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



End of the day, in the gloaming, I’m running up the road. A little bit of snow is falling, and — dare I write this in December? — it’s just nice. That sweet, snowglobe kind of beauty.

In not so many minutes, I know I’ll need to get off this somewhat slippery and icy road before a pickup turns a bend a bit too quickly, its driver maybe distracted by the same things I am, the enchanting serenity of these maples, this field, the light funneling down over the horizon.

I know, too, as I start cooking dinner that I’ll listen to VPR. My listening, or not, has absolutely zero bearing on congressional hearings. I’ll be irked. And yet, I’ll listen, if for no other reason to participate in the dinner conversation at our house.

For for these few moments, though, I revel in the sky, the snow, the crows in the distance flying home, too.

Surely by now there can be few here who still believe the purpose of government is to protect us from the destructive activities of corporations. At last most of us must understand that the opposite is true: that the primary purpose of government is to protect those who run the economy from the outrage of injured citizens.

Derrick Jensen


Hardwick, Vermont

The Mind of Winter

Poet Wallace Stevens wrote: One must have a mind of winter/To regard the frost and the boughs/Of the pine-trees crusted with snow.

In northern Vermont — thus far — the winter has been cold and dark and ice, scant on snow. When the sun is out, we lift our faces, as if our bare cheeks can gather the light like June’s strawberries in our hands.

The mind of winter is the Vermonter’s mind, for sure, for sure — slipping away in the swimming and gardening season, returning in late fall.

Each of us in my house is sunk into work and school in ways that seem particularly pleasant — at this time. Keep the house warm, the cats and kids fed, and walk under the stars at night.


Barr Hill, Greensboro, Vermont

Rain, Sleet, Snow, Silence

Third snow day, and it’s only November. Driving from one side of the state to another, I travel through a landscape of gray — pavement, mountain — flanked by icy trees in that always questionable terrain around Bolton.

Then — the lake. I’m late already to work, with a list of things I absolutely want to do that day, check off, simply be finished with. But I turn around anyway, find a parking space and put an actual nickel in the meter, hoping no reader will be walking by in this snowy day.

The rain by then has turned to lacy snowflakes, the perfect kind for a child to lean back her head and open her mouth to catch a flake on her tongue. There’s no one out at all along the lake — improbably not even the dog walkers. Just all that snow, for just that moment.

A cessation.
You’re not searching.
How nice it is tonight.
Two birds fell asleep in your pocket.

— Yannis Ritsos