oh restless moon
or better still
seed in me
everything I wish
oh restless moon
or better still
seed in me
everything I wish
On Saturday, we had one exquisite hour of hope: the sun shined and the temperatures rose above freezing for the first time in way too long of a time.
Everyone (and I mean, everyone) abandoned their snow encrusted homes on the hill and ventured forth to points east and south.
We were among those souls, stopping in town for provisions: the library, the pharmacy, the grocery store–and coming across handfuls of neighbors moving from place to place. We were like a village of ants. Not so much joyful or even relieved, as we were urgent about capturing this moment.
The clouds moved in later that afternoon, as did the rain, but before then we made our way further south, heading to a place with less snow and a larger art museum, where we came across yet another handful of neighbors who had done the same.
Then came Sunday. Frozen and cloudy and winter all over again. I checked the weather: more of the same on Monday. I re-read my daily inspiration: “Be in a devotional relationship with your body,” and I hatched a plan to do just that.
Monday came in dark and cold and heavy, but I followed through with devotion.
I headed south, alone, in my car, with my backpack and my journal.
I’d been to the Butterfly Conservatory at least once every winter before, but this time would be different. I wouldn’t just stroll through and then depart. I would stick.
I spent 3 hours on the same bench among the butterflies and the flowers and the warm moist air.
I sat. I drew. I read. I wrote. I even napped.
There was the sound of water. Of toddlers toddling. Of birds peeping.
There were scents of life unfolding.
And there was fluttering.
Constant fluttering of magic, color and wonder.
And then it was Tuesday. Today. Brilliantly sunny. Still frozen, but with temperatures climbing, promising true spring.
“POSTED!” I say, with an exhale of…
Followed by a flip
of my stomach.
Not so easy, I remember.
Like any birth, first comes
And like any labor, we can’t be sure how
it will last.
it will feel.
How filled with complications
it will be.
In Vermont that labor is called
And it lasts longer than any labor,
so long that it really is a “season,” apart from the others
spanning weeks or crossing over into a second month.
Every year, we consider a truck.
We can’t afford one.
But it’s a necessity, we sigh.
Until it’s over.
And then, like any mother,
with a newborn in her arms,
Spring returns, and we swoon.
the smell of rain
the smell of
Hugs between friends last a bit longer this time of year; while caffeine and chocolate consumption climbs. It’s not winter. It’s the in between time. The waiting. The last foot of snow. The slow melt.
Those of us who can’t leave, head east to Brattleboro, where a 10 mile difference makes for grass. Like winter refugees, we soak up their signs of spring; our lives held hostage by a hill. By mud. By a home. By a family to whom we’re expected to return, and to make dinner and small talk; when what we really want to do is drive south. And never stop.
(I can’t go. I can’t go. I can’t. Right? Even if friends post beach weather just 300 miles away. )
My husband suggests that I work down in Brattleboro this week. “It’s supposed to be sixties in town,” he says. “It will only make it to about 50 up here.”
I add another piece of wood to the stove and try to settle in with a cup of tea; but my mind is as itchy and inflamed as my skin; desperate to shed winter’s wool.
I look outside and note the increasing signs–the green cap of the septic tank, the garden beds, the dry patches of dead grass–indicating land in what has been a sea of snow. Despite this welcome melting, winter continues to trump spring; white beats brown; and my glass is half-empty, and leaking.
“Why don’t we go down to Brattleboro now,” my husband says.
Though it sounds like a booby prize to the beach, I reluctantly get dressed so that he and I can walk the streets downtown, without boots, and drift into shops, and join an event at the River Garden center which sits on the Connecticut and has a glass roof that lets in lots of light.
There we find live music and hot chai and loads of desserts and fellow refugees from up the hill. I hug one too long, as if holding on; and then I dash back toward the front entrance. Toward a sudden and unexpected rain. Not rain on snow which is a sad, sad thing. But rain on earth. And rain on roads. And rain on sidewalks and rooftops–and us.
Just as the sky really lets loose, the sun bursts onto the scene–with a rainbow–stretching across the Connecticut and touching down at the foot of Mt. Wantastiquet. People flock out the back exit onto the deck to see the promise of color; because even though Brattleboro has lost its snow, it is stalled in monochrome.
One man turns toward me, beaming, noting the sweet smell.
“Don’t you love it,” I say, restraining myself from embracing him.
“I smelled it this morning too,” he continues. “Up at our place where there’s still a foot of snow.”
“Two feet,” his wife counters.
“But it smelled like rain, even without earth,” he says.
I smile. And sniff. And consider the different scents that come with rain; and wonder if it has its own.
I walk back to the front entrance and smell the sidewalks and the road. I return to the deck and smell the wood and the earth and the river. I finish back at the road and stay there awhile because it takes me to my childhood. To rain on hot tar in Virginia. Lying face down in the road so that I could soak up every ounce of that delicious, fresh scent before the sun smoked it away.
We linger past the rain, and into the evening at the River Garden, and when we finally head home, into the hills of snow, I feel freer. I decide to stay put. To be here to bear witness to my own spring’s emergence–to the return of our very first Robin; and even more beholding–to the appearance of a baseball–tribute to the life once lived–right here–where it shall return again.
Kelly Salasin, Marlboro, VT, April 8, 2013
mud makes for quiet roads
grownups engaged in child’s play
Kelly Salasin, last day of winter, 2012
A few years back my family and I rented a house atop of Cow Path Forty–What a winter! It seemed to snow more in March that year than it did all season. We watched as the plow piles in our driveway reached alarming heights. And then it all began to melt…
Each day was another adventure as we maneuvered our way up and down our road, dodging the deepest of ruts. We thought a lot about cows and demolition derbies, but nothing encouraged us more than the discovery made one day at the crest of our hill:
a large sunshine-colored pinwheel was planted smack in the middle of the tiny pond that had formed in our road.
So deep was this rut that her plastic-petaled face survived for days without being crushed. The sight of her buoyed us through all that brown… with the promise of SPRING!
“Well, LIFE is messy… it’s symbolic,” my husband proclaims in his weekly phone call to his parents–three-hundred miles away on the Jersey coast.
This is one of those times when I know the people on the other end of the line are wondering why the heck we live in a place where there is such a thing as “MUD Season.”
I’m sitting in bed with the worst head cold I’ve had in years wondering the same thing. WHY am I here? It’s April, and there are eight-foot snow drifts outside my window.
Now it’s my in-laws turn to share their weather (rub our noses in it more likely–in a not so subtle attempt to get us to move back “home.”)
“Sunny and 76 degrees on Monday.”
Seventy-six degrees… 76 degrees! The number turns over and over in my head, like the winning digits on a slot machine in Atlantic City.Immediately, I see myself packing up the car and the kids and heading south. My whole being vibrates to the possibility of pure undiluted sun–no snow, no mud, just SUN.
Then I remember that the baby is teething (all four top teeth at once) and that we both have ear infections (I didn’t even know adults could get those). My husband obviously has work, and our older son has school–even if it’s only kindergarten.
My fantasy of escaping south melts into a puddle–a big depressing puddle! I tune back into the phone call to hear my husband share OUR forecast. To their seventy six and sunny, he volleys:
“50 degrees and raining…for the NEXT couple of days!”
I slide back down under the covers, even more disgusted that I live here at this moment in time. I now completely resent Vermont for any efforts it’s making to warm up: fifty degrees is a pathetic attempt at spring-like weather in the face of seventy six. And RAIN! The snow might finally surrender, but the MUD will be consuming!
I wish I could just go to sleep till it’s all over.
“The roads are still passable,” I hear may husband offer cheerfully, in his‘Aren’t we amazingly resilient to live here’ tone .
He’s up for the challenge, like we reside permanently on one of those Survivor television programs he’s been sneaking to watch when I’m at work.
The word “passable” echoes in my ears despite my attempt to block out any thoughts to the contrary. With rain and warmer temperatures, these roads really might become “impassable” ie. I’m stuck here on the top of this muddy hill with two children and a husband who has to leave at dawn to hike to the nearest pavement.In some last ditch effort to rescue myself from total despair, I resurrect the first words I eavesdropped from this phone call:
“LIFE IS MESSY.”
I tell myself that there probably IS some symbolic meaning, some deeper purpose, in staying and facing the mess. (I’m a sucker for the “big picture” if one can be found; especially when I can’t find any cheap flights to my sister’s in Florida.) And when the boys are grown and the last dirt roads have been paved, there won’t even be mud seasons anymore.
Come to think of it, I feel we ALL have the responsibility to share these mud seasons with our children before it’s too late, before they forget what a dirt road can look like and sound like and feel like in the spring (no matter what it does to our alignments and mufflers).
Think of how many children living on paved roads in our towns and cities are deprived of the mud we take for granted in the country!
Suddenly I feel a song coming on, the one my little ‘Vermonter’ comes home from school singing every spring:
“MUD, MUD, I love Mud. I’m absolutely, positively, wild about Mud! You can’t go around it. You gotta go through it… Beautiful! Fabulous! Super Duper Mud!”
Life IS messy. Mud is messy. Will running away from it really make it any better–or is the old adage, like the song suggests, true?
“The only way around it, is through it.”
Maybe, just maybe, if I stay, and face this mess, I’ll come out the other side of this season, greener and more beautiful than I ever imagined possible; purified by the snow, stripped of illusions by its melting, and knee deep in the reality of life’s mud and beauty. (I told you I was a sucker.)
So what if I get stuck? What if I can’t get out? It doesn’t last forever. Nothing does. And if it’s really bad, the kids and I can sing that song–heck we can scream it at the top of our lungs if we have to. We can all join together and let it echo from the puddles and the ditches and the sink holes…
“MUD!, MUD!, I LOVE MUD!”
Happy Mud Season to you and yours!
from Kelly Salasin, from the top of Cow Path 40, Marlboro VT