The best books I read in 2022

Fiction: True Biz by Sara Nović, The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré, The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki, Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney, The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich

Non-fiction: Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Poetry: Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong

Jasmine tea and thunder in the morning. Jays scream at a red-shouldered hawk while I nap in the hammock. Fireflies and bats mingle in the air at dusk. The Buddha taught metta as an antidote to fear, so I meditate with all the love I can muster.

Getting acquainted with the Roan

There is a trick for time travel if you’ve taken spring for granted: climb higher. As I drove out of the Piedmont and into the Blue Ridge, I watched it all happen in reverse– the dogwood and redbud blooms closed up. Leaves curled back into leaflets and then compressed into fat buds. I travelled nearly all the way back to grey winter nakedness. Up in Roan Valley, the forsythia was just beginning to show off. Snow lingered in shaded patches on the steep slope. I thought perhaps I’d travelled back too far.

Atop the Roan, the wind will give you an earache. I was glad to see my first raven since moving east, but she was eerily silent. I wished for her to say just one thing to me.

Facing west on Jane Bald

I was waiting for an omen to welcome me to my new home, because yes, we are moving again. This time for the last time in a long while. We keep saying that.

My relief came at Engine Gap, beside a snowmelt rivulet eroding the trail. My childhood favorite: the bluet. I would have thought it impossible– too cold, too exposed. Such exhilarating joy to be so wildly surprised. And such comfort.

Houstonia caerulea

The best books I read in 2021

Fiction: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu, The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Nonfiction: Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez, Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl by Jonathan C. Slaght, Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald

Poetry: A Fortune for Your Disaster by Hanif Abdurraqib

A change of scenery

Little Sugar Creek, Charlotte, NC

I am becoming reacquainted with so much of what I took for granted— fireflies, downpours, indigo buntings. I didn’t expect it all to feel so familiar. I’ve never lived in the South, but after three years in the Great Basin, North Carolina Piedmont feels close to the home I’ve been homesick for.

At least at first glance. It’s dizzying to look closely and realize the leaves are in shapes I’ve never seen. I’m swimming through birdsong which is not quite identifiable, but lingers in the back of my mind. Is it that I used to know or that I am about to know? When I start feeling uneasy, the skittering of an anole around the trunk of a tree brings me back to my senses.