A few minutes early to collect the 12-year-old and her friend from track practice, the 19-year-old and I take a walk around a neighborhood circle near the high school, passing a house I considered buying but didn’t.
Full of excitement about her morning, my daughter talks on and on, her happiness as visible as red-breasted robins in a bare-branched maple tree. We pause for a moment before the three-story house, with large original windows on the first and second floors, bordered at the top by ornate stained glass. The owner confessed the windows leaked air profusely but couldn’t bear to replace them. The house is no longer for sale; my daughter and I speculate the family still lives there.
We walk by another house flanked by five sugar maples, the trees young enough to live for many more decades.
Robins, both visible and hidden, sing.
My daughter and I pass these houses and these possible lives our family might have taken but didn’t. Then we’re back at the high school, still in the cold and clear March sunlight, beside a maple filled with robins fluttering their wings, chorusing in the beginning of spring.
I know that I love the day,
The sun on the mountain, the Pacific
Shiny and accomplishing itself in breakers,
But I know I live half alive in the world,
I know half my life belongs to the wild darkness.
— Galway Kinnell