Random February Late Afternoon

With the number of snow days this year, I imagine my daughter will be picking handfuls of peas from my garden when she walks to school in June. The lilac blossoms will hang limply by then, past their sweet prime, fading. No sense mentioning this to her, now.

Ice skating at the end of the day, just before the beautiful February twilight began folding around us, the girls’ former bus driver appears from the snowmobile trail where he and his dog had been walking.

He stops to talk to us as I lace up my skates, and points out a nearby house where he grew up. I ask what it was like. He’s in his sixties, and I know he’s traveled, worked in Costa Rice, and returned to Hardwick again.

It was all kids. There were six kids in my family. Everyone had at least four kids. Sometimes a lot more. He stares at the house. Irish Catholic.

I wait. On a night of freezing rain a few years back, he came to the town’s bookstore when I read my from my new novel. Later, picking up my kids at the bottom of our driveway, he told me a particular character reminded him of his father, long dead.

He tells me where the ice skating rink was in those years, stares at the house a little longer, then wishes us a good skate and disappears.

No one else is around. The ice is perfect. Before we leave, we prop the three folding metal chairs and two chairs high in bank, so they won’t get lost in more snow.

Mount Fuji in winter
The sun and stars are big-hearted
and strict.

— Lida Dakotsu


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