Postcard From the Edge of Snowland

10 degrees out when I head to the post office. In a sort of collective ah, screw it to concerns about global warming, many of the cars around town simply keep running—some, no doubt, to keep drivers’ toes warmish, others simply to maintain juice running through the battery.

Home with a cold, my daughter spreads out her photos that arrived in the post office box this morning. Despite my ontological hesitations about linear time, she strings together her memories. When did we go to Burton Island? Prince Edward Island?

On the couch, drinking coffee beside the sleeping cats, I keep writing cheerful pieces about spring—paid work for a family magazine—encouraging folks to get out. I believe in these things, and I’m glad for the work. I’m particularly happy for this work on days when I need to be home, in my ratty jeans with soup bubbling on the stove.

But spring? Daffodils? Lying on the grass between the blueberry bushes?

Possible. But not all that probable.

Unless, of course, my kid is right, that time is linear, and we’re not trapped forever in this vortex of midwinter.

…..and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain — not a single
answer has been found –
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.

— Mary Oliver

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Cobweb Sweeping

When my daughters suggest a Saturday afternoon skiing with me, I’m immersed in that eternal list of must do, must do, as if the universe’s spin depended on my crossing out whatever rises next on the list.

Maybe I’m simply utterly annoyed at another half day of work I’ll lose again next week — no doubt in vain — seeking child support. But goodness, both teenagers want to cross country ski with me. The younger girl skies ahead, and then loops back. We ski through the woods and over streams, and then a long slow uphill through open fields. We can see all the way to Creek Road, where the bare branches of roadside maples link the sky to the snow-covered earth. Stripping off hats, sweaty, I remember again why I love Vermont’s stark and signified winter beauty, why I love Vermont’s patchwork of small farm and wild forest, why I was certain at 18 that Vermont was the place for me to live.

We ski all afternoon, passing by where our friends once lived, old farmhouse of such merriment. My older daughter talks and talks, about work and about love. At home, we cook dinner together, our cheeks beaming red with cold and happiness.

Pare Everything Down to Almost Nothing

then cut the rest,
and you’ve got
the poem
I’m trying to write.

David Budbill

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Photo by Molly S.

Why I hate FB

I’ve often told my daughters writers are thieves, filching stories that are not theirs and writing tales in ways that may or may not be to their participants’ liking. No secret here, but writers are not known as the most morally exemplary of human lives.

But thievery has many facets.

A thief or thieves stole my daughter’s snow tires from our barn, stacked against the back wall beneath a ladder. The hide-and-seek playing kids noticed the tires’ absence. We’ve endured numerous break-ins at our former house, and so the emotional blow is lesser now, but nonetheless, did the thief know these tires were a gift to my 18-year-old? That I had bought them after considerable deliberation, after forking over a chunk of a month’s income, that I had desired to give this inexperienced driver every advantage possible on Vermont’s snowy roads? That I knew she had to go to school and work, and yet I wanted her, always, to return safely home?

I’m quite sure (or maybe this is now wishful territory) that if the thief knew my long-limbed and beloved daughter, that theft would not have happened.

Here’s why I hate Facebook – here’s why I hate everything contributing to our society’s tendency to pretend it’s all good: while we often act as though we’re images we can manipulate with filters and photoshopping, our actions affect other people, even if we willfully chose not to see that result.

Here’s hoping as a writer I respect the whole dynamic range of stories – good, bad, and in-between. Here’s hoping my own soul isn’t irreparably stained. And here’s hoping those tires make their way to some other young person’s car this winter and roll that driver safely home.

To steal from a brother or sister is evil. To not steal from the institutions that are the pillars of the Pig Empire is equally immoral.

Abbie Hoffman, Steal This Book

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Here.

In the internet world, hardly anyone ever writes where they live. Who claims to be from Maple Falls, Washington? Or Ivy, Virginia? On my hillside, in West Woodbury, Vermont, the trilliums have pushed up but are folded over, awaiting warmth to spread their velvety petals. This afternoon, the sun shines undiluted, while the maples host those raucous robins.

In this April’s Poetry Month, I’ve heard Vermont poets read about desire and loss and joy, and about drinking cold sap, cedar waxwings huddled in a snowstorm, hand-churned ice cream, lost rings….

All this violence: wars and cruelties…
now as always
back to the beginning of time….

Yet and still every day the sun rises,
white clouds roll across the sky,
vegetables get planted and grow,
and late in the afternoon someone
sits quietly with a cup of tea.

– David Budbill, “Little Poem Written at Five O’Clock in the Morning”

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Woodbury, Vermont, April afternoon