The outside light flicks on early this morning, and my little cat Acer stares wide-eyed at a skunk making its snuffling and curious away around a flowerpot I left on the back step. Well before dawn, the cats are already fed, the kitchen warm, redolent with coffee, and here’s this wild creature, not in the least troubled by the two of us.

The skunk waddles on its way. Shortly afterwards, snow and chunks of ice rush down the house roof and crash on the porch, softened in the rising temperature. My cat runs. I wonder about the porch railing which snapped in prior years, but nothing appears broken. The design is poor — steep roof and wide porch and slender railings — and I let myself wonder just for a moment if this is some kind of hidden cosmic twist, a long-buried plan from when my former husband built this porch. I cut off that sentiment. This far along in life, I’m well-acquainted with the steepness of roofs and the precariousness of ice and snow and dynamic temperature. Gravity is not ruled by human desire.

At the other end of the day, I’m carrying in a few armloads of wood from the barn when another ice chunk falls, shaking the porch where I had tread a moment before. Through the glass door, my teen raises her hands — what’s happening? — Acer at her feet.

The cold’s drilling back in for the night. In the valley below, the village twinkles in the darkness. The wind whirls around the scent of woodsmoke. I step back, finally wary. The roof has cleared.

When you’re young, you are certain of your capacity to imagine a way out of the previous generation’s problems. There is a different way to grow old, paths that don’t involve conforming and selling out….

— Hua Hsu, Stay True

2 thoughts on “Falling.

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