In the Midst of it All

At the very height of the mountain road, atop a fast diminishing snowbank, someone has deposited a single pumpkin. It is small but very orange, and it delights me no end – the simple fact of it, sure, but even more so the imagining of how it came to rest here. Was it lobbed from the open window of a passing car? And if so, what kind of car (surely a Subaru, though I’m not exactly going out on a limb, here)? Or was it placed with careful consideration? Is its location at the top of the mountain intentional, a totem of sorts, or merely a matter of coincidence? So many questions, and none with answers beyond what I might imagine, which of course only makes them even more compelling.

(Crazily, this is not the first time I’ve found pumpkins situated along the side of a back road near to here; I’ve even written about it here previously. And so now I cannot help but wonder if perhaps there is a pumpkin bandit on the loose in northern Vermont, a notion that only increases my delight even further.)

Later on the same day, on another back road, I pass a man pushing a wheelchair loaded with firewood. A chainsaw perched atop the wood. I’ve seen the man walking the road before; he’s older than me, he must be pushing 60, and he always waves, and he’s often transporting firewood, though usually it’s just a single log, balanced on a shoulder. This is the first time I’ve seen the wheelchair trick. It’s a good one.

The virus spreads. The stock market plunges. The cows nose at the newly bare ground beneath the big spruce. The cats mewl at the door. The pumpkin has been there over a week now. It’s not been particularly cold, but cold enough that I suspect the man has burned his wheelchair load of wood and has since gone back for more. Some things are changing, some things are not, but in the midst of it all, the fire must still be fed.


17 thoughts on “In the Midst of it All”

  1. Dear Ben, I love this. I love you. Your writing delights me on a very deep level.. I see this pumpkin. And I smile, with full body.. enjoying the color & the mystery. Keep writing my dear. xoLiz

  2. GREAT post Ben! Thanks!! In times of widespread uncertainty, the reliable constancy of nature and your sage observations provide reasurring perspective on what’s really important.

  3. Ben….Pumpkins in the snow. White vs. orange. Mystery and wonder. Color in winter or what’s left of it. Bizarre? I think not, more like some kind of pleasure created by the installer for the viewer.

    The machine gun fire of news from media about the corona virus is constant. If not that it’s politics. I try not to listen. I look for escape routes. A respite from it all is a requirement for me these days. One of those places is right here. And I’d much rather think about pumpkins in snowbanks today. Thanks so much!

  4. Nature is steadfast and always has reminders for us humans that think we can control it, not to be corny from Jurassic Park, “Nature always finds a way…” and we must go on finding the simple moments which bring us joy, peace and to feed the fire of whatever gives us peace and joy which will in turn help those around us like your writings of today. Thank you.

  5. Thanks Ben for the reminder of the wonderful and simple things that are still happening around us. Heading out for another armload of wood for the Waterford Stanley cookstove. Yes, we have one also.

  6. I’m thankful for the constants. Good to see this post and our wood stove is still happily cranking. The rotting pumpkin in my daughter’s garden has finally bit the dust; I’m looking forward to the renegade seedlings.

  7. 30 some years ago, on VT I-89 S, a few miles past Exit 5, a small boulder (basketball plus) had been affixed to the sheer-wall roadcut, probably 14 feet above ground level, maybe 8 feet from the top. It was there for at least a year, and I always wondered how it had been installed. Looked to weigh at least 100 pounds! I assume the state removed it for safety reasons.

  8. What is it “they” say about burning wood? That it warms you four times; when you cut it, when you split it, when stack it, and when you burn it.

    It seems like COVID19 is just about the only topic of conversation anywhere you turn. I did a quick calculation that if 1 in every 10,000 Americans died from this virus, that number is about equal to the number of people killed in motor vehicle accidents annually. Many of us drive every day and face, at least roughly, the same odds of dying on the road as by this deadly virus. But we haven’t been hording toilet paper, Ramen noodles, and cheap beer because of the number of annual highway deaths.

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