The Way Forward

Skiing along the former railroad bed in the late afternoon, I meet a fellow skier — a man wearing a gray knit hat who’s retired now from the local high school. In one connection or another, I’ve known him since before I became a mother.

We pause and talk for bit. He asks about my daughters, and then he opens our conversation to what’s happening in the nation’s capital. Behind him, I see the Lamoille River winding towards Lake Champlain, flowing its slow way to cross the Canadian border and head to the Atlantic Ocean.

As a complete non-sequitur, I say, The sun actually came out today.

We look at the blue sky overhead between the trees. It’s January in Vermont, and the sun’s presence is never a given here.

We talk for a few more minutes, acknowledging chaos and the pandemic, these odd days and that sun overhead — light without warmth.

Then we part ways, he to his ski, and I towards home.

But time is only another liar, so go along the wall a little further: if blackberries prove bitter there’ll be mushrooms, fairy-ring mushrooms in the grass, sweetest of all fungi.

— William Carlos Williams

Myriad Things

These summer days, I often work at home, awake and drinking coffee while the girls slumber, and the sun rises and slowly steams off the dew from our croquet patch, the garden, and the town’s rusted metal fence and cemetery beyond.

Yesterday afternoon, my daughter and I walked into the sultry town for another of my meetings at the town library. Some rouge patron had plugged up the basement plumbing, so I shopvacc’ed the cement floor while librarian lifted boxes from the spreading flood. Then we sat outside in the sunlight, nodding to patrons, while she answered my questions about the little library I manage. One patron returned three books, including the novel I’ve written. I restrained myself from quizzing, What did you think?

At home again, in the late afternoon, my daughter picked handfuls of cucumbers from our small garden. While we talked, I made a savory dinner the girls love – peppers, onions, herbs, sausage, tomatoes, rolled into bread dough, coarse-salted and rubbed with olive oil. While the bread baked, we worked in the garden, the half moon rising through crimson clouds over the peak of our house. She was chattery and happy. I love the evenings best, she said.

Poem (As the Cat)

As the cat
climbed over
the top of

the jamcloset
first the right

then the hind
stepped down

into the pit of
the empty

– Williams Carlos Williams