A front row seat to the cycle of life

A hand holding a painted turtle that has retreated into its shell
Painted turtle held and photographed by the author.

While we knew the house would bring us closer to nature — surrounded as it is on three sides with forest and wetlands — the sheer volume and frequency of these encounters went grossly underappreciated. By the end of the first year it wasn’t uncommon to hear a yelp, thud, muttering, and what would become our new catchphrase, “Too much nature!” when face to face with yet another animal. And that was just the ones that made it inside.

Outside, the property hosts deer, turkey, geese, weasels, coyotes, rabbits, groundhogs, skunks, fisher cats, and various birds of prey. Confident gangs…

A lesson in class

Photo by Karina Coombs

It wasn’t the preschool tuition twice my annual salary or the second house that sat unused but for summer weekends. It wasn’t even the ATM receipt casually left on a kitchen counter showing an account balance I still can’t imagine 25 years later. No, the moment I truly became aware of class was the night my employer called to tell me about something funny.

“It just happened,” said Lynette*, still laughing at what she explained was the funniest thing. “So, we’re talking about college and celebrating Sara getting into Stanford, you know, and we ask Nick where he wants to…

Learning to live with uncertainty in the age of uncertainty

Photo by Karina Coombs

The voices in my head were so loud I hadn’t even noticed her sitting there until she spoke. Separated by a dozen or so chairs — half of them wrapped in restraints to keep people from getting too close to each other — we both sat in our hospital-issued scrubs, personal effects in clear plastic bags by our sides. “Good luck,” she said as a technician walked in. “You too.”

Take a deep breath and hold it for the count of 20.

“Let’s re-check in six weeks,” the doctor had said by email. “I suggest you follow up with a…

Karina Coombs

Freelance writer in the Greater Boston area.

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