A number of years ago, I conceived an idea that our family’s financial salvation lay in wedding favors. With our maple syrup, colored card stock, a paper cutter, and raffia, I filled tiny bottles with syrup and bow-tied on little cards printed with hopeful things like Julie and Josh, July 8, 2001, Eat, Drink & Be Merry. Or: A sweet beginning. In the long run, my fortune didn’t lie there, but I met interesting people at profoundly pivotal junctures in their lives.
One April, in an intense mud season, a couple unexpectedly drove out to our house. We were deep in the midst of sugaring with a three-year-old. On our back road and driveway – and all around the house where the snowbanks were fiercely melting – lay mud that sucked at our knee-high boots with an audible glop. The winter had been its usual terror, and immense snowbanks mounded all around the house, interspersed by our trodden paths. My gorgeous little girl, with unbrushed hair, walked around shirtless in overalls and mud boots, a yellow plastic sand toy shovel in one hand.
The couple had heard about our wedding favors and had arrived to order in person. He and my husband talked about Ford pickups while I chatted with the woman. She kept looking around, distressed. It’s just so muddy, she kept saying. How do you stand it? Where she cringed from dirt and inconvenience, I saw sunlight so intensely bright it lay like shining gold coins on the shallow dips of water that spread out all around our house, as though we were a ship on a rippling sea. I knew mud as the world’s thrust from winter to spring, the give from one season to another. My heart lightened with joy at the end of a bitter cold season and the imminence of wildflower season. I knew coltsfoot would shortly bloom.
…Soon it will be the sky of early spring, stretching above the stubborn ferns and
Nothing can be forced to live.
The earth is like a drug now, like a voice from far away,
a lover or master. In the end, you do what the voice tells you.
It says forget, you forget.
It says begin again, you begin again.
– Louise Gluck, from “March”