Vermont, Sometime in January

Midwinter. Need I say more?

I remember a Vermont winter when I was in my twenties where January was sub-sub-zero. 25 below zero, in what seemed like a cold snap that wouldn’t snap.

Not so, this year. Rain, slush, ice. Some sparkling skiing days.

The cats drape on the couches, dreaming of tuna perhaps, their little furry faces rubbing our hands. Midwinter is that particularly good place for work — or at least the kind of work I do, much of it at a laptop and not re-roofing a house. My daughters and I talk about swimming, of wandering in wet sand along the ocean, of ice cream cones (so dull I am, preferring vanilla), but in January that’s all imaginary…. for the moment. In a warm, well-lighted house, that’s just fine.

Let’s pull some blueberries from the freezer and make muffins — and another little silver pot of espresso, too.

So much money made
by clever temple priests
using peonies

— Issa


Here You Go. Love The Planet We’re Leaving You

My 13-year-old took part in last Friday’s Youth Climate Strike — coincidentally one of the warmest days in veritable weeks in Vermont. Since I usually work at home on Fridays, I folded up my laptop around noon and walked downtown. I met the photographer for the local paper in front of the diner, and we joked around for a bit until the students walked down from the high school.

The principal had called the parents the night before and given the heads up that this wasn’t a school event, but he let us know when the kids planned to leave. He walked down with the kids, too, and a number of teachers came, too. The Buffalo Mountain Co-op staff came out to cheer on the kids.

The kids lined up on the suspension bridge over the Lamoille River. I stood talking with my daughter’s humanities teacher and reading the kids’ signs. My favorite: The dinosaurs thought they had more time, too. The day was impeccably sunny. Some of the kids came with an intensity to talk about the climate; others simply to escape the school, take a walk, and get some vitamin D. Then the kids headed back up the hill, chatting, happy.

I can’t help but wonder: 36 years from now, when my younger daughter is my age, will she remember this day? And what will the world be like then? Contrary to the often pessimistic bend of my nature, I’m forcing myself to envision a brilliantly beautiful day, clamorous with youth, optimism, and ebullient joy in a fine March day, a gift in Vermont.


Hardwick, Vermont, middle and high school students


Evening Pause

Last night, just before dusk, I walked around gathering  the croquet mallets and put them in the barn, before the predicted rain today. My daughter came out to fold towels thrown over the railings, and we listened to geese fly overhead.

That morning, I woke remembering the fall she was a year-and-a-half, and I was frantically mailing maple syrup — as if mail-ordering maple would be a cash cow, although a very small one.

To that younger mother of myself, I think, Slow down. Decades of evenings lie ahead.

I finally take my own advice to myself. I don’t weed a patch of the garden where I’d been heading. I listen to my daughter, and then she heads out into the gloaming, on a solitary walk.

…Rich fresh wine
of June, we stagger into you smeared
with pollen, overcome as the turtle
laying her eggs in roadside sand.
From Marge Piercy’s “More Than Enough”