The full moon gleams in the sky this morning as I head out to start my daughter’s car this pre-dawn morning.

Winter, my familiar friend.

Yesterday, chatting with my neighbor while we’re back to our traditional winter activity — snow shoveling — he said laughingly, Well, what are we going to do? Be mad about it?

Winter, dear friend, I now know you very, very well, in your elegant beauty. This year, I’m going to love you wholly — for at least two weeks.

Here’s a few Rebecca Solnit lines for this impeachment hearing week.

Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world.


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Armistice Day

This is the gray time in New England, when even the daylight is dull. Gone are the spring days of blue squill, the early morning birdsong.

After dinner, we walk in the dark.

My daughter and I read for hours. Later, she disappears for a run, while I proceed with my persistent thread of work. In all this, Marlboro College, where I was an undergraduate, appears (truly, this time) on the precipice of closing. All weekend, I follow the alumni FB thread — grief, anger, plotting — while I keep thinking of Marlboro and how much this tiny college gave me. I’m not alone in that, I see, listening to alumni after alumni.

November. Our house is warm. I open the curtains and let in the daylight. At 4 p.m., the noisy cat comes and yowls over my book, demanding his dinner. My daughter puts on her ski boots and walks around the house, listening to snow in the forecast. November: life churns on.

The rain had been falling with a pounding meanness, without ceasing for two days, and then the water rose all at once in the middle of the night, a brutal rush so fast Asher thought at first a dam might have broken somewhere upstream. The ground had simply become so saturated it could not hold any more water.

(The opening lines of Southernmost, by Silas House)


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Red Yarn Quest

The thing about winter is its beauty.

Very early this morning, I start my daughter’s car before she heads to work. Beneath the stars, it’s cold, and dawn is pushing away the night. The winter dawn is pale blue, like the edge of the ocean.

Inside, our house is warm, the cats fed and sleeping. I have piles of work to do and that makes me happy because it’s all hard but all worth doing.

My teenager is deeply immersed in a book series — and I’m insanely happy about that, too. She’s lusting after a driver’s license, a relocation to California, but, in the meantime, she’s still here, and, willingly or not, has agreed to come with me on a small expedition I’ve conjured, to discover the headwaters of a local river. Her older sister advises, It’s easier just to do those kind of things…

It’s somewhere in November. Time to knit to red sweater. If I use fingerling yarn, this project could last me months…..


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Silent November News

As if there was any lingering doubt, yesterday’s first snowfall marked a definitive end to the swimming season. And a beginning to the Winter Boot Season.

Sitting in a meeting in Burlington, Vermont, I stare through the window at the clouds pressing low over the slate-hued lake, the snow spitting at first — flake by flake — then sprinkling like a giant basket of milkweed seeds and fluff turned upside down.

Already? I think. Winter? And in my next heartbeat, spring oddly feels not so far off. In January, of course, this will be a different story, our house banked in by snow, my hands longing to sink into the earth.

But for now, there’s just that snow silently drifting into the lake, melting.

I don’t know why it made me happy to see the pond ice over in a day,
turning first hazy, then white.

— Jane Kenyon


Pre-snow! Calais, Vermont

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And then I found….

I dropped off three 14-year-old girls in the rain to rake leaves, seriously pursuing their entrepreneurial odd-job endeavor, then parked my little silver Toyota along the road and walked.

November: the season when the cold clouds come down to your face. As a kid in New Hampshire, I remember this as the season when the stone wall behind our house no longer warmed up in the sun, and we had the delicious pleasure of playing outside in the dark — before dinner.

I walked up a dirt road I had never followed, then saw a sign about a marker. I followed small white squares through the woods, startling six deer with brilliant white tails, and found a marker for the colonist who cleared a farm, built a cabin, and planted orchards. 1789. Down a hillside, a stream murmured.

The marker was placed by his descendants, in 1930, on the original site of the cabin. Father of 11 children, I stood there — me, the rain-wet trees and sodden, fallen leaves, the pale gold apples yet on the gone-wild trees — and wondered, And what of his wife?

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.

Mary Oliver


Calais, Vermont

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Wrong Way Closed

While poor California is burning, Vermont is flooded.

Driving to Burlington to meet my older daughter at the airport, my younger and I are suddenly stopped on Route 15. Road closed. I pull into a gas station and run up to a young man and ask him for intel. He’s from somewhere else and tells me Wrong Way Bridge is closed. That’s all he knows. The Lamoille is impassable at this point — the river, I’ve already seen, has risen wildly above its banks.

I stand there, thinking, unwilling to follow his advice to cut back through the mountains. I’m driving my older daughter’s car, which has — naturally — no paper map.

I approach a man who’s just bought a six-pack of tiny Coke cans, and ask for advice. He’s much taller than me, and bends down to look at my face, putting us at eye-level, then takes me to the edge of the parking lot and tells me where to turn, which roads to follow. It’s beautiful country, he says, where I’m sending you.

He tells me to turn left at the Y, but he’s gesturing right. I ask for clarification, and then he has me repeat the directions back to him, so he’s sure I know where I’m going.

We drive along the western side of Mount Mansfield, through farms with their cornfields shorn to stubble. November. His breath had a vague scent of whiskey, but the directions were spot-on, and countryside? Enchanting.

I think these days when there is so little to believe in — when the old loyalties — God, country, and the hope of Heaven — aren’t very real, we are more dependent than we should be on our friends.

— William Carlos Williams


Burlington, Vermont

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In my email inbox this morning, a lovely poem by Raphael Kosek, beginning:

My daughter is driving
across the continent, eating cheddar
in Wisconsin, waking to a cougar’s yellow
rasp, sleeping tentless
in a corn field….

Last night, with the power out, my younger daughter and I walked around town, the Main Street stores either marked closed with a cardboard lettered sign — gone home — or filled with folks simply hanging out, talking.

Later, we’re stuck in traffic, where the highway has washed down into the Lamoille River. We’re driving home from the one lighted town around here, my daughter eating fried rice with chopsticks, talking. We’ve nowhere in particular to go. I’ve let that constant press of time slip away. As we come into the town where we live, the darkness ubiquitous but for a gleaming slip of crescent moon, we’re still talking, just the two of us. She’s no longer the darling five-year-old I once tickled daily — daily tickle? she’d ask. How the world changes, and how it doesn’t. Short as time is, time is also long, too. We stand in the cold November night, beneath the starlight, listening.


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