Often after the new year, the cold hammers down in Vermont, like a nail gun, sealing the human world except for well-bundled expeditions. The coldest I’ve seen is 40 below zero; mist moved ghost-like over the river, creeping over the icy banks like a strange memory.
This year, what small amount of snow we have is often soft, and the air during the day often thaws and carries the scent of water.
It’s an illusion, I know, to imagine that anything but a long, long winter lies ahead of us. But still, yesterday when I left work, I mentioned to a coworker that it was nearly five and day still lingered.
For a just a moment, we stood there with car keys in our hands, reveling at the light.
These December days are so cold the air is smoky with a mist that can’t melt. Daylight is scant.
Walking up Main Street in Greensboro, my boot heels kicking clumps of road salt, I detour to the public beach, scene of so many summer hours of pleasure.
In the otherwise empty parking lot, two pickup trucks are parked side by side, drivers’ windows rolled down, a cloud of cigarette smoke motionless between them.
December narrows us down and opens us up; we relish the pleasure of our warm, well-lit houses, the bowl of steaming noodles, our cats and our library books. And yet the cold appears to ripple endlessly, infinitely beyond the frozen lake and mountains. The winter night sky dwarfs us. We’re but tiny stars ourselves, on this icy landscape.
Day by day we’re spinning towards the solstice.
Winter solitude– in a world of one color the sound of wind.
Perhaps in no little part due to my hammered-up lower jaw, I let the holidays simply unroll (albeit with some effort before).
Here’s a scruffy shot of my brother cooking Christmas dinner, while I shiver, and we talk about Marx’s assertion that people make their own history but not in self-selected circumstances, family camping trips and the collapse of the American Empire.
Afterwards, he hung up his beer cans on the line with clothespins. That’s some quality family time.
Winter solitude —
in a world of one color
the sound of wind.
These days are nearly feverish — too hot or bordering cold.
Driving home from soccer, my daughter sets her feet on the dashboard and rubs IcyHot on her shin. The car fills with the medicinal scent of mint. She and her sister laugh and laugh, the older daughter sharing stories of work: You can’t make this up, it’s so crazy….
Nearly a year ago, the younger daughter was plagued with nosebleeds. One evening, frightened, I called the ER and spoke to a nurse, who thought nosebleeds were no particular big deal. Chastened, I took his word. The nosebleeds stopped.
Autumn is the season of trees, green turning to gold. Walking home in the dark last night, I cut up through the trailer park where the Milky Way sprawled over the sky, then turned into the woods where I could hardly see my way. The scent of wet soil rose up through the leaves, and I pushed on.
Many things of the past
Are brought to my mind,
As I stand in the garden
Staring at a cherry tree.
Here’s the piece I wrote for State 14 about the Youth Climate Strike.
My daughter, up late, says, I’m going out to look at the moonrise.
One long skinny band of cloud bends across the nightsky, luminescent with moonlight. The moon rises amber.
My daughter runs into the house for her sister. The three of us walk over the dewy grass. The world is in complete, beautiful repose, with the just-past-full moon silently rising, peepers gently murmuring, the cats in an open window watching, their little heads bent together, and all around us the fragrance of lilacs.
All winter, I’ve wondered about these lilacs — and here they bloom, better than I ever could have imagined.
The night beauty is so expansively calm it’s the best birthday present I could have desired for this turning-13 girl — an enchanting embrace from the universe cupping our home.
And then we go in to sleep.
Dead my old fine hopes
And dry my dreaming but still…
Iris, blue each spring