In Plainfield, Vermont, my daughter and I start up a wide hiking road, after a discussion about why I so frequently fail to read directions — and yet, as I pointed out, I generally arrive where I’ve planned to go. This is not an abstract, metaphorical conversation. The truth is, I’ve taken the Gazetteer out of the car, failed to print directions, and my daughter — with her adolescent orientation to cartography — navigated by cell phone to the trail head.
Amicably, we’re walking up this wood-flanked, pleasant road, when I have the strangest sensation that I’ve hiked this path, many times, although I know I’ve never been here.
My daughter’s ahead, around a bend in the forest, when a warbler lands on a slender branch near my face, its chest flame-gold, so stunningly beautiful I simply stand there, alone. A second, then a third, fluttered by. Later, Peterson’s guide indicates this is the Blackburnian warbler, fairly common.
The mystery of déjà vu and extraordinary fiery feathers.
O bush warblers!
Now you’ve shit all over
my rice cake on the porch
My younger daughter told me a story last night of a dream she had years ago where a stranger appeared. Months later, she was studying someone she had just met, and she realized that man was the stranger. How was that? she asked. My dream was the past and the future….. She was mesmerized.
Today, the first of the snow, just a sprinkle, like a white variation of the cinnamon I spilled over my sweater at the co-op this afternoon. The first of the snow signals the settling in of the long, long season, and yet, the first flakes are always breathtaking, always brief and fleeting, and always stunningly lovely. It’s that same deja vu, back in the beginning of winter again, the days dim and short, the children bickering or not bickering, the hearth glowing….
The boy and the dog
Stand in stillness on the waiting road.
Night’s embrace cloaks them in darkness
no less than invisibility.
They face north
And feel the first cobweb kiss of snowflakes
Borne on feathered air.
He will always remember this;
The boy, with his dog,