Let there be snapping turtles!
(Born on the first day of Autumn, 2016, South Pond.)
Let there be snapping turtles!
(Born on the first day of Autumn, 2016, South Pond.)
There were 20 minutes when no one was there.
Not on the beach.
Not in the water.
Not across the pond.
I strip down in an instant
and dive into the September waters
and daringly continue out
toward our town
the altar of summer.
I lift myself onto the dock
and lie there
under the sun,
one middle-aged breast
deflating to each side.
No virgin offering
to this lasting day of summer.
And before I hear a car door slam
or the crunch of a stick underfoot,
I slip off the dock
and make my way back through the cool water to the shore.
I wrap myself in a towel,
and stand at the water’s edge
to let the sun kiss my face,
in communion with the stillness
Just then, a head appears,
out of the soft ripples I left behind.
It’s the one we’ve watched grow from a chick on his mother’s back
to being left behind by the mating pair to come of age on his own.
The loon and I regard one another,
and then he dives under the water again,
and I sit down with a book.
Russ and Andi appear
in their beach chairs
in the grass.
we hold the silence
of the eternal moment…
of this summer day
Until we’re startled by a flock of geese
who lift from the banks
and swoop across our view,
and circle the pond
and rise over the mountains
While everyone is back at school
or at work,
the last rays of summer
speed West across South Pond
in a zillion points of white.
Like a city-scape
reflecting into space,
the competition is so dense
as to render the
Amidst these miniature mariners of light,
in the opposite
in a one-man Olympic event–
His flamboyant breast stroke
Knocking tiny boats into the breeze.
no where to be seen.
the wind picks up
flattening white sails
while others furiously tack
toward the Finish line.
I close my eyes,
unable to bear such weight,
Sails to drop
Sailors to go home
Waters to still
to call for his
in the silent
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
Deer in the North
Owl in the West
Geese in the sky
Crickets in the grass
as I float on the pond
with Summer’s Goodbye
like a Nursing Mother,
Will this be the last time?
~Kelly Salasin, New Moon, September 2011
Ask around and you’ll find that I have a hard time surrendering summer, and that’s putting it mildly. As soon as we pass the Summer Solstice and the days begin to grow shorter, my pond cronies tease me about the sun dropping behind the mountain a minute earlier each night.
As flirtatious June heats up into toasty July and then releases into cooling August, true friends hush others when words like “autumn” or “school ” are spoken in my vicinity; while others openly mourn along with me.
But this year is different, at least this morning–midway through September. Today, I am willingly relinquishing my rules for prolonging summer (and I am almost welcoming the changes the new season brings.)
Maybe I’ve evolved. Or maybe this is just an intermission of enlightenment, and tomorrow I’ll be back to my old ways–chasing after summer with flip flips or pond dinners and alternately taking her departure personally.
It may be that I’ve had my fill of sadness this summer–from my son’s diving accident at the pond; to my best friend’s collision at the beach; to the loss of innocence at our community Co-op; to the devastation that rocked my state.
I don’t want to spend any more time being sad. I feel so much appreciation and love and tenderness; and in the grace of that flow, even I can surrender summer.
Kelly Salasin, Marlboro, VT 05344
There comes a day when summer’s end is whispered almost everywhere.
Is it always a Sunday? Or does it just feel that way because it’s August.
Three weeks deep into the month that steals the sun, we gather for a potluck brunch at the pond for a second time this season.
We do the same every Friday evening, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but the Sunday brunch is something special, arranged spontaneously by a string of unusually fair days, or in this case, by the approaching end of our time together at South Pond.
Some years we arrive for breakfast in sweatshirts, and other years in swimsuits, but always with thermoses of coffee and pitchers of orange juice and pints of just picked berries.
Either Carol or Joan (both if we’re lucky) will have a basket with something warm and cinnamon-y inside, and then there’s Don with his dish of richly crusted quiche; and Susan’s homemade goat cheese; and Andy, with eggs and meat, which he’ll fry on the grill under the bright morning sun until we are all well fed and his head is dripping with sweat.
Friends, and friends of friends, fill plates and gather around picnic tables or on blankets or in beach chairs in the sand, while young ones scurry off with bowls of fruit to nibble beside the swing set or atop of overturned boats.
Some arrive late, and heads will rise to see what new dish is added; and if empty handed, these latecomers will be encouraged to join the feast, “There’s plenty left,” we’ll say (whether there is or isn’t), and odd forks and pot lids for plates will be produced to accommodate.
No one should think on summer’s end at a time like this, and if one finds herself doing so, she should keep it private and try to talk herself out of it by thinking things like: those shadows are always just as deep beside the shade tree at this time of day; that patch of red on the distant hill is surely a decaying branch of leaves; the sudden, crisp current of the water is a relief on such a humid day.
After breakfast, we turn toward crossword puzzles or card games or conversation about the weather or politics or bovine lactation– with Coral who is off to get her doctorate in Alberta in a field that is apparently filled with possibilities.
Other young adults, once children, are asked about their college or travel plans; while other children, once babies, swim out to the dock or paddle off in kayaks, as mothers swim across the pond to the sandbar, no longer needing to look after anyone but themselves.
Someone picks up a ukulele and suddenly music makes more magic of this day. Time slows, and although we’ve all grown older together, it seems as if this morning, this pond, this community… will never end.
Thus I force my surrender into late summer’s embrace, pretending it’s not ending, as I open my novel and sink down into my chair.
The illusion is almost perfect until someone says she has to go, and calls after her kids to find a ride home if they want to stay longer.
I look around and realize that most everyone here can drive already.
By the time I finish the chapter, I see that same family, all four of them, walking in single file up the pond path.
Each of our families has distinct “pond” personalities–some arriving every afternoon and staying for dinner, others preferring quiet mornings, and yet others stopping in for a dip here and there in an otherwise full day.
As one who stays into the night, I’ve watched this particular family depart many times up the same worn path under the same trees–only now the children are taller and stronger than the parents.
Like a doorway out of the present, and away from our shared past, this family departs under a dappled light that most certainly is not summer’s.
Kelly Salasin, South Pond, August 21, 2011