Mighty Wildflowers

Blue squill reappears in our front yard and over the hill behind our house, in the thickets of wild raspberry canes — tiny flowers that sprinkle color in our landscape that is otherwise brown dirt and gray mountain.

In the rough patches of roadsides and rocky ditches, coltsfoot springs up. Along the brick school gymnasium, I discover blooming dandelions.

These tiny flowers, some no larger than my thumbnail, are mighty tough. There’s a lesson here, I know, as I crouch in that tangle of thorny vines, admiring a clump of starflowers. That lesson might be as simple as the determination of the world’s beauty. Who planted these flowers, I don’t know. But every spring I’m grateful for that gardener who lived here and who so loved these spring gems.

The first of a year’s abundance of dandelions

in this single kernel of bright yellow

dropped on our path by the sun, sensing

that we might need some marker to help us

find our way through life…

— Ted Kooser, “Dandelion”

Spring

The temperature weirdly shoots up to 70 degrees. 70 degrees in Vermont in early April! For anyone who doesn’t live here, know that this warm, daffodil-growing weather makes our world a communally happy place.

While my daughter plays soccer, I take a walk, then spread out my work on a picnic table. Three geese fly overhead, making a honking racket. On the other side of a school building, I hear the kids laugh. Two dads roll up on bikes and stand in the parking lot, chatting.

Another parent I haven’t seen for a long time appears and stands at a distance. We talk and talk, about how our work has changed, and what’s happening with our kids, and even more, about each of us might want this summer — happiness, in some small way. Listening, I think, of all the many things we’ve learned this year, surely valuing the connection between us rises high. How little that might seem, and how infinitely valuable.

My daughter returns with a blister. At home, the carpenter has just finished repairing the porch railings broken by falling ice. We stand for a bit, talking and waving at early mosquitoes. He admires the view of the village below us and asks how I like living beside a cemetery. I like it just fine, I tell him.

Don’t talk to me about the stars, about how cold and indifferent they are, about the unimaginable distances. There are millions of stars within us that are just as far, and people like me sometimes burn up a whole life trying to reach them.

— Ted Kooser

Spring Dreaming

At bedtime, my daughter calls me into her room and asks me to listen. The prayer flags strung over our back porch are flapping fiercely in the wind. I tell her that’s the point. The wind chimes from my sister are jingling, too. The wind strengthens.

This morning, stepping out, the air is warm in a way I haven’t felt in a very long time. The back of winter might not have been broken yet, but it’s getting there, breath by breath. This is a hard point of Vermont’s winter, when the snow and cold have lingered past their welcome, and our green summer world appears as an illusion. Last year, so many people I knew flew to Florida or Mexico. This year, hardly anyone I know has flown for pleasure.

Our back porch remains that wreckage of clumped ice and broken railing. Yesterday afternoon, my daughter stood in her t-shirt and boots, a hatchet in one hand she used to chop that ice. She suggested digging a swimming pool behind the porch next summer. I mused about a flower garden.

We mutually agreed to plant grapes along the barn, our tiny version of a vineyard.

Flying at Night

Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us, 
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death, 
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas, 
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like his.

Ted Kooser
Published in “Flying at Night”