Before the wind and rain took the last of the foliage

The leaves are off the trees, or most of them, anyway. What stands out now are the gold-hued Tamarack and the ever-shifting drama of the changeable sky. On a recent morning I drive the back roads, passing in short order a father and grown son ushering a small herd of Jersey cows into a bitten-down pasture; the two men are talking to one another, but my windows are up and I cannot hear their words, only their mouths moving, their hands gesticulating in the cool air. A mile or so later, I pass a mobile home with a large maple in the front yard; an engine – and a big one, at that – is hanging from a low, stout branch of the tree, like some outlandish piece of fruit. I feel an almost irresistible urge to stop my car. I want to give the engine a little push, watch it sway back-and-forth. How fun would that be? Not long after the engine, I happen upon the carcass of a large animal, surely bovine, dressed and skinned, hanging like the engine, but this time from a tractor bucket. The animal’s fat is yellow like the Tamaracks. That yellow is indicative of a dairy breed, something with high butterfat, maybe a Jersey, or a Guernsey.

Sometimes I think about how deep this place is embedded in me, how comfortable I am here, lulled by its sights and smells and sounds. Forty-seven years of them. Almost 48. Not quite old, but not quite young, either. And how much of me – or what I think of as me – is an incalculable sum of all these little parts.

Though mostly I don’t think of this. Mostly I just watch it unfurl along the roadsides. Mostly I just walk the forest. Split the wood. Stoke the fire. Waiting for the snow that is soon to come.




7 thoughts on “Waiting”

  1. Ben…Comfort within one’s surroundings is the road to peace. Immersion in nature such as you have it in northeast Vermont is a blessing of life. I think I should be there, not here. No rat race, disconnection from constant technology that puts us in a captive fast lane, engines hanging from trees, two men talking without phones in their hands. Reading this piece, just like others from your pen, gives me comfort that is at least temporary and drive thoughts of leaving the city for what remains in my shortening days. Thanks for this article!

  2. The unrealized drift of the years, the inching inching of our live moments, the somewhat terrifying fact and long arm of the incremental, we are born, we die.

    Ben, carry on. I hope you are writing mostly what your most wish to write. will

  3. You are a bit ahead of us here on the Nebraska prairie. We’ve had some hard frosts and light snows, most of the leaves are on the ground and today won’t get above 30°, but if this November is like most of them in the past 50 years, we’ll have a warm spell. And then, we farmers will hustle around trying to get done what we haven’t gotten done to prepare for real winter, although few, if any of us, will get as much done as we want too.

    There is still some color around, especially in the city and larger towns, but the reds and yellows and deep greens are more brownish and tannish every morning. This fall the Niobrara birches I planted 20 years ago did not have a yellow period in early October; they went from green to tan to bare branches in about 2 days. And the catalpas went from green to no leaves overnight last week when we got down to 23. The leaves were raining down as I drove past them at 8:30 am and the trees were bare when I returned a couple hours later.

    And the seasons, they go round and round . . .

    Loved your post about “waiting!” Aren’t we all?

  4. Maybe you’ll have more time to spend sharing your Vermont life once winter has fully settled in.

    It’s hard to live vicariously through your words if you don’t find time to write them.

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