> jumping into life.


Today the fields turned their dark faces to the new spring sun. Montpelier sandbagged against the swelling streams, and there was a robin perched high on the branches of a tree in the gulley where the new powerlines are going in. I have yet to figure out how writing will fit to this life and this schedule. On the drive I listen to books - Rushdie's Fury last week, Campbell's Hero With A Thousand Faces this one - and I can feel little strands of poetry unfurl, twine, and drift away, as they always do when I read. When I get home, there is dinner and my share of the dishes, cuddling, guitar, and early to bed. I am not used yet to being on my feet all day - remember that for most of the last year, my primary job was sitting. I never get used to getting up early - even that whole time of sitting, the wake-up bell was a torture (a practice opportunity, as they say) and an alarmclock with a sweet and snuggly boyfriend beside me is no easier.

Still, there is a beauty to being awake and alone and silent for the dawn. I have my morning oatmeal ritual back, some yoga, some tea. As the days grow and warm, there is time for a walk in the evening. This morning I woke with a quiet happiness thrumming in my breast, imagined myself robinbreasted, with drab dark wings and the wriggle of new life in my teeth.


The week is suddenly full. I wake now in the moments before dawn; by the end of the month I suspect there will be light enough to dress by, leaking around the roman shades. The drive to work begins with the long sigh of morning light across the fields. In three days of warm last week the world was revealed: cornstalks, fire hydrants, raised beds in our backyard, the carcasses of various road-dead animals, mud. Then a storm to make sure Saint Patrick is not jealous of Valentine. The fields gone white again after a new snow. He guesses two more weeks and then spring will make her advance and not retreat.

The workday goes quickly, mostly. I am learning as fast as they have time to teach me. I volunteer to walk all the dogs and forget that I have to watch them for quality of bowel movement and quantity of urine, and I stare out into the creekdeep gulley full of sumac and snowy trees and I breathe the cold air. Last week the scent of rain.

On the drive home I sing loud and look forward to the kiss that awaits me. On Saturday morning I sleep late, late, late and we make blueberry pancakes (local flour, frozen local blueberries, local milk and eggs!) and coffee (from a friend in Columbia, so local to him at least) and then I read or bake or go back to sleep. Or all three. Today we're going skiing - if it's going to snow, I might as well enjoy it.


The cold snap took us down to 40º below, if you count the windchill (about which you have little choice if you plan to travel out of doors). On the way to work I could see my breath in the car as far as Charlotte - a good third of the drive. Today the thermometer reads 43º and the sky is low and windy. I'm hoping, of course, for rain. The past week I've been yearning towards spring, and past spring into summer: tomatoes, peaches, green things, sun. Peppers, peas, green beans, berries. Peaches. Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes. Nectarines. Cherries. Plums.

As I've mentioned before, we try hard to eat locally and seasonally; I feel like it's one of the more important and rewarding things I can do to connect me to the world and to preserve the world I love. Okay. And it's delicious. I love beets and potatoes, I love chili and scrambled eggs and homebrew. We stray, of course - peanut sauce and pizza are not uncommon in our kitchen (though there is local flour for the dough and local cheese). But as a rule we don't buy out-of-season produce - no Florida oranges, no California berries in our winter home. Besides, peaches this time of year could not possibly be delicious. Okay. There are bags of frozen local blueberries and raspberries next to the locally-made pie crusts. All is not lost.

And yet. On the phone my mother tells me she saw the first irises last week; they're taking the new dog to Garland to see the wildflowers today. Growing up in California's central coast, the idea of "local food" was almost laughable. We fed the nation; feeding ourselves was something like an afterthought. The farmer's market goes year-round in Monterey; eating seasonally means being snobbish about winter strawberries. In Arizona too we were not wanting for produce. The CSA moved heavily into turnips, no doubt, but still there were oranges, lemons, bright things, and tomatoes that came from a ways south but were Arizonan and organic and justifiable.

There are tomatoes from a hydroponic hothouse here, but they are not worth eating.

Is food all I talk about these days? What about the low-slanting sun and the sweet shadows across the stubbled fields? What about the heart that mutters happily to the sky? What about kittens nubbling their tiny faces into my shoulder, then exploding kittenshit onto my new scrubs? What about the thrill of competence slowly unfurling itself at work?

Still and yet, in my quiet moments these days, the mind and heart come quietly back to peaches. And tomatoes. Sigh.


Things I learned my first day of work:

1) If I'm getting up at 6, I'd better be in bed before midnight.
2) If I notice my neighbors' car is blocking me in, I should mention it to them right away, even if it is 7 AM, rather than hoping they'll wake up in time to not make me late for my first day of work.
3) If I notice that a dog is growling, I should put a muzzle on it right away, rather than assuming that I'm being overly worrisome.
4) It is utterly pointless to take a shower before I leave, and utterly imperative that I take one when I get home.
5) I need a library card and a stock of books on tape.


Here are all the little details, taken care of - the new license, registration for the car and for the voting booth, bank account at the local credit union. Gas and electric bills paid, rent paid. Job secured. Trash taken to the curb. I'm officially a Vermont resident now. Which is pretty nice.

Still, I am adapting slowly. I ache for rain; the blue sky and bright snow do not speak "winter" to me. Even the overcast days and the cold. You can argue that there are no seasons in coastal California, and certainly there are few autumn leaves and fewer blizzards - still, the year does change. Winter is dark sky and big wind, fat raindrops and floods. By now the hills are greening, the rains slackening. In my mind I understand that snow should mean winter even more than rain, but my heart doesn't buy it. Snow means nothing to my body and its knowledge of seasons, -20º means nothing, nothing here can convince me it is winter. It feels like it's been years since I was in a thunderstorm. He tells me there will be rain aplenty in the spring; give me spring then. Snow is piled five feet high on the curb, icicles grin toothily from the roof, and all my skin yearns for a good rain. Water, water everywhere, and not a puddle to jump.