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Springtime. Warmth returning. Rain falling. Flowers budding. Spring is a time of renewal and new growth. Talk to us about this glorious green season. What about Spring excites you? What do you look forward to? Or is Spring your least favorite time of year?

By Charles

I consider myself a member of many communities. I am a musician and a gamer; a father and a son; a midwestern boy with established roots in Kansas soil. All of these and more contribute to my sense of self and shape the communities I find myself in. I also am a naturally reticent person. I express my feelings in the written word, but in person I struggle to overcome the oppressive weight of social anxiety and am constantly trying to read non-verbal cues to know how I should mold myself to avoid rejection. As I grew up, I developed routines; habits that helped me fit in. I even led groups in my communities: a section leader in band and a community organizer for the local game store. I felt more comfortable. No second-guessing interactions, just going from task to task and day to day with a plan for it all.


The disease that broke routines. It made me question why I was doing the things I was doing. Was I really interacting? Was I part of a community or just going through motions engrained bone deep in my consciousness? How do I fill my days, and if I don’t fill them to the top and pour on a dose of podcasts to fill the gaps, how do I sit with it? The silence. Standing still.

Three years in and life has ramped up again. I am reconnecting with friends and family. I am volunteering in a jazz band and attending conventions. I am taking family outings and smiling at neighbors at the annual summer cookout. Am I connected? Am I engaged? Have I just replaced old habits with new? Switched around the routines and convinced myself that this is really what I like? That this is my community? Who can say?

Maybe I will figure it out in the next pandemic.

By JocoWrites

What's your favorite way to engage in community?

By Mia Justice

A boo here, a cackle there, a growl, and maybe even some rattling! Who goes there? Perhaps it's just someone you know? Could it be a ghost, a zombie, a vampire, OR MORE? Deadly, scary, giving you such a FRIGHT...OH MY!!! What if they want to be your friend? It might want to hold your hand! Next to your sweater that you wear in cold weather. Wearing your shoes, your new red squeaky shoes! Maybe it's wearing your hat? You floppy black hat! Is it wearing your costume? A cat, a giant bat? What's in your closet? What's in your room? Could you scare it away with the flick of a broom? You should leave your room, or perhaps, it'll leave itself soon... But before you take a peek, try and catch it sneak... Sneak... Sneak... Creak... BOOM!!! JUMP OUT OF YOUR ROOM! RIDING A BROOM! WRINKLY GREEN FACE! GIANT FLOWING ROBES! She has a small black CAT! A scary cat, AND a little baby BAT! A witch, where? A witch...OVER THERE!!! 'Happy Halloween,' she smiles, she laughs! 'Thanks for playing my game,' she soars, she claps!

By Charles

My love of music is a lighthouse. It shines out over the sea of my life, and no matter where I go or what I do, it is there. A constant beacon on the shoreline, guiding me past rocky shoals and into safe harbor.

Some of my earliest memories: • My mother playing the dulcimer; the hammers ringing against the strings with sudden brilliance, and the ghostly echoes resonating in the copper toned wooden frame • Pounding on the keyboard of the console piano at my grandma’s house, being yelled at for not treating the instrument with respect, but not before the booming jangle filled me up with joy • The pressure in my chest every time a band marched by in a parade, and the inability to judge whether it came from the booming bass drums or my yearning to join them

I thought music would be my life, so I chased it, following its siren call wherever it led. I skipped school to play Christmas music at the mall. I have ridden in a van with people I just met at a vocal recital for a chance to sing in a barbershop choir for a night. I tried to cover six different parts for the pit orchestra to Into the Woods, experiencing the joy of pushing my abilities to their limit and the devastation of the reality of my failure.

More memories: • Smoothies after a concert with friends who made each other laugh so hard that the coffee shop employees told us we had to leave • Ice cold pizza with crust like cardboard tasting like magic as my body tried to contain the excitement and anticipation for my first performance in front of 50,000 college football fans • The emotional intimacy built with colleagues who are now spread out across the country but live forever just a downbeat away in my heart

A lighthouse isn’t a life. It is a tool. People work there, and I can visit. I can even stay and direct the light for other people in my life. I can shine bright and cast away shadows and fill myself with purpose and passion for the light. But as I learn more about myself, I find balance to be key.

I can build a house on the shoreline.

I can give my love to my family and my friends.

I can work and play and create.

But I also can bask in the light from time to time or take a trip around the bay. As long as I have the light in my life, I can find my way to joy.

By Cheryl Morai-Young

July 24th almost passed from morning to evening without me remembering. Without me remembering that it was our son's Name Day. When I texted him “Happy Name Day” at 6:35, he responded, “I didn't even realize!” And that made me happy. Happy that the big day in 2015 in front of the judge with our pro bono lawyer had faded to just a normal day in his life, our lives. Happy that changing his name had been a way for him to begin his new life, happy that he was living his best life being comfortable in his body, accepted and loved. In 2011, a book about a fish had saved his life when he was in high school: Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger in the Teen section of our local public library. Parrotfish are gender fluid and can change genders throughout their lives. He said that book helped him name his identity. And we were there every step of the way to love and support him and educate ourselves and others. Twelve years has passed since his coming out, and eight since his legal new Name Day. And now it's just a normal day almost forgotten by a busy young man living his life. And that makes me the happiest of all.

By Anna

August has been one of the drier Summer months. The creek beds aren't as full and there is more dust kicked up by the gravel. Nevertheless, at least the air isn't full of wildfire particulates. This is the time of year to remember to be thankful for the Sun, in all of its comings and goings and mainly in just sticking around for as long as it does. As someone who lives alone, it is the Sun that wakes me and tells me to get out of bed. It is the Sun that gives light and warmth on the walks to and from work. The Sun keeps me company while eating lunch or reading a book on the porch. Long days bring me joy.

What do you love about your life right now? Where do you find joy and happiness?

By Anna

The Peace You Seek is Over Yonder Hill

Moss is the first to sigh, a verdant green to catch the eye. Birds trill; dead grass rustles - and then all at once it bustles: with the quiet hum of bees, with the first small leaves on the trees.

Dead. Emaciated. For deer, Spring is long awaited. Spread seeds or put out feed, but rain is all She needs for speed in sprouting from the ground sustenance adequate, abound.

Spring’s flower pilot: Dandelion and violet. Garlic mustard grows tall, then there’s hardly ivies at all. When burdock leaves widen, that's when mayapples ride in.

Longing to join the fray? Singing keeps coyotes at bay. “Leave no trace” is some oath. Clear trash – before the undergrowth – Use dead wood by the path lest erosion be the aftermath.

When feeling abrasive, pull out those who are most invasive. Be not a bystander, When taking time to meander. “A steward!” Calls the land And who can answer that demand?

The best family is -wort as their root’s uses can assert. After Spring equinox, Honeysuckles, hawthorns, and phlox, if you happen to see, try making them in to a tea.

Thistle in the prairie often grows by some dewberry. Parsnip, carrots, hemlock: Deadly lookalikes make most balk. White snakeroot kills cows, so be careful which groves they browse.

Heat forms foliage thinned, but shade blocks the sun and the wind. Like a seed, unravel To grow, to laugh, and to travel. Hydrate and sleep enough; Only in youth are you so tough.

Shrill songs of the birds a longing to live, without words, has one stumbling on and on, as quickly as a fawn, knowing the night will come and to Autumn all will succumb.

By Audrey Liebschutz


I started noticing color today — A restored Chevy Nova, painted a bright, sparkly blue I wore a red shirt to the grocery store And caught my reflection in the glass as I entered.

How accustomed to the dullness I'd become So many months of brownness, dullness Cloudy skies, rain, cold, snow, creating a pall to the senses.

The quickening of the earth, just starting to show Awakens the anticipation – daffodils pushing up through The softened soil reminding me of plump robins.

The cool breeze carrying the scent of thaw Caresses my face and newly bared arms. I close my eyes and breathe it in. New life infuses me.