Signpost

Earth Day gives us snow in Vermont, that poor man’s fertilizer.

In a lightly falling snow, I lean against a school building, talking on the phone to my brother while my daughter plays soccer. Snow drifts in flakes about the size of a nickel, some melting on the pavement, others accumulating on tree branches and the toe of my boot.

The phone connection is stunningly clear — a surprise in rural Vermont.

As the snow falls, we wonder at the happenstance of circumstances — how the fall of a family member might have gone disastrously awry. Our conversation wanders beyond that, to the Chauvin trial, and the bystanders on that terrible day who, by happenstance, were present, and the teenage girl who pulled out her phone and shared her witness’s eyes with the world.

We’re in no hurry to hang up, and my brother suggests that, if Washington D. C. achieves statehood, the flag’s tidy stars will be kicked out of kilter. Vermont should succeed, he says.

After I hang up, I lean against that wooden wall. A fat robin lands in the snow, seeking a worm. My daughter and two friends walk across the parking lot, laughing, their braided hair damp with melted snow, their cheeks and bare knees bright red. It’s spring.