Driving, Dancing, Sometime in October

The past few days — as though the deepest part of winter has set in early — I come and go in the dark, leaving early while my daughters are sleeping. When I return, I step out of my car and stand for a moment and gaze up at the inky sky, with that sprawling morass of glittering stars.

To break up the interstate’s monotony, I take Route 2 back to Montpelier from working in Burlington. Blue highway Route 2 follows the Winooski River — native name for wild onion — and cuts through small towns and sprawling farm fields. The corn fields, harvested for the year, are harrowed up, open earth against the mountains shouldering this river valley. Autumn opens up the landscape, sheds the leaves from the trees, and reveals more clearly where we are.

Where we are is the first scattering of snow on the ground yesterday morning. Soup simmering on the stove with what I’ve pulled from the garden — carrots, sage, beans, kale. Driving home, I switch off NPR and empty my mind of the day’s talk at work, of midterms and opioid use, of struggling to use writing to make sense of the world.

In our kitchen, my 19-year-old cooks bacon. I ask how the day’s gone. She says her ears are throbbing. The 13-year-olds had a dance party.

Rock on, I think. I close the curtains and ask if the chickens are shut in for the night.

We climbed stiffly out of the car.
The shut-off engine ticked as it cooled.

And then we noticed the pear tree…
and we each took a pear,
and ate, and were grateful.

— Jane Kenyon, “Coming Home at Twilight in Late Summer”


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