Sunday Sweets

Skiing through the town forest yesterday, I ducked beneath sap lines. The sugarbush there is tapped and ready for the sap to run. I’m ready, too.

For years, our family sugared, and February began weeks that turned around the season and sap flow. We had no weekend. We had no days off. So now, on Sundays, I (mostly) fold up my laptop and lean into family.

One (small) silver lining of the pandemic is the pleasure of a single donut: peach, flower, poppy seed.

Ten degrees and sunny. Perfect for ice skating.

Here

I’m here —

the snow falling.

― Issa

Little Bright Bits

A friend and I have a habit of emailing back and forth requesting send me something good. We’ve been doing this so long now that I can’t remember when we started, although I’m nearly 100% certain this began in a long Vermont winter.

Generally, we offer little bright bits — a book to share or a decent recipe. Yesterday, she emails about the rising full moon. Drivers along the County Road pulled over and took photos.

Little bits that are maybe not slight at all.

After dinner, my daughters and I bundled up against the sharp cold and went walking in the silvery moonlight. We hadn’t dressed warmly enough and shivered by the time we returned. Chattering, my girls were exuberant that winter had finally arrived in all its radiant beauty.

That gleaming round moon, the sparkling snow, a warm house: solid strands of our web.

  Barn’s burnt down 

     Now I can see 

     the moon! 

— Mizuta Masahide

Photo by Molly S./Hardwick, Vermont

Small Joys

Friday afternoon, I knock off work early and stack wood with my youngest.

She’s a far better wood stacker than I am, precise in her ends, creating long tight rows on our porch. About the only thing I have going for me is endurance; I’m determined to stack it all, on this fine sunny day — that endurance, and my utter pleasure to be working outdoors, breathing the sweet smell of sap.

She rakes the piles of bark and the slivers we’ll use for kindling, as we talk about little things, nothing much. Later, she swims with a few friends, the three happy. Seeing her happiness fills me with joy.

On the cusp of school reopening, uncertainty is palpable. Will school open for a week? A month? What kind of crazy plan is this? Like most parents, I’m wondering what’s the way forward? What’s the way to feed her desire for learning and friends — in a pandemic? Who knows?

When I set the rake back in the barn, I find our hatchet. Its head is dull and loosened, in need of repair. Years ago, ax repair would have been my husband’s purview. I hold its hardwood handle. Okay, I think. Find a different solution.

The neighbor’s cat sprawls on our woodpile, gray belly up to the sun, purring.

The cool breeze.
With all his strength
The cricket.

— Issa

IMG_8167.jpg
Photo by Gabriela S.

Mind, Cold, Beauty

17 degrees below zero this morning.

When I head out to start my daughter’s car before she heads to work, a perfect half moon is poised over our house, moonbeams glistening on our black metal roof.

Cold. But the Vermont way is to say, I’ve seen colder. I have. I will (presumably) again. Just as the body accumulates tolerance, the mind unwittingly relaxes into perspective.

But that’s the mind. As the dawn opens up, the sky bruises violet. Stars gleam. The day moves on.

It’s interesting.
Lied upon one another
The umbrellas in the snow.

— Shiki

IMG_7206

Somewhere in Vermont’s February…

Summers, the dawn is raucous with songbirds. In February, I stand outside in the dark, the cold swirling around my hands and head, hungry, hungry, it seems for my warmth. The icy snow makes the lightest tap against the kitchen window. We’re socked in by sleet and ice and snow in Vermont, the winter wrapping around us. When my daughters were little, how I chafed against those endless winter days. Now, I’m glad to be awake and working while the household sleeps. The cats have wandered downstairs for their breakfast, and curled up for their post-breakfast rest. Our house is warm; the daughters are well; the bills are paid; I have work.

Let the snow pile up. Among those many motherhood lessons is a solid carpe diem — and to log in a few more hours of work before the day drifts along….

Winter solitude—
In a world of one color
The sound of wind.

— Basho

IMG_7170

February: Light

Entirely out of keeping with the season, I’m thinking of spring. Save for houseplants, the Vermont world is entirely without a single leaf of tender green leaf — in utter hibernation — but the days are lengthening.

Groundhog’s Day holds no suspense here — that garden-eater always turns around and burrows back down for more winter. In the meantime, a spring haiku.

The spring breeze.
Being pulled by a cow
To the Zenkoji temple.

— Issa

59726909138__BF33AA8B-25A4-4628-93FC-66383F62A886