Hey? Where’d I Park the Honda?

Not far from our house, a few months ago the neighbors parked an old Honda, circa 1990s, right along the road beside their house, and after the last storm, the Honda completely disappeared in the snow. Between the roof shedding snow and the work of the town plows, only a massive snow bank remained.

This week, the upper edge of the car’s roof returned. I noticed a window in the backseat had been left unrolled, just an inch.

In a weird kind of way, I’m keeping my tabs on the Honda, just out of sheer curiosity or what my kids would call nosiness. I’m pretty darn sure I’m not the only one in the neighborhood who’s interested to see how this story evolves. What’s the plan?

This week, we’ve had a mighty snowfall, a full day of rain, freezing rain, miserable cold, t-shirt balminess. Yesterday morning, I worked at our sunny kitchen table all morning while the cats slept on chairs beside me; in the afternoon, snow squalls surrounded the kids walking home from school.

In our domestic life, we’ve tears, laughter, and rage.

Yesterday afternoon, while the 13-year-olds baked chocolate chip cookies, their snowy clothes hung up to dry, I walked in the blue-hued twilight. And there it was — millions of snowflakes falling, utterly silent, from an origin unknown, steadily going about the work and beauty of winter.


Wet Wool Memory

I buy my daughter a pomegranate, because she loves the fruit, because of the red it brings to our snowy Vermont landscape, and because Saroyan wrote about pomegranates. My parents did not buy pomegranates. As a kid growing up in New Hampshire, I wondered about that mysterious fruit — much like I wondered about Turkish Delight, the Narina sweet my father found in Ann Arbor and bought for us with great joy.

On a snowy day, the girls discover a coolant leak in my car. The mechanic who fixes the leak explains to my teenage daughter what the level of coolant should be in a car, when to add coolant, and when to worry. Standing between the two of them, I study his unzipped Carhartt jacket, stained with motor oil. Like Proust’s madeleine, so much of my past was redolent with wet and snowy clothes, work and words twined together.

Like that, then, the past’s gone. The girls and I stand outside the garage in a snowstorm again. I tell my older daughter as I always do, drive carefully. Laughing, they’re off again.

From one of my mentors, poet Ruth Stone:

Yes, 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.



Studded Snows

What’s the one thing that makes Vermont winters survivable? Friends? Laughter? Knitting? A chicken roasting in the oven? Nope: snow tires.

Driving to Burlington on a snowy Sunday morning to interview a young poet, I kept thinking, At least I bought new snow tires. When my daughter disappears in the darkness to work, I think, I’m so glad I shelled out for those tires.

On my way home through the Calais back roads, I pull over at the town hall, a beautiful and somewhat mysterious building to me — why is it here? what’s the history that’s now disappeared around this building? I’ve been listening to NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and laughing so hard I’m actually crying.

Outside my little Toyota, I’m immediately reminded of winter’s enchanting beauty, the bit of wind on my cheeks and the snowflakes in my eyelashes. Sunday afternoon, and no one’s out and about, save for one  grownup far down the road, walking a dog. Leaving my car at the roadside, I walk down to the meeting house and stand there, staring up at the steeple in the gauzy snow, listening. Then I put those snow tires to use again.

Winter seclusion —
Listening, that evening,
To the rain in the mountain.

— Issa