Domestic Chaos, Evening Pleasure

We’re eating pumpkin pie made with not enough maple syrup. In the scheme of things, that’s pretty darn minor. The kids, I’ve noticed, have stored the maple syrup in the cabinet above my head — which, no biggie, I could easily stand on a chair per usual and help myself. Nonetheless, why bother?

The bathtub drained is plugged, the chickens wandered on the back porch and shit, we’ve eaten brown rice for three days now and no one seems in the least interested in leftovers. It’s autumn, sometime, pretty leaves all fallen and withering.

Dusk, I walk a few loops around the high school. A flock of starlings sweeps over the sky and perches in the bare branches of a maple tree, chittering. Back at my car, my daughter and her friend are on the hood of my car, laughing at something — maybe me? — hungry. They’ve been making “guts” for a Halloween project, but ran out of red food dye to mix with their Vaseline and corn starch.

Really? I say. What’s the recipe? In the thickening gloaming, I sit on my car hood, too, listening, as if there’s all the time in the world.

…we are everything, every experience we’ve ever had, and in some of us, a lot of it translates and makes patterns, poems. But, my God, we don’t even began to touch upon it. There’s an enormous amount, but we can touch such a little.

— Ruth Stone

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Teen World

This blog has been jammed with soccer, soccer and even more soccer all fall — a little odd, from a woman who ducks every time the soccer ball heads even anywhere near me along the sidelines.

But the soccer field and the locker room and the school bus is the terrain of my teenage daughter this year. The night of the game under the lights I walked across the field afterward — in a coat and hat and scarf, the first snowflakes tiny glitters — and realized I was treading in her familiar space.

It’s such a cliché — the days crawl and the years fly — but there’s truth in all these clichés, too. When she was an infant, I realized — busy as I was then with another child and that relentless maple syrup business — that this was all I was going to get in this life. Just this second time around of being a new mother. That sentiment has carried all through her life, crazy and jumbled as it’s been, defined as a single parent household. And yet here she is, on a soccer field, laughing and happy with girls and their ponytails. I can’t help but wonder curiously, Where will all these running steps on those soccer fields around Vermont carry her in this life?

We create meanings from our unconscious interpretation of early events, and then we forge our present experiences from the meaning we’ve created. Unwittingly, we write the story of our future from narratives based on the past…

— Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts

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Time Warp

So here’s a weird thing….. not long before dusk on Sunday, I was at the (closed) Goddard College library. I was there to record a small radio piece.

Save for myself, there’s no one on campus, so I wandered around. A few years ago, the college converted to low-residency programs. The campus now — with some buildings disintegrating into moss and rot — has an odd Planet-of-the-Apes-ish feeling.

I expected to read shortly some writing about the collapsing American Empire. For a few moments there, I wondered if I’d hit a time warp…..

We are inclined to think of hunters and gatherers as poor because they don’t have anything; perhaps better to think of them for that reason as free.

Marshall Sahlins

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Away Game

Leaves drift through the air wherever I go these days, in autumn’s near-constant breeze, whooshing out of sight.

At a high school soccer game beneath lights, bundled in boots and hats, we watch the boys cheer for the girls. In the second half, the boys brush off an impending fight with a rival team. For just a moment, we wonder, Which way will this go? Overhead, Vs of geese call loudly, heading out of here, south. The scent of frying hamburgers tantalizes.

The high school’s the most run-down I’ve seen in Vermont, the field patchy, dwarfed by an enormous research facility for adult work, gleaming in the setting sun. Somehow, we have the sense the adults’ cafeteria serves up finer fare than subsidized school lunch. My daughter’s high school is one of the state’s scrappier — no secret there — but much more moves beneath the sailing soccer balls.

All the long drive home, the river swallowed up in the dark, we talk and talk and talk, passing the time and the miles, our two headlights illuminating the first traces of snow.

Home through the woods,
through the chill rain.

The last leaves down
and sodden on the ground.

The end of autumn...

—David Budbill

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Little Cabbages

While spectating my daughter’s soccer game, I surreptitiously watch a little boy dig a small hole in the frost-killed grass. He’s met a new friend, I surmise, another younger sibling, and the two of them make homes for a handful of plastic dinosaurs — nests the boys call them.

On their knees, they’re completely entranced. When the game’s over, they wander away, each to their own family.

In our garden, it’s Brussels sprout season now. Beneath the black edges, the tiny vegetables are perfectly green, tender as spring.

My favourite vegetable, without a doubt,
Is the humble, but holy, Brussels sprout.

— Angela Wybrow

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In Praise of Pie

When I came home from work, my daughter was cutting up apples on the kitchen table while her cat lay beside her on a chair, gnawing a leaf of chard from the garden. How many pies have we baked and eaten together?

Really, there’s one predominant theme in our family life — I could list reading and work, hiking, friends and so on — but eating ties us together. Haphazard as our lives may seem at times, each of us doing a slew of things, when we’re together, we cook together; we eat together.

My daughter dug into the bag of cookie cutters and stamped out a heart from the scrap dough. She pressed the heart on the center of the pie and took fork tines to the pie’s edges, crimping them prettily.

There are
other things you can do in Vermont. So goes the
rumor: like observe how the clouds thin
deceptively before blizzard, let go of yr
natural hostility & don’t accuse anyone of
running a junkyard; he’s only making
his ends meet
.

— Barbara Moraff

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Long Trail, Johnson, Vermont