Blowing in the Storm


Skiing with my friend Andy, back when it was sunny and cold 

For three days, it is spring. Forty-five degrees, the sun high and bright, the backroads thawing and softening. I drive home through the first mud of the new year, the familiar thrill of finding the perfect line amongst the ruts. Or at least the line that doesn’t get me stuck. Rivulets of water run across the road, glistening in the sun. Following an old flatbed truck loaded with hardwood logs. The driver doesn’t seem worried about the mud, he just plows through, the truck swaying side-to-side, making ruts of its own.

I’m with my son. We’ve got the windows down and we’re singing along to Slaid Cleaves doing Black T-Shirt, not much caring if anyone hears us which is easy because we know no one can. Driving and singing, driving and singing. We’re always driving and singing. We pass the same farmhouse I wrote of a couple weeks back, the one with the laundry hung to dry. There’s more laundry; this time, it’s all sheets. There’s a blue one and a couple green ones and one that’s faded red. They look worn, though I can’t really tell; it could just be the house itself, which doesn’t look like the sort of place that’s getting many deliveries of new bedding, if you know what I mean.

They say to write what you know, and I guess that’s why I keep writing the same damn things over and over again: Driving with my boy. Skiing. Cold and cows. Laundry on a line strung across the porch of an old farmhouse. I guess maybe any of us might find our lives to sometimes feel so narrow, though of course we’re fools to believe it, and I guess maybe it’s worth being reminded of that once in awhile, too.

The skies have closed back up. It’s spitting rain now. There’s weather coming. Wind and snow. I’ll fill the tractor with diesel for plowing, top off the cows’ water in case we lose power. Tomorrow I’ll probably pass that farmhouse again. Already, I can imagine laundry blowing in the storm.




A Little Different

My friend Brett has loaned me The Line Becomes a River, by Francisco Cantu. It’s about his experiences as a border patrol agent, and also about the border itself, and of course about those who cross, for reasons both nefarious and heart-rending, though often it seems as if both are of the same cloth. I am reading it slowly, in part because of the writing itself, which feels like something to linger over, rather than devour, but also (and less flatteringly) in part because I seem to have arrived at the age when too much reading in the evening is a surefire recipe for premature slumber. Oh how readily we succumb to all the cliches.

I ski in the final light of the day, moving purposefully because I haven’t brought a headlamp and dark is coming fast. The temperature is dropping fast, too, it’s nearly to zero, and the snow is squeaky and slow, the top layer packed dense by the previous day’s gusting wind. I love that the snow is never quite the same; every day it feels a little different beneath my skis. And every day it sounds a little different, sometimes scratchy and coarse and sometimes like a long, drawn out hush and sometimes as if it’s coming from a great distance, almost like when you hold a seashell to your ear and you imagine you can hear the ocean.

I step out of my skis, and walk to the cows’ paddock, where I break the skim of ice that’s formed on their water, hoping they think to drink before it freezes over again.

Just some ole fashioned, high quality rock n’ roll from Whiskey Myers. Enjoy. 


Again and Again and Again

20200130_063342Sunrise in the woods

Snow turns to rain turns to sleet and back to snow again. I drive over the mountain to ski with my son, the road unplowed, the truck in four-wheel-drive, the heat on high, windshield wipers slapping time. The both of us quiet. Coming down the other side, near the bottom, we pass an old farmhouse with rows of laundry hung to dry under the roof of a covered porch. It’s a beautiful sight, all that color against the flaking paint of the house and the monochrome of the sky.

In town we stop for gas. The snow is lighter now, the sky less oppressive. The pump whirs and whirs. It’s barely mid-morning, but I’ve been up for hours and I’m tired. The pump clicks off and I top it off to the next highest dollar, and if I’d gone over by mistake (I don’t, I barely ever do), I’d’ve taken it to the next highest quarter dollar. It’s just one of those things I do.

At the mountain I chase my boy. He skis fast, right on the edge of what feels controllable to me. The speed invigorates me, forces me to pay attention. The snow is still falling, but it’s lazy now. My chin is so cold. From the chairlift, we watch the ski academy kids run gates, leaning one way and then the other, like those big inflatable dolls you can’t tip over no matter how hard you push them, the ones that just return to center again and again and again.


The Good Thing

On my way home from an evening hike with a friend, I drive into a brief snow squall. Suddenly, the gravel road is entirely covered by snow, not a single track or blemish to be seen, everything smooth and white and quiet. It’s fun, driving over the sheet of white, snow hammering against the windshield, my darkened world reduced even further by the closed-in feeling of the squall, and I feel like I want to drive like this for a very long time, leaving my tracks to fill in behind me. As if I’d gone an entirely different direction. As if I’d never come this way at all. 

Too soon I arrive at the far side of the storm, and just as suddenly as it came upon me, it is gone. I speed up until a deer crosses the road in front of me, and looking from where it came (you always look from where it came), I see another standing at the shoulder. Body tensed, ears alert. I know it’s thinking of running, and I know I won’t be able to stop in time. “Stay,” I say. And the good thing is that it does.