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Hanni and I met for coffee and pie at the Aesop’sTable Cafe in the front corner of the Toadstool bookstore. The café was crowded and I noticed a man sketching in a book at the next table. He held up the book when I caught his eye. There we were, in our plaid shirts and jeans, captured on his page. Off to one side of the bookstore is the used book section. It is well-organized and because Peterborough is full of artists, authors and vociferous readers, it is well-stocked.  I was working my way through the section of Donna Tartt’s novels. Though I loved The Goldfinch, I have not been able to consistently crack The Little Friend. I traveled backward, alphabetically along the shelf and found several copies of work by May Sarton.

Where have I been? How could I not have found my muse and mentor earlier in life? Perhaps I just wasn’t ready. Here was a writer who parallels my  style and current station in life. I unknowingly bought a copy of Journal of a Solitude.

My hospice client. Wait, let’s drop the pretense here. I will call him Gunther and his lovely wife Elise. These are not their real names but because I now spend 4 days a week with them it is time to give them identities.

Elise asked if I could pick up a shift from 3-8pm on Saturday. Gunther is weakening and as he is still a relatively large man, it now takes two of us to get him to a standing position. He tries to help but sheer weight of bone is more than any of us can lift alone. Weekends are the time they used to have alone as help is harder to find.

I arrived to find him exhausted at the table, finishing a late lunch. Elise helped me settle him in bed for a nap before dinner then retired upstairs to read. The rain beat against the windows as I stretched out on the couch with the baby monitor. I opened Journal of a Solitude and listened to Gunther’s raspy breathing as I slid into Sarton’s world in Nelson, NH. Nelson is one of the towns where I have searched for housing.

“Keep busy with survival. Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember nothing stays the same for long, not even pain. Let it out. Let all pass. Let it go.”  May Sarton

Over dinner, Elise was telling me of the new art books a friend in publishing gave her. She retrieved them toward the end of the meal as I was helping Gunther scrape up the last bits on his plate. His childhood during WWII made him the current world champion of the Clean Plate Club regardless of how tired he is. One of the tomes was a signed edition of Kevin Bubriski’s Nepal: 1975 -2011. This beautiful book of black and white photography came home with me that night.

I was in Nepal, Kathmandu specifically, in 1982. Bubriski’s photo journal skips over 1980 – 1984. The images, while not exactly caught in the same time, are haunting to me. I had stood in those same markets and squares. Many of his subjects mirrored images I took 34 years ago.

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Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

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Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH


Who could have imagined I would find such inspiration from words and pictures that have cropped up from the most unlikely of places in my life.

“To any writer who wants to keep a journal, be alive to everything, not just what you’re feeling, but also to you pets, to flowers, to what you’re reading.”   May Sarton

16 comments on “Words and Pictures

  1. Touring NH says:

    I swear, the world gets smaller every day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed Laura. You just have to look for the signs!!


  2. I just picked up a May Sarton book this past year. Inspiring, isn’t she?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amazing Susan. And to think she lived just a few towns over from me. How did I not hear of her before? She is the perfect muse for me at this point in life.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. pattyspathtohealing says:

    I love May Sarton. I read the Reckoning for a class in high school and later read it for a Death and Dyingclass in college.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Patty. I don’t know how I have not heard of her before. Will find the Reckoning for my next read.


  4. What a wonderful quote about being like a tree. So real. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Phil. She was an amazing wordsmith!


  5. Books; you’ve just got to love them. Or I do anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Allen. Can’t live without the real thing…as I pack up my house I am wondering why I keep adding to my collection!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Gunther and Elise and so blessed to have you in their lives, Martha. Your compassion shines through. And how amazing to happen upon the Nepal book. Your photos are beautiful. ~Terri

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Terri. I am constantly amazed at how the threads of life are woven into a larger fabric.


  7. Gina Goff says:

    Thank you for the May Sarton quote: “Keep busy with survival. Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember nothing stays the same for long, not even pain. Let it out. Let all pass. Let it go.” I’ll be sharing it later today with a friend who will, I think, be buoyed by the message.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Gina. I feel as if I have opened a letter from a friend every time I open her book. Glad her words can cheer others.


  8. Marie Keates says:

    Another author to add to my list. What a coincidence to find two such interesting things on the same day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I highly recommend her, haven’t read any of her poetry yet but her journals are good! Enjoy!!

      Liked by 1 person

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