Cash. Wood. Still Lovely July.

In my bank account appears $250 from the IRS. I could spend this money six ways to Sunday. What I do is order more firewood. For years, the only expenses we had for firewood were chainsaws and fuel, property taxes, and the our own labor.

Living in town now, I buy firewood. There’s nothing else like the wet-sap scent of freshly cut and split wood. I buy from a man who lives in the next town over. When he delivers, we have an annual check-in about what’s happening, standing beside a great pile of split wood, talking about the weather or what’s happening in Washington or sweeter things, like his baby granddaughter.

The thing about burning wood is all the steps — tree, woodpile, glowing fire and happiness, ash that I spread in my garden.

Last night, as I turned off the lights and headed upstairs, I spied one of our cats lying on the rug before the wood stove, wistfully staring. It’s sultry July, and many days off (I hope) from kneeling before the wood stove.

Hardwick, Vermont

Somewhere in Summer.

Vermont’s summer mugginess settles in, and I lie awake at night, remembering the much stickier summers of my childhood in southern New Hampshire, a thousand days of no school and bike riding and eating salted cucumber and playing Acquire with my brother and the neighbor — the ultimate game of capitalism.

But those were likely much less than a thousand days.

My youngest texts me at work. She and her friend explore different swimming holes and go hiking. Together, as new drivers, they match route numbers with roads, beginning to master maps. I worry about her — my youngest navigating the world on her own — this place of such ineffable beauty and real badness. This is the summer she’s learning the price of a tank of gas — a transaction between labor and coin. But it’s also the summer she’s beginning to realize the phrase girls travel in packs has much more meaning than looking for the women’s room.

This is the summer of phenomenal sunsets and sunsets, of studying the sky, wondering if rain might move in.

Quit counting, I counsel myself. The hot days unwind into hotter nights, but the dawn is cool, the dew lush over my toes.

Relish This

Unexpectedly, I end up with a short period of time in Montpelier, and, rather than work in the library as I once did (for years), I open my laptop on a bench. I set up beside the city’s old train roundhouse, marked now by a sign but nearly hidden under foliage.

It’s fitting, in these days of change.

In our family life, my youngest daughter’s birthday approaches. Last night, I watched my daughter and her friends laughing in the flickering campfire. What a change from last year.

In the world-at-large, the world changes, too. Our town canceled the annual Memorial Day parade, but set off fireworks at the high school. This is now, I kept reminding myself as we watched the fireworks from our yard, not a memory, but now.

The temperature sank. We wondered about frost warnings. I remembered how Peak Oil was the buzz right after this daughter’s birth. But here we are, sixteen years later, young girls on the cusp of womanhood.

Sweet, I thought as I gathered the dinner’s dirty plates. An actual potluck again. Sweet, sweet sixteen.

In the Garden…

Walking early this morning in the garden, the dew chilly over my bare feet, the thrush sings. The lilacs are opening, blossom by blossom, the deepest violet still closed tightly, not yet ready to reveal.

This is good news I remind myself. I look back at my house where our cat sits in my daughter’s bedroom window. She’s sleeping yet, a whole day of sunlight and apple blossoms yet to come.

May. Spring in Vermont. The air this morning is sweet.

Vermont Spring Palette

I leave work in the middle of the day, to take my daughter from here to there. A downpour has suddenly stopped, and sunlight sparkles over the wet world. We drive with the windows and sunroof open, the breeze blowing in. Although both girls have had Covid, and I’m vaccinated, we’re wearing masks. When won’t we be wearing masks?

The girls talk about classes, and I tune out, listening to their voices. We pass clumps of golden daffodils. On my way back to work, I drive through fields of green so brilliant I blink.

All around me, the human world feels fraught these days with chaos, both self-inflicted and not. Meanwhile, the earth pushes alive with spring. In the evening, walking up a dirt road, I look back at my daughters beneath an enormous maple, its branches still bare. Behind us, the mountains hold a deep blue. The peepers chorus, and the red-wing blackbirds sing sweetly.

It may yet snow again this week. Meanwhile, spring.

We walk up the road and down through the cedar forest, where the path is black earth. We linger so long that we walk home in the dark.

“Walking . . . is how the body measures itself against the earth.” 

— Rebecca Solnit

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