Where We Are

One week into April, golden coltsfoot flowers — dime-sized — push up through roadside gravel. Every day and then again in the evening, we walk and explore, searching for frog eggs, for ribbons of green shoots pushing up through the forest floor.

The isolation is hardest on my teenager, who gets up every morning, soldiers away at her schoolwork, goes for a long run.

Implicitly, she understands. There’s no attempt to discuss the end of isolation, of the emptied-out town, of her abandoned high school. In these sunny, radiantly spring days, we progress.

Isolation pulled us down — almost immediately — to what matters, and, really, nothing else. Each day, accomplish some work. Share a meal. Pet our cats. Knit a few rows.

Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.

— Philip Booth, “First Lesson”



13 thoughts on “Where We Are

  1. I’ve never knowingly seen coltsfoot. How beautiful! The nearby towns are closing down the trails I usually hike–at least the entrances to them. We have yellow and wakerobin trillium popping up everywhere. The trout lilies have come and gone. Snakes are stirring. Dogwoods are turning white. The fruit trees and blackberries are glorious. I feel more grounded being immersed in these rhythms of nature.

    • Coltsfoot is gorgeous. Absolutely bright yellow, and the very first wildflower. Interestingly, it also blooms before leafing. You must be in the south with dogwoods and blossoms….

      I’m with you on loving being outside these days — definitely our greatest pleasure.

  2. So much hangs on these fraying threads for the teenagers. My senior girl calmed down and carried on after making her college decision for Warren Wilson. I think getting past that really helped her look beyond her disappointments. Thankfully, here in Vermont we have the natural world to hold the kids and let them be a little free. How are the poor city kids staying sane? (Or, more likely, their parents???). I’m thankful that my kid has a horse to ride in a barn where almost no one goes. That seems to be saving her life these days. She is riding this morning. I just sent her that marvelous bit of poem. So perfect.

    • She’s so lucky to have a horse these days! I really can’t imagine city life these days. It’s challenging enough to be in a pandemic — although, if this were winter in Vermont, I’d likely be singing a different story.

      Warren Wilson has such a great reputation. I wish her a terrific (and healthy) freshman year!

  3. Smart girls! And those fields! I’d like to find a field to walk in. We take pup Rufus for walks down to and along the river – the same walk we’ve always taken – but these days have to weave back and forth, crossing streets to avoid everyone who now comes out on these days, because they have nowhere else to go. We give each other wide berth and wave and smile… nervously.

  4. Our teens are hard pressed too by the solitude. But even my introverted wife is looking forward to going to the DMV, jury duty and children’s vaccination appointments at the Doctor’s.

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