Secreting poems into unsuspecting places returns me to being an 8 year-old, when I was certain I'd marry actor Danny Kaye one day. Actually, this was a fight between my sister Nancy and I-- which of us would marry Danny. We also fought over who would marry dad, but my mom made it clear she wouldn't share.
Danny Kaye had this magical quality in "Hans Christian Anderson" that convinced me my role in life was to bring that kind of joy to the world. I knew early in life I was a storyteller and wanted to sing it from the rooftops. How I dreamed of being that kid in drama class who'd fling themselves center stage to belt out a solo and bring tears and laughter to an audience.
Alas, I'm not that girl. Making poems for an audience of one to four people from behind a typewriter is as close to a public performance as I've gotten. But deep inside, I want the whole world to hear my song. So I tuck these little card poems in trees and fences around our island and hope I delight someone.
As a kid I attended many Alcoholics Anonymous meetings with my mom and remember one pamphlet about doing secret good. I wish I could remember the actual title. What I do remember is the point was not to be caught so that you were doing a sweetness with no expectations. I suppose I'm not really doing that here since I'm telling you.
Wanderlust seizes me strongest in spring, so I put a poem of that title at the airport. Our island is so small you can walk right beside the runway and listen to jets arrive and depart. One time I was leaving for the Mainland and during the acceleration of take-off I looked out the window to discover my husband speeding along the frontage road to race the plane in his red pick-up truck. I was waving like a crazy woman through the tiny window pane with my seatmates a bit concerned for my sanity.
The other poem is beneath Ironwood bark on my favorite beach where our short story book club meets and it's also where I walk my three dogs regularly.
Thanks again for listening to my happy wanderings. I wish you a surprise; one that is totally unexpected and most importantly, deserved.
That's what her editor told her, "Put a dog in it," to reach a broader demographic and increase book sales. It was a memoir on South American shamanism and a furred friend would make the book more marketable.
But that's not why dogs are in this blog. In fact, I consider and reconsider including them because I fret over exposing my deeply embedded dependence.
'Island living turned out to be lonelier than I'd ever dreamed.'
It never occurred to me that in the literal isolation of being surrounded by water there'd be little sense of belonging culturally and no community to lean into. As it turns out, dogs are my answer to every loneliness. When we moved to Kauai in 2001 our two dogs came with us. That was six dogs ago now.
My origin story includes three sisters, a brother and an additional five foster kids under one roof, so any derivative of the word "lone" was not in my vocabulary. I never experienced alone, lonely or loner.
There were two bathrooms in our Southern California suburban home, and one of them off-limits to teenagers. At any time in our shared bathroom there'd be a sister in the shower, one on the toilet and two of us wiping steam from the mirror as we applied mascara or brushed our teeth.
Add to that: rats, cats, dogs, rabbits and a king snake.
Part of the Woolway family dynamic always included two dogs. There was the border collie Toot Toot, so named for her love of water. There was the first Flip, a boxer my father tucked into his peacoat pocket and presented to his bride after returning home from the New Port War College where he taught. My mom said she "flipped" when she saw the puppy. There's been a Schitzo, Girl 1 and Girl 2; Chris, Skeeta, Sally, Tracy, and the one token male, Fellah, who my grandpa had euthanized the September he and Nana came from Halifax while Mom was in rehab and Dad in Vietnam.
Leave it to say, there is much to share on the dog front. I had to begin somewhere. Ours is a family of wanderers with nearly no connection to our ancestors. In Hawaii there is pride in chanting your lineage; the only lineage I can chant is our animals. I think I'll save that for a future post.
Thanks again for listening to my happy wanderings.