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.

25 thoughts on “Just Enough”

  1. It’s almost as good as getting a paper letter from an old friend in the actual mailbox. I see your new entry in my feedly and I say “Hi Ben!” warmly and happy that you took the time to write. Now that it’s less common, checking in seems all the more sweet and valuable.
    Never expected but always appreciated.

    Thanks so much, and best wishes to you and your family and your animals this winter.

  2. 🙂 Good Morning! I don’t subscribe but I check your site now and again and am always so pleased to see a new post! Enjoy your first snow! Beautiful writing!

  3. This is a really beautiful description of your journey. I feel like I was riding shotgun in the cab of your truck 😉
    Thanks for sharing with us, your writings always bring a smile to my face.

  4. I can “feel” this ride through the very first snowfall. Thanks Ben, for recalling such a poignant childhood memory!

  5. Oh yes… so much joy from our youngest two as they put on their snow clothes, make snowballs, catch snowflakes, – the date on the calendar meaningless to them.

  6. Lovely, Ben!…..I wasn’t driving in the snow yesterday – I was hurriedly gathering in the last of the ripe (and green!) tomatoes, onions and celery that can’t survive the -5 to -10 Celsius we’re being blessed with this week-end. It felt quite surreal to be harvesting summer veggies with the sharp scent of smoke from our cook stove wafting in and around the silent, floating flakes. I was even able to gather the last of summer’s sweet posies; a jaunty little bouquet of sweet peas, yarrow, phlox and Japanese anemones flaunts itself on the dining table this morning as I delight in the warm comfort of my wood cook stove and watch through the big window as the dusting of confection sugar snow slowly – very slowly! – melts and drips away. Time to finish battening down the winter hatches – Good luck and Happy Winter!

  7. When I saw the Facebook notification I smiled, as I always do. But just as quickly it went away for that post took my breath away. Until the end, when I smiled again.

  8. Exchange falling leaves for snow and that’s the joy I’ve been privileged to be a part of these days with my boys. Running and jumping up to catch them as they fall and throwing them up again by the armful – magical.
    I love that you waved to the children you saw for I would have done the same.
    Thanks for this special treat. Always happy to see a new post from you. Stay warm!

  9. Beautiful!

    I spent the weekend in Fairlee, enjoying Vermont’s beauty and the snow. I watched it snow from inside Saturday afternoon, glad for the warmth but wishing I could step outside to catch a few flakes.

  10. 57 this AM, but it got up into the 80’s in the PM. Great weather for harvest. The house was 77 after dinner, so I turned on the A/C. Going turkey hunting tomorrow, maybe in shorts and a t-shirt, more like mid-September than mid-October.

    Glad to know that you are well, hope that Penny and the Boys are too. I have a box to send to you, gallon zip-lock bags of wild cone flower and wild sunflower seeds to bring some color to your new homestead.

    1. We can only accept things as they are. To fear that the rumspringa might hold boxed cereal or meth is a distraction from what is. But I am glad to see you’re still riding the mail train. Peace be with you.

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