So Much Water.

In the chilly August evening, my friend and I swim after dinner, while our families kick sand on the beach. We swim into the sunset, and I’m on the verge of shivering before we hit the ropes that mark off the swimming area.

When we return, the beach has been emptied of everyone except our families, and a little girl who wanders, eating from a bag of potato chips while her mother reads a tablet. The breeze raises goosebumps on my skin, and I pull clothes over my wet swimming suit.

I ride home with my youngest, the seat warmer toasty, the car’s windows filled with the sunset’s iridescent strawberry.

She wants me to trust her driving. Because I am me, I feel all around us the coldness of autumn creeping in, and how that cold whispers its own story. This evening, though, I lean back in her car, my bare feet shedding sand on her floor, and let her drive.

A half moon rises over the hillside, the pearl color of shell’s interior.

Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?”

— Jack Kerouac
Greensboro, VT

Sweet August…

August. On a run after work, I remind myself August would be a good month to step away from work and the revolving paddlewheel of our daily lives. I’ve pretty much always failed at vacations, but I fold that idea somewhere away in my memory. As I walk home and cut across a little league field, I have a sudden memory of eating grass as a young child. I remember pulling long, slightly sharp-edged blades and nibbling on these, like a goat or a cow, eating straight from the earth.

In my garden, green beans are fattening on the vines in force. We eat those in the sunlight, straight from the vine. Cucumbers. Tomatoes. Wild blackberries and the few lingering raspberries we’ll find as stragglers for weeks yet.

August is good eating.

And a few lines from poet Hayden Carruth…

“The sky

is hot dark summer, neither

moon nor stars, air unstirring,

darkness complete; and the brook

sounds low, a discourse fumbling

among obstinate stones…”

— Hayden Carruth, “August First”

Burlington, Vermont

August

Sunday morning finds us walking in the rain on Nature Conservancy property — a place I’ve visited for over two decades now. We meet another couple walking a small pug. Other than that, no one other than cows.

We walk along old farm roads, flanked by towering maples, looking for wild raspberries. The rain warms into a humid mist.

Immense maple, white quartz, rusting barbed wire fences, myriad shades of green. Here’s where we are, and nowhere else.

At home, the garden has grown half-wild, the cosmos taller than my head. That evening, eating sausage and onions and peppers, we sit outside, talking. Even for the teenager, everything drops away — maybe school? maybe soccer practice? — as the warm August evening slowly pushes in.

A crescent moon lights the sky over our house. My oldest yawns. There’s nothing else but this moment.

The oak tree:
not interested
in cherry blossoms.

— Basho

Random Evening

After dinner, I suggest walking to the post office with the mail that needs to go out.

My 15-year-olds says hopefully, Drive?

I’d rather not. I rather walk by the food pantry and admire their stunning flower garden before this season’s blossoms fade, but I say sure. For a few more months, she can’t drive without me.

There’s hardly anyone out this evening, as she drives to the post office, then up to the high school where she parks, and we laugh, and we walk around the building. The school’s been closed for months now. Weeds from the front flowerbed spread across the cement walkway.

There’s no one around. A heron wings across the sky.

At the parking lot’s exit, she brakes and asks me, Which way?

You’re driving, I answer.

She turns away from home.

As she drives, I think of that old cliché, that having small children brings you into the hear-and-now. Same for the pandemic, I suppose. She circles through town and stops at the community gardens, where I get out and admire the raised beds.

Each of these days is a kind of bouquet — filled with work and exhaustion, with garden picking and wood stacking, with my daughter’s wondering, Will soccer really begin this Monday?, with our little family, sometimes getting along, sometimes out of sorts, but always pulling together in one way or another.

As she drives, I think of history and all the hard, hard times people have endured. The future lies before us, a great unknown, and yet, each day, this daughter edges one day closer to her own womanhood.

She pulled over to the side of the road, parks, and get out. Look at the sky, she says. She snaps a photo, making a memory of these days.

Photo by Gabriela S.