By J.M. Roddy

Mothers, makers, miracles

This article is part one of a two-part series on parenting and pursuing a creative vocation. Part two will appear next month, June 2017: Retreat. Being both a mother and a creative is a catch-22. Unless you are one of those rare and mythical creatures who can make a living from your creative work in…

Two dreams and a memory

You stood on the concourse, ready to depart with Diesels, red hoody, and me. But not me. She was awkward, overweight. “We’re going to Hawaii to think about this relationship,” you say, arm around this other version of myself as I stand on the curb, seeing you off. “Verdict upon return.” . Years later, I entered…

Migratory birds

Cape Porpoise, Maine, 2007. The first snow has come. But why, I wonder, do they always speak of snow as blanketing, as if comforting, warm? Underneath its smooth spread surface I can only imagine a seering cold. On Saturday the ducks hunted for their lunch in icy shallows, pecking algae through a film of ice, advancing spectre.…

Arrows into darkness

It was the mid-eighties. I went to an urban elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee. My best friend Sunny had apple round cheeks and wooly pigtails tied off with bright double-ball elastics. I, with butt-length hair and bell-bottoms, was the unwitting victim of parent fashion crimes, but she loved me anyway. And I loved her. It…

In me was the Word

My oldest daughter was born on New Year’s Eve, and, hugely pregnant at Christmastime, I was often in mind of Mary. I felt bodily what it meant to submit oneself to the creative force of the universe. I felt what it meant to live with expectation, the giddiness and fear and uncertainty. I’ve been pregnant…

Every ordinary person

“She needed a hero so she became one.” I’ve been teaching my students about heroes and hero stories. We talk about the literary criteria. A hero is someone set apart, often from birth. We identify with them. They have a code of honor that requires them to take action when other’s won’t or can’t, usually on…

My own muchness

I was early on my first day of high school. My parents couldn’t drive me and the school district decided buses didn’t make sense when most of the students could drive themselves, so I took public transit. The city bus timetable got me to school forty minutes early. It was either that or twenty minutes late.…

The importance of unseen things

Yesterday a homespun miracle happened: I cut our first artichoke. Artichoke plants take three years to bear fruit and the starts I put in the ground last April weren’t in good shape by this spring. One had died and the other was slug-eaten and sad looking. Another year, I told myself. If it lives. But…

Directions for Delight

Go to the nearest body of water. Stand on the furthest point of land–the end of the dock, the bow of the boat, the lip of the shore. Take your shoes and socks off. Squelch mud or sift sand between your toes. Feel the earth beneath the hills and valleys of your feet. Feel how…

In Defense of Grief

I dreamed about Ella last night. I knew I hadn’t seen her lately, and I felt vaguely guilty, wondering if I had been neglecting her. She hopped onto my lap and I ran my fingers over her white, satiny fur. She lifted her face, nose and ears the color of pink ballet slippers, and wild…

Is food my enemy, or am I?

Right now I feel safe. Right now I’m living inside well-defined boundaries with lots of rules and restrictions. I don’t feel trapped here. I’m way more afraid of what’s outside the boundaries, so in here I’m happy as a cow penned up to pasture. But I’m afraid right now too because the boundaries are temporary…

Speak into the mic, please.

‘What is a Caucus-race?’ said Alice; not that she wanted much to know, but the Dodo had paused as if it thought that somebody ought to speak, and no one else seemed inclined to say anything…. Alice thought the whole thing very absurd, but they all looked so grave that she did not dare to…

My thumbs are not green. My garden does not care.

When my husband Matt and I first bought this hundred-year-old farmhouse, we were astounded by the gift of it. In this seaside town north of Seattle, townhouses with postage stamp footprints are being built down the street in both directions, but this old homestead parceled off its farmland to suburban expansion and stopped with a third…

Creating an intention for your year

“…isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” -L.M. Montgomery from Anne of Green Gables So often when we come upon a new year, we think about what we dislike about ourselves, our habits, and our lives, and create resolutions to address them. Bettering ourselves is a…

A letter from your older self

“In whatever sorrow you may be, however inconsolable and irremediable it may appear, believe me that the old woman in the cottage, with the young eyes, knows something, though she must not always tell it, that would quite satisfy you about it, even in the worst moments of your distress.” -from Phantastes by George MacDonald…