Radiance

My 12-year-old went wild with the row of tiny icicles along our roof. They’re back! It takes me a moment to figure out what she’s saying. When I do, I jam on my boots, step out, and reach up for two tiny sticks of ice.

Inside our sunny kitchen, I offer her the icicles. She shares them with her kitten. The ice melts quickly – it disappears to wet fur, and then that’s all.

The kitten wraps his paws in stray yarn. Our day moves along. First sprinkles of snow: beautiful.

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.

– John Steinbeck

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In Between Seasons

And then suddenly it’s November, and the foliage is flattening to gray, the tamaracks beginning to burn their golden torch flames. Like a memory, the bones of trees appear again – oh, branches have been under your leaves all summer. In an odd way, it’s an incredibly graceful time of year.

Maples often shed from the top down, so the tiptoe branches are stritching against the sky, while the lower limbs are yet golden, barely rust-speckled.

I thought of these trees, half in one season, half in another, when my daughter was loonily recovering from a tooth extraction. I couldn’t resist asking, when she was cloudy and laughing, Are you grown up?

Just recently, she insisted that, since she’s no longer a minor, she’s an adult.

But yesterday, cloudy with anesthesia, she revealed that she’s not wholly, entirely, all grown up.

One foot in, with her long legs stretching, she’s far more in the adult world than the lingering tatters of her childhood, but yet….

On the Cusp

The raucousness of Vermont summer simmers down in September. The songbirds are long finished with their mating season, and our main company these days is the constant sizzle of crickets.

As if she sensed the quietness, too, my 11-year-old and I played cribbage after school, drinking lemonade with the kitchen windows wide open and eating tomatoes. My kid’s favorite snack these days are tomatoes, juicily ripe, still warm from the vine. Before bed tonight, she stood on the balcony, the curve of moon hidden in an apple tree.

Summer’s nearly shot all its splendor out. What’s growing in the garden has hit its threshold, except for some greens and the squash still fattening under the cover of its vines.

It’s a poignant time in many ways, with the days shortening rapidly, but the afternoons steamy enough to swim. I always consider September full of many things: back to schoolbooks but still digging in the dirt, the tempo winding down, the wild beauty of autumn’s song just around the bend.

Dry cheerful cricket
chirping, keeps
the autumn gay…
Contemptuous of frost

– Bashō

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Craftsbury Common, Vermont