A stunning nightscape
in the absence
a bruised sky
(kelly salasin, october 2012)
The fierce winds blew early Autumn
onto the road
where she gathered
on tiny ponds,
from morning rains.
Each puddle arranged a collage–
of jeweled reds and yellows and oranges
from maple and birch and oak.
A spray of pine needles completed the work.
This is how the walk to the farm stand
became an art show,
and this is how
a middle-aged woman,
in puddle boots,
Kelly Salasin, October 2012
Yesterday I drove down my hobbled road, snow encrusted, and turned onto Route 9 for the morning commute to Brattleboro–and didn’t give it a second thought when the flow of traffic stopped, and became single lane, as if it was as natural an occurrence as the mindless speed.
I was surprised to find myself relieved rather than annoyed by the delay.
“They haven’t abandoned us,” I said to my empty car.
In this post-Irene world, road work had become the norm, and we’ve appreciated every moment of it; but then they were gone, leaving our roads were delightfully “passable,” and eerily unfinished.
Last week over a foot of snow arrived before the plow poles were anchored along the dirt roads or the guard rails finished on Route 9.
I don’t need to explain the significance of guard rails, but here’s the thing about plow poles–they show us where there is and isn’t a road. When everything is white, it’s hard to tell, particularly when what was once road, no longer is, because it was half-eaten away by water, and restored, but never fully so.
The lower half of my road is one of those. A few weeks back when they put in the temporary bridge at Neringa, someone dropped a lot of rubble on the sides of MacArthur so that the truck filled with dirt could make it to the site without toppling over. I bet the rubble is fun in a truck. Not so much in a Honda Civic.
When I can’t stomach the bumps, I take the back way to Brattleboro. It’s all dirt, and it’s slower, but it’s predictable, though the potholes are propagating and the ruts where one road meets another are deepening.
Though it’s been two months since Irene, I find myself having flashbacks on this particular day–hauntings from the night we drove home after the flood.
I can see the ghost of a car dangling into a crater near Robb Family Farm. I can see Ames Hill strewn with rocks. I can feel the fear that we might not make it.
So many roads were taken by Irene and so many still hobble. Some friends have only just had their roads repaired, while others have had repairs washed away by the rain. Stopping for a work crew, in the middle of the morning commute, is a comfort now instead of an annoyance; something I once took for granted; like the permanence of highways and country roads.
Kelly Salasin, November 2011
It’s a quintessential Vermont day, and we’re all trying to hold onto the last breaths of autumn before the big snow. The vendors at the farmers market are shivering, but they’re also grinning. The market closes today–for the season. No more waking at dawn to make egg rolls or harvest vegetables. They’ve shown up for us for the past 6 months, and now they’ll pack it up until spring comes round again.
Like a party crasher–with guests–snow is the forecast, and not just flurries. A foot. Facebook posts prematurely turn toward woodstoves and woolens, muffins and hot soup. The bloggers are stirring too. Three neighbors post at once. Jodi, about our road. Shannon, about the weather. Kevin, about… taking a dump.
To tell the truth, I’m not sure what Kevin’s post is about, and I’m not even sure I’m supposed to blow his cover. This is the first that Nature Man has “blogged” if I’m not mistaken. Mostly, he just spouts. Vitriol. Like this:
I was takin a dump the other morning while the wife had the National Pompous Radio on in the kitchen. I know, I should have got up and shut the door to the shitter, but I was mid-turd, so I had to sit there listening to them blather. They were interviewing some fellow who was a leader of something called the Tea Party. He was talkin all tough about cutting taxes and job creators and Cripes knows what else, and all I’m thinkin is, buddy, you named your group after something my daughter does with a stuffed bear and a headless Barbie doll.
Natureman suggests a KEG PARTY instead; which is where I need to be in 30 minutes. Actually it’s a cider-pressing, but there’s always beer. Do you think it’s still on? The white stuff has begun to fall.
After 18 years in these Green Mountains, summer is by far my favorite season; but when the snow comes around, like an old lover, it doesn’t matter how many times he’s been dumped, he stills turns me on.
Kelly Salasin, first snow, 2011
It is time to “put the padlock on the gate” says the notice to members of South Pond, the timeless gathering place of summer.
This is crushing news to those of us who hold onto the sun until the ice freezes our fingers, and releases them, frost by frost, until we have lost our grip on summer, and even fall.
Today’s was a hard frost, but at least the sun is shining. Yesterday, when it was mostly grey, I saw my body flinging itself off a cliff over and over again. Luckily I was in my bed, under the covers, with a novel, ignoring the coming gloom of November.
In the evening, a friend invited us to gather around a fire in the woods behind her home. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to do anything. But I did, and I was a better for it.
As the first star pieced the sky, I soaked up as much yellow and orange and red as I could from the flames inside her pit. This is our way of capturing the sun, I thought. This is our way of making it ours, until it returns again to wake the world in tender greens.
Snow is the forecast this week. Snow. There. I said it. The “S” word. (But I refuse to say the “W” word–no matter what the forecast.)
As a Vermonter of 18 years, I accept snow around Halloween, although I welcome a balmy night on which to Trick or Treat. Either is possible this time of year, as the Earth begins to rock us toward the “W” word– into that long, white slumber of deep.
Kelly Salasin, Marlboro, VT