At this point in my life, some things I can easily do – create a meal from a handful of ingredients and a hopeful smile. Here, I think, the making of this is enough. I can passably braid a child’s hair, weed a vegetable bed, paint a wall, read a novel, stack wood. All these, at varying points of my life, I put real thought and energy into accomplishing.
I’m sometimes tagged as a writer who has a “sense of place” – a phrase I’ve more or less taken for granted. Sure, I have a feel for Vermont, a love for my state, and I’ve shed my share of sweat and blood in agriculture. But the longer I remain in one place, the greater my love of this place deepens in complexity. My garden this year was infested with cabbage root maggots; the brassica seedlings I planted withered within a week of planting. A year ago, I had 80 kale plants; this year, none.
The dynamic, however, is one of the key beauties of this place. Working outside in the dusk, my daughter and I stacked wood this afternoon. The twilight inched in, shade by shade, taking its own sweet time. So much of American life exhorts homogeny: the same food chains, grocery and hardware stores, clothes and electronics, even the same education for our children. To love a place deeply demands knowing that place in all its vicissitudes, even the raw dark of rainy November or the frost that might have stomped in early and quashed your cucumbers. As my child and I lingered in the gloaming, I reminded myself that these in-between places are fertile, too, imbued with mystery.
“In the Gloaming” by Meta Orred
In the gloaming, oh, my darling,
When the lights are dim and low,
And the quiet shadows falling,
Softly come, and softly go…