How many weeks are we into the Stay Home order? Thursday, I let my daughter cut my hair in the kitchen. Delighted, she made her first snip in the back and said, Whoops.
What does it matter, anyway? It’s just hair.
In the evenings, we walk up a nearby dirt road, seeking the sunset. Hardly anyone is out — a few passing pickups, often with a driver wearing a mask. Nearly every night, we see deer in the hayfields that are greening, bit by bit.
Today, kayaking, we saw a bald eagle in a white pine. We paused, watching as the eagle dove over the shallow end, flashing its enormous wingspan above a family of swimming ducks, then swept back into the tree.
One thing I’ll remember most about this time — and perhaps most fondly — are the endless walks. No complaints, because why bother? This is where we are now.
Already the first branch-tips brush at the window.
Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life.
April 1. 19 years ago we had a such a large snowstorm that we had to carry our 2-year-old daughter outside. The snow was too deep for her to walk until we had shoveled paths from doors to driveway to woodpile.
Not so, this year. Only patches of snow remain. No longer needing winter boots, I walk behind my thawing garden and through the cemetery, where last year’s faded plastic flowers push up through remains of ice, behind the abandoned playground and empty school. The town is closed up, too, the food co-op staff barricaded behind locked doors — phone in your orders — no one lingers in the post office, the sidewalks are empty.
April will bring chattering peepers, spring ephemerals, the tiny blue squill around our house. Like those long, long winters, this isolation will pass, too, inevitably. Who knows what lies on the other side — what May 1 will bring — but greenery is certain.
Tender shoots of garden peas.
Flocks of migrating songbirds in warming skies.
The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
— Robert Frost
On a sunny and breezy Friday afternoon, the Transfer Station Guys assure me the back of winter is broke. Their weatherman — who’s never wrong — told snowmobilers and skiers to put a fork in winter. It’s about done in.
I’m on my way from here to there, later changing out of the mud boots I’d worn to the dump, switching to shoes on a sidewalk. A log truck driver, seeing me in sock feet, raises one hand in a thumbs up.
Later, picking up my daughter around five at the high school, the grownups stand around chatting while the kids scale the enormous, dirt-blackened snowbanks flanking the parking lot.
Redwing blackbirds are singing: oh, sweet harbingers of spring.
We wake to rain, the sound more reminiscent of March than April in Vermont, but not unheard of. So it begins: this back and forth marching to spring, freeze, thaw: put that on repeat.
My little cat sits at the glass door in the kitchen, staring out at the rain, dreaming of chickadees and grackles.
Likewise, my daughter gets a little better from her illness each day, the fever emptying from her. So it goes in this winter: this season when I’ve felt surrounded by so much unhappy news. Sad deaths, lost jobs, injuries. Against this, a fever looms almost welcome, as if a lesser, harmless inoculation.
Spring’s a distance away: there’s no arguing with that. But the season change looms inevitably now. Outside my library door, deep in the pebbles against the southern wall, the first green shoots press upward, tentative, persistent, resilient.
On this spongy, springy April day, may Fortuna smile a little more warmly on northern Vermont…..
With good reason, the ancients revered the fearsome goddess Fortuna, out of a sense that the sovereign powers of this world were ultimately capricious.
— Kyle Harper, The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire
Behind a building in Burlington along Lake Champlain, with a ripe scent of eau de sewage, what did I hear in a nearby maple tree? Singing blackbirds!
I tossed my laptop and coat in my Toyota, covering the windshield scraper on the carseat, and walked along the icy and slushy parking. In the late afternoon, I stood beneath that tree. In the tree’s tiptop bare branches, the blackbirds gazed out at the lake, busily harmonizing.
A woman walked by with her down jacket zipped to her knees, hood tight over her head, walking a dog in a sweater. Time to unzip, let in a little sunshine, live a little.
Until the next ice storm.
“Mockingbirds” by Mary Oliver
in the green field
were spinning and tossing
the white ribbons
of their songs
into the air.
I had nothing
better to do