And so it goes….

…. What day? What time?

My daughter — finally almost 15 and ready to get a driver’s permit — is marooned in closed-for-now-DMV land. Maybe in June? Meanwhile, DMV employees answer phones for unemployment questions.

Around a campfire in the evening, I step back in the house for a sweater and stand in our dining room. As the days grow longer, I’m losing track of time in the evenings, too. Many years ago, with little children, I was rigorous about bedtime. Now, we simply wear down and go to bed. It’s not all bad, but it comes as a surprise to me, this unmooring. Not at all like a vacation, our world grinds slower and slower, rooting us down into each day.

What will today bring?

On this day — I’m certain this is Sunday — that began with such a rosy sunrise, I’m hopeful for sunlight and gardening. Grape hyacinths are blooming.

IMG_7559

Photo by Gabriela Stanciu.

Posted in Vermont | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

New (Furry) Friend

My daughter was waiting on the trampoline when I came home from work the other day, sitting there waiting for me. We’re still in this crazy period where I’m almost always at home, but sometimes I head in.

She told me she made a new friend.

Seeing as there’s a pandemic and all, I was a little surprised. She took me around to the back porch and showed me a squirrel in a tree, just sitting there, hanging out in a branch.

My friend, she said. She’d been taking pictures of the creature.

So, that’s something. A teen who makes a friend with a brushy-tailed creature. Today, I sat on the porch all afternoon working. Off with her sister, she texted me, Has my friend returned?

Not yet. But I’m looking.

IMG_7129

Photo by Gabriela Stanciu

Posted in motherhood, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Black Soil, White Snow

Day whatever it is of the Stay Home order. On a virtual school board meeting that evening, we began asking each other who’s looking out their windows. I’d been staring out mine for a while, at snow falling briskly. Like December.

My friend emails about the year 1816 “and froze to death.  Wouldn’t that be something?  We could relive that dreadful summer at the same time as reliving the flu pandemic of 1918…”

The next morning, after I shovel snow off the back porch, I have another work call — something in pre-pandemic days that might have been handled by a few emails opens into a conversation about this stranger’s high school senior daughter, and college tuition, and poverty in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

The cat lies sleeping in my feet in sunlight on my kitchen floor. There’s this elongated  sense of time. Why not keep talking?

Much later that evening, my daughters and I take a walk through the woods where the light falls through the bare forest, still without its canopy. On the floor, we discover trilliums, Dutchman’s breeches, trout lilies, and — everywhere — spring beauties.

Day whatever. Tuesday or Wednesday — somewhere in there. The peas are up in the garden.

IMG_7769

Posted in Vermont | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Opening….

Here’s a strange thing — we had bring-your-own dinner on our lawn last night, around the fire, with two friends — socially distant, with an awful lot of chatting and catch up.

Now, I’m beginning to accept that our world will never return to how I once understood it, even a few months ago. But how, and when, will we begin to understand each other again? Relate to each other? Be with each other? So much uncertainty.

Maybe this is how the world begins to open up again — eating chili on the grass, smoke drifting over the garden, my daughter’s friend bundled in her coat, a hat jammed on her head, laughing.

When you truly understand one thing—a hawk, a juniper tree, a rock—you will begin to understand everything.

Ellen Meloy, Eating Stone: Imagination and the Loss of the Wild

IMG_2228

Posted in Vermont | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Not-So-Secret Crush

Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 11 a.m., like clockwork, I turn on Vermont Public Radio for the governor’s address. Sometimes my daughter takes a break from whatever high school endeavor she’s engaged in, and stops in the kitchen.

Are you actually listening? she asks.

Sometimes, raptly. Sometimes, I simply sink back into whatever email or work I’m doing. But I generally listen — and particularly listen to the commissioner of health, whom my daughters have taken to calling That Dr. Levine. Sometimes the press conference is jammed with news I’d rather not hear; the state’s unemployment rate is astronomical; Covid-19 seeped into a state prison.

But sometimes I laugh out loud — such as when Dr. Levine does a weekend shopping spot-check (although not frivolous, as he always buys an undisclosed item) and provides his estimated data about mask compliance by staff and shoppers. How much I’d love to see our state’s health commissioner standing in line with, say, a bag of oatmeal, calmly asking questions and dispersing info to fellow Vermonters.

Laugh on, daughters, but my older daughter shares that the doctors in the clinic where she works are all devoted Levine fans, too. Or maybe simply fans of adherence to science, honesty, calm in the face of despair and near panic, and steadfastness.

Here’s an article about free milk, farmers, and the Secretary of Agriculture — another reason I’m grateful to live in the Green Mountain State — despite the two inches of snow this morning.

IMG_6678

Photo by Gabriela Stanciu.

Posted in Vermont | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Melting Butter, Hot Rolls

By now, we’ve settled into a string of days, weeks, maybe months, of my work folding into my daughter’s life at home. I work; she does whatever passes for virtual high school. I drink coffee. She eats trail mix. She’s borrowed her sister’s camera, taken a few online mini classes, and then heads out.

Among the many, many strange things about this Stay Home order is that the three of us have managed to get along so well, despite my intermittent weeping woods walks. Crabby me — with my endless laptop hours — my teen who fantasizes about driving to the California coast, and her sister, age 21, who relinquished moving out, to stay with us. As a divorced parent, I don’t take getting along as any given. In all the unexpected silver linings in all of this, there’s this interesting turning inward, back to the home, when so much in our culture has pushed us outward, away from home.

Like everything, I know this time won’t last — and there are many things about it I won’t miss — the utter uncertainty of work and money, the isolation from other adults, a public world of masks and frightened eyes. But baking potato rollswith the teen? That I’m happy to do.

Instant coffee, for example, is a well–deserved punishment for being in a hurry to reach the future.

— Alan Watts

IMG_7740.jpg

Posted in Vermont | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Sun and Sunday

A Sunday of skipping the news, opening the house windows, hanging out the laundry. A brilliantly sunny day — when I put my shovel into the garden, pull weeds, and empty buckets of manure.

All afternoon, we’re in the sunlight, the grass around the garden emerald. On the other side of my garden fence, families walk in the cemetery — teens with parents, little kids running ahead, and dogs on leashes. The neighbors’ three-year-old chases last fall’s dead leaves, blowing in the merest breeze.

The girls make garlic knots for dinner, and we eat them with carrot sticks, talking, talking.

I know there’s a lesson here — about slowing down, staying home, putting your hands in the earth — a lesson that would have been much harder had the day sleeted. Sleet, too, is possible in Vermont’s May. Mostly, though, I’m grateful for the day’s rejuvenation, this bright spot to carry us along.

So this is Nebraska. A Sunday
afternoon; July. Driving along
with your hand out squeezing the air,
a meadowlark waiting on every post.

— Ted Kooser

IMG_7728.jpg

Posted in Vermont, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments