Category Archives: cosmic

The Winds of Change: Something’s Coming, Something Good?

When I left Vermont for Massachusetts six years ago, it seemed that I’d relocated to a wicked windy state. The winds would positively howl at night in my Boston-adjacent neighborhood, a kinetic metal sculpture outside gonging like a buoy. 

But when I moved back to Vermont two years ago, I realized the entire northeast had in fact gotten windier. As has much of our country in the last 10 years. New England has something called a “jet streak” nearby, a part of the jet stream where winds are stronger, but the west has been getting clobbered, too. The whole planet has become mysteriously windier.

While of great benefit to wind farms, our newly windy climate has less favorable consequences in our area. In winter, power outages are terribly unfun when trees or limbs fall on power lines. In summer, people are fond of burning stuff outside, often unmonitored. With all of our old wooden structures in Vermont, and a recent trend to long weeks without rain, that’s just not a good idea. 

Then there’s sports. I was planning on working on my tennis serve this summer, but it’s hard to get any consistency going when 1.) your baseball cap is giving you lift like the Flying Nun, and 2.) you have to guess as you toss your ball high into the air for the serve: (a.) Will there be wind? (b.) How strong will it be? (c.) From which direction will it come? That goes for your lobs in tennis and, frankly, any ball of any kind coming at you or leaving you in any sport. The winds are not only gusting, they’re swirling. Is this affecting pitching? Batting? Basketball? It’s got to be affecting golf. Surely volleyball. Fake sports like pickleball and badminton must now be more like gambling than sports. 

Wait what? Did I just denigrate pickle ball? Yes, I did. Badminton never pretended to be a real sport; it knew its place as a charming folly in the wide world of athleticism: a dusty boxed set that lives in the attic for years at a time, trotted out gamely at family reunions, if and when the shuttlecock can be found and its rubber nub hasn’t crackled apart, rendering it useless. 

Really, bully for all who dig pickleball, but I gave it several tries and here’s my assessment: a noisy “sport” named after a dog, invented by restless wealthy people, with inscrutable scoring that takes so long to learn that players mostly announce the score in the interrogative, that feels like a fanciful game your little nephew makes up and keeps changing the rules on so that you can’t beat him. Mainly, it screws up my tennis courts, man, with distracting court tapings and heinous net-lowerings that pickleballers don’t bother to fix when they’re done. Tennis is a sensible and courteous game, for civilized people. Play tennis. Before a swirling windy vortex sucks your pickleball, more whiffle than ball, up into the heavens forever (“Hate mail can be addressed to”).

But I digress. Back to the wind. The “winds of change” is an expression signifying a sense that change is in the air. Has Dear Reader ever gotten this? At times I have felt that the wind did in fact portend change, or I at least interpreted it thusly and used it as a catalyst to make my own change. Some of us take unusual winds as a very real sign. And given current world events – and news channels relentlessly covering not only existing problems, but also imagined terrors that may never even come to pass – we can easily panic about what changes may be headed our way.

I’ve said it before, but it never gets old: catastrophizing about an unknown future and all forms of hand-wringing in general serve only to rattle us.  It does not serve us to fret over things out of our control. It’s up to us to rein in our worrying — including all who live alone and are unfortunately free to ruminate endlessly, sleeplessly, with no one to talk to or offer comfort. It’s up to each of us to do our best to remain grounded, not like a pickleball sailing off to Mars. It’s up to us to think pleasant thoughts for our selves, each other, and the planet. Otherwise, we won’t feel well, or safe, or loved. What good could come from that?

Truly, it’s entirely possible that what is coming is something very good indeed. Some bad things in the mix, no doubt, but maybe something major and lovely is en route. Consider interpreting the winds this way: that people who think or act upon others with harmful intent in this time and place might soon find themselves powerless, blown far, far away like so many cracked and useless shuttlecocks in strong winds. Then those of us who think and act with love will finally understand the power of love – our love, and that of the entire world. 

Okay, I’m not kidding, the wind is howling as we speak. All cosmic musings aside, this should be an interesting summer between tent pitching and anchoring umbrellas at beaches. Beware projectiles. Think positively. Good day.

Ann Aikens has published a darkly comical book of advice, A Young Woman’s Guide to Life: A Cautionary Tale, available in Vermont shops listed at, and on Amazon. She has written her Upper Valley Girl column since 1996.

Sometimes You Just Have to Try

In the middle of this…

I came across this:

Eentsy Teensy Spider.
Had he crawled up through the snow?
Fallen off someone’s pant leg?
He was barely moving in his peri-cryogenic state.

I didn’t know what to do, but it seemed a lonely way to die, freezing to death far from anything you know, on snow like a raw oyster on a platter. So I put him in a tissue and brought him a place where 3 wintry terrains met: snow, water, and MUD.

Of course, I may have merely presented him to a bird as a an unexpected snack, replete with napkin. But sometime you just have to try.

Hope you made it, Spidey!

Or at least felt loved on your way out.


Be Mine ~ Or at Least Be Someone to Somebody

IMG_3971 (1)

I have a plan this year for Valentine’s Day. You might like it. But first, the conventional stuff.

Again, it’s marital engagement season. One of them, anyway. I’m in the in-between years where my peers are married or done with all that, and my YPs aren’t old enough to get hitched, so other than working the weddings of strangers for pay (often hilarious), I have gone to no weddings in decades except for those on Gilmore Girls. Which I did feel that I attended, with my niece. We cried and cried.

As things progress somewhat towards post-pandemic on Earth, and the “wow factor” heads once again to new heights at parties, I’m super looking forward to over-the-top wedding Port-o-sans®, which reside now inside a sort of mobile home. (“Rosalyn, aren’t you coming back to the reception?” “Oh no, it’s much nicer in here, what with the little fireplace and sconces and chutneys and all…I’m just going to knit a few rows…”).

Yes, we’ve come a long way, baby, since the 1969 Woodstock Concert in terms of portable toilets. Though its famous Port-O-San cleaning man’s noble attitude towards his job, which probably cannot be found in modern tymes, made up for lack of fancy amenities in the concert’s potties. See him excerpted here from that classic documentary, Woodstock (1970).

When figuring out what year something happened, I find that because I didn’t bear children to do the reverse math by (“Hmm, Trevor was utero then and now is 23, so it was the year 2000…”), I sometimes use disasters as time delineators. “It was right before the Oklahoma City bombing; 9/11; Haitian earthquake; Indian Ocean Tsunami; BP Crisis; S&L scandal; Hurricanes Katrina (2005) or Sandy (2012) or the slew of 2017—Harvey, Irma and Maria (paper towels, anyone?); Cali mudslides and wildfires (which ones?!). This is a horrible way to track time, which I highly unrecommend. I recall a few Valentine’s Days that were disasters in and of themselves—for friends or myself. Surely we are not alone in this.

So here’s my Valentine’s plan this year: on that day, I’m just going to spread love and affection. Why does it have to be about romantic love?  My mother sent us “balentines” up until she died. A friend and I call each other “Val” because we decided to be each other’s, the year after our mens disappeared. Someone recently dropped off a great number of fleece hats at our church, with a note that said simply, “Use them.” Now that’s a valentine, a symbol of love, given freely. Thank you, kindly hat maker.

If I had a lot of time or coin I’d do something major on that day, but I’ll have to satisfy myself with small gestures. A door held open. Groceries carried. A wheelchair pushed. A phone call long overdue. It doesn’t have to be about Hallmark but if that’s what you want, no shame! Cute cards are all over, try Royal Towne Gifts—get one for your lonely neighbor or favorite librarian. An underpaid worker you see weekly. The mail carrier. Road crew.

I think our true Valentine this year will be the comet named C/2022 E3. Which I haven’t seen due to our seeming perpetual cloud cover. Hopefully, someone spotted the small asteroid 2023 BU as it whizzed by within 2,000 miles of South America last week, in one of the closest approaches ever recorded. Crazily, it was discovered by an amateur astronomer in Crimea, Gennadiy Borisov, who has discovered other comets plus asteroids from his very own observatory. I like this guy!

Your last, best chance to see Comet C/2022 E3 should be during the Grammy Awards on Sunday, February 5 when it will be close to star Capella, so bundle up and look up – instructions here. Binos required. That’s what bird watchers call binoculars. Show yourself, C/2022 E3! Be mine. Be ours.

Promise to Dear Reader: if I ever get married, I’m going to have the most exquisite Port-o-sans you’ve ever visited. There will be Baroque décor, stationary bicycles, palm readers, hovercraft, origami – and a petting zoo for the children. When someone at the reception says, “I’m going to see a man about a horse,” s/he won’t be kidding. You’re all invited. Good Valentine’s Day.

Ann Aikens

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