Far enough after twilight that the darkness has set in for the night, I walk up to the library to leave my returns in the book drop. The bitter cold has snapped, worn down by the day’s warmth. Cold in February will return — it nearly always does — but the tide of winter has pushed over.
Spring in Vermont is a long ways off. This is a rude truth, and it’s also true that this is the time of year I begin hungering for green. I take my time, walking back through a neighborhood. Hardly anyone is out, save for a man standing on his back step, drinking a beer and smoking. The smoke curls upward in the lamplight just above his head. Down the street, a small child comes running at me, his or her head hung down a little, tired perhaps. The child wears a knit cap and a dark coat and hurries along, keeping a wide berth from him. At the house with the man and the cigarette, the child leaps the snowbank. The man says, “Hey now, been waiting.”
The boy rambles about “sledding gone soft.” As I turn the corner, the man’s deep voice follows me. He says kindly, “Wait a week, kiddo.”
Good advice for kiddo, I think. I follow the steep street up to my house, where the cat is waiting in the windowsill for me, and the daughter is solving math equations.
Collectively, I think, we’re all in a waiting period.