Just Enough

IMG_1913I drove home on the cusp of evening, through a slanting snow, down the Main Street of a town so small the road might as well have been named Only Street. The snow had begun earlier in the afternoon, in the manner of almost all first-of-season snows: Tentative, soft, unserious. But now it was something else, and the wind had picked up, too, and the snow swept and swirled across the pavement in complicated circular patterns. I feared that if I looked too hard, I would somehow become lost in them, so I fixed my gaze just above the roadway, guiding the truck not so much by the road itself, but by the features that delineated its edge: Houses. Trees. Utility poles.

I passed two children standing at the forward edge of a lawn covered by the detritus of rural poverty. Cars on blocks with hoods propped like open mouths. A four-wheeler. Something that looked like a canoe cut in half longways, but this must have been a trick of mind and weather. Through a curtained window, I could see the spectral glow of a television in an-otherwise darkened room. Smoke from a stove pipe.

The children were ecstatic. They were leaping and flailing their limbs, yelling into the squall. They didn’t just hold their faces to the storm; they actually pushed into it, mouths agape, the cold flakes tickling their tongues, the tender spot at the back of the throat. I waved, but their attention was elsewhere, and in a moment I had passed beyond their small orbit, the tires of the Ford cutting dark lines through the skin of snow. I turned the heater on high and rolled down the window just enough to let in a bit of the storm.


Generally Speaking


The leaves were late to turn this year but now are in full riot. It has been warm, almost surreally so, and it feels to me as if the upcoming season is coiling itself, fattening us on sunshine and shirtsleeves, turning us soft and witless before the killing strike.

Every day lately I pass someone putting up a late cutting of hay, third cut or even fourth, the familiar whir of the mower, that sweet smell of fresh-cut grass. I dreamed I was driving our neighbors’ big New Holland tractor across our field, and then, for reasons I could not have anticipated in any rational way, the next morning I was.

Generally speaking, I believe we all know more than we think we do.




The cows gather beneath the big apple tree down at the far corner of the field. They’d eat themselves sick if I let them, so I run a short line of fence to keep them in check. The apples are amazing this year, which is supposed to mean it will be hard winter, but may just mean that the apples are amazing this year. Part of me hopes for the former; another part would be fine if it were merely the latter. Neither part has much choice in the matter.

The morning fire routine has begun, a small one in the small kitchen stove, just enough to take the chill off, boil water for coffee, cook eggs. Dark outside, hoar frost on the ground. The cows down the field under the apple tree, maybe thinking about the drops on the wrong side of the fence.

Probably thinking about nothing at all.