March: Rejuvenation

We wake to a morning of deep cold and sun-sparkling fresh snow.

Illness has moved through my daughter; her eyes are merry again as she laughs with her sister. March 1: we’re ready to greet the remainder of the winter, the coming weeks of snow and cold that inevitably will end in mud.

These small and temporary illnesses have their place, too, pulling us inside and quieter. In a fever, I dream of a book I’m reading, how memory lies deep within our bodies. As if in a strange journey, the fever draws me into the mysteries of flesh and blood, of synapsis and neuron, and I’m a little child again, holding a paper doll. The slick paper is tangible beneath my fingertips.

The dream ends, and I’m here again, mother to two daughters who are laughing as they do math homework together.

The linear view of time may be an illusion, but it’s one I’m happy to join again, finished with illness and fever, ready for March, green, spring.

When the winter chrysanthemums go,
There’s nothing to write about
But radishes.

— Basho


Photo by Molly S./Hardwick, Vermont

Closing February

We wake to rain, the sound more reminiscent of March than April in Vermont, but not unheard of. So it begins: this back and forth marching to spring, freeze, thaw: put that on repeat.

My little cat sits at the glass door in the kitchen, staring out at the rain, dreaming of chickadees and grackles.

Likewise, my daughter gets a little better from her illness each day, the fever emptying from her. So it goes in this winter: this season when I’ve felt surrounded by so much unhappy news. Sad deaths, lost jobs, injuries. Against this, a fever looms almost welcome, as if a lesser, harmless inoculation.

Spring’s a distance away: there’s no arguing with that. But the season change looms inevitably now. Outside my library door, deep in the pebbles against the southern wall, the first green shoots press upward, tentative, persistent, resilient.



Best-Laid Plans

My daughter wakes with a fever, and so we leave her uncle’s house. No skiing on this sunny day. We head back that familiar way, through the White Mountains dazzling beneath fresh snow, the way we’ve traveled so many times, through so many years.

She’s sleeping and not sleeping, the roads nearly empty on this early Monday morning. I’ve switched the radio to Maine public radio, a steady stream of coronavirus news.

What she has is fever — miserable and simple. She’ll ache, sleep, and heal. As I drive, and the radio moves through the BBC broadcast, I remember myself as a teenager listening to Terry Gross while my father drove us home from the dentist’s office. At some undefined point, Terry Gross morphed from the most boring person in the universe to a woman who asked questions whose answers I wanted to know.

Maybe it’s nothing more than my sleeping teenager beside me not quite legally ready to drive yet — or maybe it’s just the driving time to think — but I feel utterly a parent. It’s not a cherished, dear moment (she really wanted to stay and ski) but our lives will move on. For these few hours of driving, we’re in an unbroken space. Nothing to do but keep on….