Almost as soon as I began to set my roots down in Vermont, a quarter-century ago, it began to change me. It wasn’t always pretty, and it was frequently painful, particularly given my level of resistance, and yet, I also gave myself to it–surrendered to these Green Mountains & brooks & black flies & breasts & babies and found myself inspired by the older sisters I never had–first the homesteaders and the healers, then the advocates and the activists, the mystics and the artists--sometimes younger than me, sometimes male, and always among them–fertile permission to live my life as art–which for me means moving forward in the dark of not knowing for sure.
“Eccentric,” a college classmate once accused me, “If not for that, you’d be successful.”
She may have been right, but I wouldn’t have been “home” in that kind of success.
Tiny chirps let us know that the eggs in the nest above our light fixture have hatched,
and so this year, having failed yet again to prevent her nesting there,
we re-arrange our tiny porch to better accommodate feeding & flight,
which is to say: poop;
while eagerly awaiting the sight of little heads popping up from her moss wrapped nest.
She comes every year.
Last June Casey saw each one of her chicks take flight.
She’s been my steady companion this cold spring–flying out each time I arrive home or depart,
and then as the weather warmed, flying back and forth to the nest as I watched from the kitchen, fixing meals for my family, while she fed hers.
Last week I introduced her to a friend.
We’re all Mamas after all.
But then a day went by, and I realized I hadn’t seen her, and then another, and I was almost certain I hadn’t, so this morning, I asked Casey to check.
This year I decided or defaulted into resenting summer’s approach, which has long been my favorite time of year (ever since marriage & motherhood confined me to a state where the season of life is so absurdly short.)
So that even as I returned to my summer pleasure palace–South Pond–I resented it:
“Oh, this again…”
Which was a terrifying or at least a largely alarming state of mind, particularly after such a protracted winter.
“Had South Pond changed?
Was this what it was to age?”
But even in my sourness, there was suspicion.
Was I simply protecting my heart?
Had I lost the capacity to love in the face of inevitable loss?
YES! That was it!
I couldn’t bear another summer ending.
And so I wouldn’t love it.
But then May came, and even with all its cold rain, it wooed me.
And then June, not even through, was sweeping me off my feet.
So that I’m pretty sure that I’m falling in love again, in spite of myself, because this morning when I woke, in yet another dour middle-aged mood, I looked across the room and thought:
Look how beautiful my blow dryer.
I’m gonna take a photo of it in this morning light
and share it on Instagram”
I cozy up in the chair beside the woodstove,
a peppery mug of chai in my hand,
and turn to face out the French doors,
toward the promise of spring
is all we have
in these mountains
While the valley below swoons with bloom.
I don’t mean to rhyme, but even without sun,
the mid-day light on this hill beckons;
the grass almost greening;
the bulbs almost bursting;
But the branches
Oh those branches!
Weary with waiting
Darkened with rain
Empty and foreboding.
But wait, what’s that I see?
Faint, so very faint,
but definitely something other
than brown or gray or tiresome Evergreen.
Poetry comes to my lips,
but before I can grab a pen to put down the words I say aloud,
and as if my voice is an invocation
I hear the call of the geese
and look toward the pond
and watch them fly overhead.
Maybe it was the tick of the woodstove
or the soup in the pot
that clouded my vision;
Or perhaps: the first blush of spring in the mountains
is happening at this very moment
for all those, like me, who sit still and see.
I miss the Reading Lady on Williston–that tiny road on the back side of town.
She was my favorite sign of spring.
Appearing there on the porch of her aging Victorian.
Layers shed beneath gingerbread lattice
While the season unfolded into summer.
First a cup of tea and a blanket.
Then a glass of lemonade and a sun hat.
And always a book (and reading glasses.)
Well into autumn.
Right there on the corner as I drove by.
Did she move away or worse–pass away?
I like to imagine her on the coast of Maine.
Overlooking the ocean or perhaps beside a quiet bay.
Waves lapping at the dock
Where she reads
While the world
A bit slower
A rainy Wednesday in March brings to mind the memory of orange, chocolate-chip scones.
This would be just the day to sit a spell at the counter at Sweeties on Route 9 in Marlboro–sipping a latte, taking in the aroma of bacon, the morning conversations, the ebb and flow of townspeople and tourists beginning their day
Sweeties has been closed now for a handful of years and we’ve all grown accustomed to having to leave town for gas or a six-pack, but the absence lingers like a loved one, and sometimes rises like an ache, particularly in wintry months or on rainy days like today.
“After the General Store, comes the Post Office,” says a neighbor. “Then the school.”
Marlboro School was at the center of last week’s Pre-Town Meeting in response to Act 46 which seeks to consolidate school governance.
“Forced, short-sighted, rushed through legislation,” is how one woman described it.
A discussion of the unintended consequences of Act 46 ensues; and I’m surprised by a consideration that hadn’t occurred to me until then, and how deeply it shakes me–not the loss of our precious Junior High, or the loss of our vibrant voice; or how these losses will reshape our school, and our town; but something that strikes at the center of self-governance:
I know not everyone can make it on the first Tuesday in March, and I know that efforts in other towns to shift the meeting to an evening or a weekend haven’t produced the desired results; But our old Town House fills up with body heat and breath and voice and community, and that’s something.
And even in the years when you’re not in a chair or on a bench or at that front table or up at the podium, the gathering holds space for who we are and how we live and what happens here, not just in Marlboro, but all over the Green Mountain state, and even across our nation, as Bernie proved to be true.
Sure Town Meeting would continue for awhile; the old timers here are hearty like that; but the absence of the school budget–ie. the absence of children at the heart of decision making–would hollow out the gathering, until it became a dusty relic of itself.
Just before our Pre-Town Meeting closes, a follow up question about our “Geographically Isolated” and “Structurally Isolated” school comes from the floor:
“If we find that it doesn’t work for our town, can we go back to what we had?”
The response sends a chill through my body, particularly this year:
“Once you take it apart, you can’t build it again.”