Light Turning.

Walking into town, I pass a house that has been abandoned for the five years I’ve lived here. Last winter, a vehicle skidded off the road and smashed through the front window. Since then, plywood has covered the front.

There’s a few houses like this in that neighborhood, the paint gray, the windows filthy, tiny yards gone over to weeds or dirt. In the pandemic’s craze, people moved back into a few of these, converting abandoned places into homes again. The driver of a fuel truck stood outside this house yesterday with a young couple, the three of them talking seriously, nodding heads. Sheets of foam insulation leaned against the house. On the side wall, someone had ripped off the dirty plastic and exposed a large square window, its top edge red and blue stained glass. Without stopping, I wondered what else was inside the house.

End of January — and suddenly the sunlight returned in full force. Today may be cloudy, tomorrow, too, maybe for days to come, but the earth is tilting. Slow as spring is, we’re leaning that way.

Don’t say my hut has nothing to offer:

come and I will share with you

the cool breeze that fills my window.

— Ryōkan (trans. John Stevens)

Making Things…

Mid-January, the earth is covered with ice and a crunchy snow a few inches deep. The meditative qualities of walking are swallowed up by fear of slipping or the grinding of hard snow beneath boots. People complain. Complaining is a normal winter’s activity, so are ice and snow, and yet — I’ll reiterate for what seems like the hundredth time again — we’ve slipped out of the cog of normalcy.

What I do:

I finish painting the bathroom (one Sunshine wall, the others Vanilla Ice Cream).

I’m diligent at my work.

My daughter and I go out for coffee, struggle through the CSS profile on financial forms, talk and talk and circle around.

I rise early every morning and rewrite my novel, snip, stitch, elaborate, with my imagination and my hands. In the night, I wake and lay more wood on the fire, pieces of my life arising in words: loons and dahlias and betrayal and desire.

On a Jane Alison bender (Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative), I inter-library-loan Alison’s memoir of how her parents switched partners with another couple, The Sisters Antipodes. Alison writes, “Making things helps make you.”

Sunlight on Sunday, a stiff breeze that jangles the wind chimes.

Poem for Monday Morning.

Across the Street

By Austin Segrest

I ran across the street, I didn’t know any better.
Ran out in the street, I didn’t know no better.
I just knew a woman was there, though I’d never met her.

She sat me in her parlor, distracted me with trinkets,
milky glass birds and fish, distracting trinkets.
She said my mother would be fine, but did she think it?

The world was a blur of crystal wings and fins.
My tears were casked in crystal, wings and fins.
She was the first of many lady-friends.

The tree shadows shortened, she brought me a drink of water.
Morning matured, she brought me a glass of water.
I drank it so fast, she went and brought another.

I kept looking out the window, she didn’t ask me what for.
I watched out that window, she didn’t ask what for.
The seconds broke off and lay there on the floor.

I imagined my mother’s route, as far as I could.
Her long morning walk, followed as far as I could.
Nothing I could do would do any good.

Suffer the little children, and forbid them not.
Christ said suffer the little children, and forbid them not.
Said love thy neighbor, sometimes she’s all you got.

The Wild.

Barr Hill, Greensboro, Vermont

I take a hurried walk on Nature Conservancy land in a slot of time between working hours and a planning commission meeting. I duck beneath the electric fence and wander up an old farm road and discover the most enchanting sight I’ve seen in a long time.

Bright blue forget-me-nots sprinkle the unmown road. Heifers graze in pasture on the other side of enormous sugar maples. The pasture glows amber in the late afternoon, humid light. It’s cool enough this afternoon that I’ve pulled on jeans beneath my dress, and my sandals have been switched for hiking boots. The woods are deep and lush.

This is Wallace Stegner land. He loved this Vermont town and lies buried in a town cemetery on the other side of the lake. As I walk, I’m reminded of his famous lines.

“We simply need that wild country available to us…. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.”

~ Wallace Stegner


This space of wildness wraps all around where I live, winding in and around these Vermont towns. Mighty — these trees and fields — but just as dear are these tiny blossoms, sprinkled all through the forest, far up in the woods where they disappear from sight.

Mixing Memory and Desire.

Note the wood smoke from our chimney….

Note this photo was taken yesterday afternoon, when I walked outside and nearly froze the soles of my feet. Note snow surrounded our house this morning….

Note that spring comes hard, hard, in Vermont. Jumping the starting block a few days, I keep thinking of T.S. Eliot’s lines:

“April is the cruelest month, breeding

lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

memory and desire, stirring

dull roots with spring rain.”

The first time I read these lines was in high school, digging into the poetry stacks in the school library, mesmerized by lines like Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky….

Later, later, spring will bloom in all its tender-petal beauty. But for now…. T.S. Eliot knows the score in Vermont.