“Building Beyond Coperthwaite”

I’ve known since August that my words, my pictures, would appear in this month’s Taproot issue, themed SHELTER.  I cried when I found out they wanted to use my essay.  The kind of crying that had Josh rubbing my back, wondering what terrible news I had just been given.  Not terrible, wonderful.  Albeit terrifying.

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Those words are basically my journal, my thoughts, printed.  It felt vulnerable, but it also felt necessary.  It had given me the reason to dig deeper into these past several years.  The reason to write about it, writing that helps me see what I even think…

I couldn’t look at the printed essay when it first arrived.  When I did read it the next day it was so strange to see my words, my thoughts, my story, edited.  I expected edits, fully knowing I do not neatly follow grammar rules.  Still, it was unsettling to see my thoughts tweaked.  There is something that feels off for me when I think “children wiggled into my arm pillows” and it becomes “my children wiggled over to the pillows of my arms.”

More unsettling were edits that attempted to clarify but changed the truth of parts of the essay.  I now understand these resulted from the juggle of trying to figure out the best copyediting approach in an independently published reality.  Bill was not going to a family Thanksgiving, he was on his way to visit friends.   Bill did not make beet slaw to share, I made it and hiked it into Bill’s to share.  Dan did not recently move to Washington, but rather has lived on the west coast for decades.

I recognize that the editing was difficult for me because I am so close to those words, living and breathing them.  After a couple of days clarity settled in and once again the joy and reason returned.  After all, all of the reasons I’d wanted to write that essay still stood strong…

…I did it because this theme gave me a framework to let my thoughts pour into, the deadline keeping me focused on unraveling those thoughts into something that made some sense of it all.

…I did it to pay tribute to Bill Coperthwaite, to pay tribute to the impact of his chosen path and teachings.

…I did it because I believe in what Taproot strives for, being an ad-free independently-published quarterly whose motto is “living fully, digging deeper.”  I wanted to support it beyond just being a subscriber.  I anticipate each issue and eat up one article each morning with breakfast until I’ve taken in every beautiful image, every ad-free page, and every different angle of inspiration.  It has impacted my life in more ways than I know at this point, from the sourdough bread I make, the chaga chai I drink, the leek sauerkraut I eat, and even how I think about neighbors and death.

Today I’m thankful the story is spun into something tangible.  I’m thankful that it is in Taproot, where it feels it belongs.  I’m thankful that I showed up for what I believe in.


Sometimes just that showing up for what we believe in becomes something even bigger and better.  The children and I helped plant heritage apple trees last spring (wrote about in this post).  Months later we find ourselves spun into Huey Coleman’s “Maine Heritage Orchard” film that will be part of the 2016 Maine Short Film Festival.


A scene from the film: planting trees
at the Maine Heritage Orchard

This, preserving our little blip of an impact on something that feels right and important.  Not showing the long car ride, the cold weather that nipped our fingers and sent us scurrying home.  Just showing tiny moments of participating in something I believed in.  Interestingly, seeing the film I find that I believe in it even more after the fact…


I remember the girl who once sat in the backseat of the family car listening to Aaron Tippin sing “You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.”  I remember her wondering what she stood for, being a little afraid that she didn’t have an answer.  I wish I could whisper to her that sometimes it takes time, that someday she’d have many things that she stands for (and that a tiny part of that knowing would be realizing she did not stand for country music…) 🙂

11 thoughts on ““Building Beyond Coperthwaite”

  1. Thankful you are feeling the joy of it all. It is a beautiful, lasting piece that will inspire so much in so many… I recently have been bestowing those “Aaron Tippin” words on little girl lately. I don’t know who he is and have always equated it with Malcolm X! So timely to see someone else thinking along the same lines though. Hugs to you ❤

    • Thank you. I took a peak at your pages and really respect what you are doing. Beautiful images and clearly very intentional living. We do love the Common Ground Fair. Perhaps we passed by in the throngs there. 🙂

  2. i love reading your blog… and yes.. i do prefer your words.. arm pillows ? what’s not to understand.. lovely of you to keep putting your thoughts on paper.. Best wishes for Christmas to your family

  3. Hi! I found this blog after reading your article in taproot and have flipped through several (dozen) of your posts and just want to give you and your family a little fist bump for all of what you’re doing! I have this quote in my house, and it sounds like it fits your life right now: “To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.” – Soren Kierkegaard. Keep up the good and inspirational work!

  4. I truly loved it. I know it’s hard to see your words “tweeked” but I didn’t love the piece because of the beet slaw and who I thought made it, the arm pillows, or even where Dan lived. I loved it, because I could relate to your heart. And I was moved by the soulful tribute to your mentor. Lovely. Truly lovely. -Ann

  5. Bill’s legacy lives on. Beautiful work.

    I know Maine, Bill, and JoAnna Allen from the ’90s. Maine always had a mystical hold on me.

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