In Vermont, winter has begun in earnest. My daughters ski in snow-and-freezing rain, then return home to sprawl around the wood stove with hot chocolate and homework. The red tulip bulbs I planted last autumn seem like a dream.
I carry the compost out, and a cold wind rushes over my potato patch.
My daughter makes toast this morning before heading to work in the bitter dark. I remember the winter she was four, and I baked a red velvet cake with her, to brighten our world. Little things, I remind her, are the stuff of our bigger lives. Day by day, towards spring ephemerals.
…. you who want to grasp the heart
Of things, hungry to know where meaning
Lies. Taste what you hold in your hands: onion-juice….
Way back in the last century, when I first moved to Vermont as a young woman, my then-boyfriend and I drove in the middle of one night to Boston. We passed through tiny Massachusetts town after town, shuttered up and dark for the night. As our old Toyota hurried through, I wondered who lived there. At two in the morning, hardly anyone but a parent with a crying baby is awake.
Walking downtown last night, while my daughters wash our dinner dishes, I marvel how the pandemic seems to have placed us in a very long 2 a.m. In the dark, I pass a single masked person. Treading carefully on the ice, we each half-raise a hand, a human version of ships passing in the night.
This morning, my neighbors’ lights are off. Last year, with their youngest, their house lights glowed at all hours. Now, at 6 a.m., the house remains shrouded in the darkness of sleep. And so it goes, I remind myself, night always yields to dawn.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.
Every year at at this point in the summer – just about at the end – I have an almost insatiable desire to lie down and take a nap. Between work, kids home from school, and trying to cram in as much warm weather happiness as possible (like an evening swim), the days arc all the way through dusk, and the nights, so long in winter, are still brief.
I’m not complaining; black winter nights will press in soon enough, and we’re still in the rowdy cricket circus.
Today, visiting High Mowing Seeds, my daughter and I walked through fields of all-sized sunflowers, happy marigolds, delicately fragrant sweet peas in shades from pale pink to nearly black. This is Vermont’s summer apex: parents worn out, surrounded by unsurpassable beauty.
You got to understand: here
Winter stays six months a year—
Mean, mean winters and too long.
Ninety days is what we get, just