If Only

Winter’s End

Spring comes galloping on a week of 60-degree days. And the sun, that old friend. Snow melts, rivers run, the backroads thaw. Sap flows, but the season starts late and looks to finish early, and the talk is that sugarmakers down south have already pulled their taps, having made only a quarter crop. It’s just talk, but still.

I drive rutted roads to pick up loads of sawdust for the cows’ bedding, the same drive I took almost exactly a year ago, the one I wrote about here. How much has changed. How little. The small town I visit frequently is busier than it was a year ago, there’s no lockdown despite surging virus numbers, we all just go about our lives with masks on our faces and bottles of hand sanitizer tucked into the dash cubbies of our cars. Some of us get sick; more of us don’t. Some of us have been vaccinated; more of us haven’t. It’s just the way life is for now.

Yesterday we had rain that turned to snow overnight, and this morning the trees are newly frosted, there’s no sun, and we’re 25 degrees shy of 60. I shovel sawdust into the cows’ paddock, and there’s something about it that excites them; they run fast, short circles and fling sawdust into the air with their wide, wet noses. Later, maybe, I’ll see if I can shore up some electric wire and give them a little more room to roam, but for now I shovel and shovel as they run and fling, their whole world confined by a wood-slat fence they could breach in a heartbeat if only they knew how easy it would be.