Running Icicles

Birds are singing this morning when I step out on the back deck, and walk barefoot to the edge of the covered porch to see the blue layers of mountains and valley, the gray clouds from horizon to horizon, thin enough that sunlight might emerge, later this morning. It’s 3 degrees, and I don’t linger long, lacking socks and all.

It’s winter break for Vermont school kids, the week that straddles into March’s first Tuesday Town Meeting Day. While a surprising number of families I know are flying elsewhere — warmer climes, assuredly sunny beaches — ironically, I’m writing an article about parenting on the cheap, a topic I’m intimately familiar with. The writing will be creative and even informative, but the 2,000 or 2,500 words might as well be compressed into don’t spend, my general roadmap.

If economy is my roadmap, though, the compass points are not in the least money-related. Years ago, I walked around the halls of the Dartmouth Medical Center, baby in my arms. We were really merely passing through — our stay was so minor — but the stay of many, many others was not. I stood in one cathedral-ceilinged lobby, baby girl sleeping with her tiny head on my shoulder, listening to a man play a Mozart sonata on a grand piano. On a wall hung a painting of a red tulip in a flowerpot with take joy written below.

Those two words? A challenge, perhaps, but a reminder of sheer possibility. Yesterday, icicles dripped from our roof, all morning.

And, as always, it’s a pleasure to appear in State 14 again, sending out a Postcard from Hardwick.

(Happiness comes) ….to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

—Jane Kenyon, from “Happiness”


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