Spring. I awake to the distant sound of water rushing in the small creek that skirts the southern boundary of our land, and above that, the intermittent call of songbirds. I feel like I should know which ones, but I don’t. Daylight coming on, but the sky is low and sinking lower, I can feel it even if I can’t quite see it yet. It will rain soon. The floor creaks beneath my feet. After coffee and chores I pedal my bike up the long, steep climb to Cole’s Pond, the thawing road soft beneath my tires, beads of sweat amassing along my brow, lining up to drop one after the other. I ride under a strand of wire strung from the outstretched branches of maples on either side of the road; a hot line to a fence containing a herd of Angus that watch my passing with that particular bovine breed of curiosity: Interested, but not too interested. Like really if they had anything better to do, they’d be doing it. There’s no grass for them yet, but it won’t be long. Two, three weeks. Another few minutes of climbing and there’s the charred remains of the house that burned last month, it’s stunning to see the fire’s rude work, everything black and twisted into gross approximations of its original form. I don’t know the family, but I heard they made it out ok. So that’s good at least.
A young woman shows up to my writing group, and when I ask if her name is spelled Bee or Bea, she says it’s just B, and then proceeds to crank out one incredible spoken word piece after another, full of these complex rhymes that never quite seem to fall where I’m expecting, and I can tell immediately that this is a person who’s done some living. I mean, who hasn’t, but you know: There’s living, and there’s living, and maybe like most of us I sometimes feel like I’m dwelling too much in the former and not enough in the latter. But really who’s to say. Each will take their pound of flesh. Each will eat you alive eventually. I bet B would agree.
By the time I’ve made the top of the climb and ridden back down past the burned house and under the hot wire, the farmer who strung it is out fixing fence. Lines in his face like a treasure map. He waves, I wave. Morning. Mornin’. I look for the cows again but they’re nowhere to be seen and I guess they went and found something better to do after all.