adventures at the end of the world


the best thing about us is the people we know.

Finally, Spring

Until last week, rafts of snow still lay in the lee of the weeping blue spruce. On an 80-degree day, Bryan scooped them in his hands and fastballed them against the shed, showering ice crystals down my back.

Now the warm wind blowing up from the west smothers you with full-body kisses. Now the snow is gone, and the yard greens before our eyes. There are wine-colored buds on the bare ends of maple branches, and this year, deep puce buds on the larch tree--were they there last year and I didn't notice them? Monstrous daffodils have taken a mossy brush pile in the woods beside the chaga-crusted birches--their scent clouds the kitchen. I didn't even know daffodils had a smell. It's like lilacs, but more dry and woodsy. 

Oh, thank God, thank God for spring. 

The lake has given up its baleful muttering for a tomcat purr, serene crepe waters reflecting a trail of melted electricity from the dawdling sun. From the elevation of 88 West, we can see the evening wind drive crosscurrents over its glassy surface, tight formations of ripples that travel like a galloping herd of bison. 

When I remember that the Jam Pot is open now, I can hardly contain myself. How long since I've tasted thimbleberry jam? (You can't buy it anywhere else--it's not the same.)

It's cycling season, both on TV and the road between our house and the lake. Paddling season, too, though the days are still cold enough to keep all but my experimental fingers out of the water. Elizabeth paddles out every morning at six to catch the sunrise, then goes home and back to bed. But then she has Yooper blood. 

Smoke-blue cirrus drifts across the apple blossom sky at an imperceptible pace--look away and back again, and the clouds are a mile distant. Leave a roaring fire to refill your cup, and you'll return to embers. Nights like this get in my head, slowing the spinning wheels. I find myself remembering things, scenes stashed in the back of memory's drawers for having no clear context. Scurrying with Kyra around a sunset-hazed West Village. Climbing cobbled hills in Paris with no direction or desire for it. The stars falling softly on the blue hills over Nice. Wandering lost in a maze of hanging laundry on the dry fringes of Venice, unbothered by the suspicious stares of locals in their battered lawn chairs. Falling asleep on slow trains. Memories you don't remember being in, as strange as this timeless world where I apparently now live. Without emotional urgency, life lingers on its orbit, as surely as the planets would without gravity. 

There are reports of moose near 88 West, though still no sighting on the game camera. Bryan locked eyes with a beaver paddling between the mouths of Thompson Creek and Silver Creek. We both saw our resident bald eagle dive into the water, not one hundred feet from where we stood on shore, and carry off a sixteen-inch lake trout. 

I've pulled all the fallen moldy leaves off the garden plots, cut the dead reeds and wild raspberry canes, and piled them in the woods, the better to watch the annuals stretch their hungry arms from the dirt. I see every dandelion and crabgrass stem the minute it arrives, pry it from the ground and throw it, with respect, into the driveway to dry up. After all, the plants I don't want have the same admirable spirit as the plants I do. 

Now that I know where everything is--the hollyhocks, the Icelandic poppies, the globe thistles--I examine them every day for signs of progress, even the ones that I know won't show until well into summer. It just feels respectful to acknowledge them, now that I better understand what they have to fight through. It feels as though we've all come through this long winter together--bluejays and northern flickers, globe hyacinths and geraniums, birches and wild apples, cyclists and paddlers, even the goddamn moles and mice that never give up on invading our house. We all share a refugee relief at the late return of the seasons to their proper axis. 

Chelsea BattenComment