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  • Sara Tucker

Shirly’s Diary: August 13–20

Updated: May 13, 2021


When I spoke with my friend Shirly Hook at the end of July, she was feeling down. Shirly is the author of My Bring Up, stories about her Vermont childhood, which Korongo published last year, and she has been working on an Abenaki cookbook. As we spoke, she expressed regret that she had been unable to concentrate on her writing. I suggested that she keep a diary and just write a few words per day, about whatever was on her mind. I was already designing a diary-keeping workshop, and I asked Shirly if she would help me launch the project here on the Korongo Books blog. She graciously agreed. Shirly, I should add, serves on the council of chiefs of the Koasek, a band within the Abenaki tribe. Her diary is an inspiration. Despite the harshness of the year 2020, or perhaps as an antidote, she focuses, in her writing, on the abundance in her life—the natural world and its wonders, the pleasures of growing her own food and seeing her hard work come to fruition, enjoying the company of her children and grandchildren after months of isolation. She ends her daily writing with an affirmation that seems directed as much to the reader as to herself, a reminder to look for the goodness in life. The woman is a leader, a pathfinder; as I study her writing, I notice the importance she places on ritual and daily practice—taking walks, following the patterns of birds and animals, preparing food, tending her garden, repeating words of faith, and, for now, recording her days. This installment of her diary begins at her Braintree home, where she has come to do a few chores before returning to a camp on Shadow Lake in northern Vermont, to spend some time with her children. —Sara Tucker

 

The Journal, Part 3


By Shirly Hook

August 13, 2020

Slipped out of bed about quarter to six. The morning started off cool, about 58 degrees.

The string beans, cucumbers, broccoli, squash, and tomatoes were picked the night before.

Supper was cooked on the grill: steamed broccoli, Kennebec potatoes, and chicken.

Sitting on the front porch of the cabin is so much different than the lake. Many different birds, and other sounds surround me.


The hummingbirds are gliding back and forth, up and down, warning the others of his space. The beautiful colors reflect in the morning light. He sits on top of the shepherd’s staff, and catches his breath a moment, and jets off to bother the other hummingbirds.


In the distance, a bulldozer is repairing the large pond; the water was let out about two weeks earlier. The geese, bitterns, and blue heron are wondering where their pond went. The center of the pond looks to be about 25 feet deep. Now there is just a mud puddle that the birds venture into. The heron and bittern, with their long beaks, are able to go into the puddle and get creatures that burrowed into the mud to survive.