering willows, and swaying birches, pines and firs and spruces nudging in where windsweep has conquered aged hardwoods. Underbrush of past years’ leaves and berry bushes and shrubs tangling with tree roots and the myriad small mammals who scurry through, and wrangling with larger mammals who skirt them or lumber among them, who rest beneath their arbors in the heat of day in the depth of night. Rich earth formed with the help of thousands maybe millions of insects and tiny creatures whose life work is to compost the largess of the land. And through and under all this the mycellum (sp?) the fungi who support and are supported by these wonders.

I imagine and I wish.

Life is precious. Life is short. Life can be so beautiful.

life ebbing, giving life
a newly venturing baby rabbit
Close to the rocks can you see the newly venturing young snapping turtle?
This insect sat beside me at the side of the fish ladder. I don’t know what it is. I will try to discover.

And then I return home, each time, to my pals, Maria and Stella. Even in loss there is light.


This is my promise in affliction, your promise that gives me life.
Psalm 119:50

Author: Kate Hemenway

I like to explore, to observe. I like to be within what is around. There is always something to wonder about and to ponder. There is always something.. My favorite ways to get to places are bicycling and walking; or reading, or thinking, or asking. Please feel free to ask back, as I continue to wonder out loud, express joy or concern, or, sometimes, talk through my hat.

3 thoughts on “May I?”

  1. Hi Kate!! I just loved reading your post and please forgive me for being absent in my communication for so long. I’ve stayed away from Facebook and I went back to school to get certified as a teacher. I just graduated a week ago. I have also been teaching first grade in a Catholic school this whole year and I love it. We are doing great and live outside of Atlanta. Me, my husband, and Zachary. How are you?? I am getting ready for work now but it is our last week and I will have more time to write next week! You’ve never left my prayers dear friend.

    Love, Kelly

    Sent from my iPhone



    1. Hi Kelly, How about this for a delayed response? I am just discovering your note here, and others. I have not learned wordpress software very well. May your teaching year upcoming be a dream.


  2. Kate, this is a lovely meditation. And especially so as I know the backstory.

    Nature brings comfort. Thanks be to God.



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