Almost immediately after a children’s play at the Craftsbury Library tonight, my daughters ran outside. Was it the weirdly warm December weather? The joy of seeing a long-time friend? I sat on the back porch slouched in a rocking chair, watching the sun sink behind the Lowell ridge, listening to ten-year-old hysterical laughter.
My teenager appeared, and we were all crazed, wandering around the church, the gazebo, the war memorial. As the dusk steadily pressed down, the children raced across the Common. At the far end, I saw the white-painted fence, and nothing of the children but a smear of a red coat.
Spring fever? In December? In a world rapidly turning upside down? With my teenager, our conversation often seems one long meandering line of history, of the bloody business spanning centuries. But the world turned upside down is inescapable in this mud-season December, with my laundry hung out to dry on the clothesline.
The girls lay on the grass, and I teased them, Make snow angels. Christmas is coming! I pressed the toes of my boots against one of the girls’ feet. This same girl bequeathed me these boots a few years ago, when she had outgrown them. Having walked through some serious living in these boots, the sole under my right foot has split, a crack where water from the thawing earth bled up through my sock, soaking my skin.
In the twilight, she was laughing. How’s that for a composition? This glossy-eyed girl, giggling in the shifting bits of remaining light, ruddy-cheeked with gorgeous health, hair unraveling in a braid, her back and shoulders pressed into Vermont sod while overhead the constellations merge into view, and our planet spins steadily, on and on….
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul…