Single Summer Moment

Vermont midsummer in all its glorious stickiness. The towns empty out but for the perpetual delivery trucks and cars with canoes and kayaks on their roofs. In the post office Saturday morning, the buzz is Where are you swimming today? Where’s your spot?

In the late afternoon, we swim at Number 10 Pond, leaving our picnic and sandals on the rocky shore and swimming far out. A smattering of pollen covers the glassine surface.

I linger long in the water while my daughters laugh on shore, taking photos. Before we leave, I click a photo of my girls, too. For a brief moment, looking at this image, I realize even my youngest is just about grown up, too. Someday, I’ll look back and think, Good swimming that day.

At home, before a few sprinkles of rain, the girls pick peas for a snack. I weed and weed. The sun golds are ripe.

stream in summertime—
this joy of wading across
with sandals in hand

— Buson


Calais, Vermont, 2019

Return From Hibernation

On this unsurpassable, sunny, snow-melting April afternoon, I prop open the library door and stand on the walk. My patrons — a teenage boy, a near retirement age woman — stand there with me, the three of us collectively thinking, what the fuck?!  about this winter — as if a months-long temper tantrum has just passed by.

The school field is still a foot-rich with snow.

Later, as the evening cools, I walk through the crusty patches of remaining snow behind the house, discover there’s a patch of the garden open where I may plant my pea seeds.

I’m back in the cemetery, in my own sacred spot in this town. From the crest, I see the Dollar General with its faux brick and Woodbury Mountain, where bear live. Someone in the trailer park nearly concealed in a hollow is burning something, and smoke rings the mountain’s base. Overhead, a hawk catches an air current so fine the raptor sails out of my sight without a single flap of its wing.

The world? Moonlit
Drops shaken
From the crane’s bill.

— Eihei Dōgen


spring kid crafts

Birdsong, Mortality

Where the fields have opened up, robins flock in the trees, singing the melodies that always remind me of spring’s running water — icy cold and much welcomed, harbingers of green. These are the first flocks we’ve seen this year, and we’re doing what I’ve done with this daughter since she was a little one on my back — we’re searching out robins, these beloved spring birds.

Same activity, different backroad. We’ve moved towns and houses, and so tinged through all of this cusp-of-adolescence for this girl is both the headiness of new experiences threaded through with loss. Impermanence, I remind myself over and over, sometimes daily, is the ticket price for all of us, even these little palm-sized birdies, the fat earthworms they’re devouring, and the stones in the fields, gradually giving up their edges to the elements.

We stop for a moment and talk about the dirt road behind our boots, the shape of its crown in the middle. Birdsong, wind, running streams. The fields are so wide open here we glimpse a herd of deer at the distant crest, just a quicksilver moment as they rush across the ridge and vanish again.

My daughter, humoring me, hungry for her late dinner, asks me, Are you actually talking to those robins?

Oh, that thin scrim between mind, body, landscape….

The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.

— Alan Watts


Hardwick, Vermont