In the evening I ride my bike exactly one-half mile to the town hall for our bi-weekly selectboard meeting. The sun is out but the air is still cold from the front that brought the previous evening’s snow, which is now melting but only slowly. Across the road from the town hall, the old church is washed in late day light; it looks almost as if it’s lit from within, as if the light were emanating from the building, rather than being cast upon it. We gather in the office, the three of us on the selectboard and the town treasurer and because there is scant business to conduct, we mostly talk the small news of this small town, which on this evening revolves around who has covid and who moved into the big house on the hill and if they’re nice folks or not, and Steve says that Jay says they are and that settles that so we all get up and walk out of the town hall and Regina points to the melting snow and says “poor man’s fertilizer” and I say “the snow that takes the snow” because that’s what my father always used to say. And probably still does.
The light is off the church now and it’s gone colder by far. Goosebumps rise quick and sharp on my arms. I pedal over the bridge on my way home, the familiar sound of the stream rushing below. The day nearly done. The sun sinking, the light gone dusky and thin. It’s poor man’s daylight, I think. It’s the light that takes the light.
Music: Here’s a beaut from Zach Bryan. And a good ole foot stomper from Shane Smith and the Saints.
16 thoughts on “Poor Man’s Daylight”
Hi Ben….I can’t tell you just how much this post moved me. And it makes me think that I need to live in the immediate region that you occupy in Vermont. Of course, it will never happen. Time is running out for major moves. Wrong tense – time HAS run out for that. It makes your writing ever more important to me. Thanks much.
Thanks, Tom. I admit to also feeling as if time has run out for a lot of things. But perhaps not for others.
Great imagery Ben. I call it laughing snow because it’s better than the alternative.
Agreed. Nice to hear from you, Jim.
Love this one, Ben!
At first glance, I read the title as, ‘Poor Man’s Delight.’ Works out either way
That’s a great misread.
I recall a student bringing up snow being a poor man’s fertilizer in my college agronomy class, our professor quickly replied; “That is why he is a poor man.”
There’s a certain logic to that for sure
Greatly enjoyed this piece Ben. For some reason, I recently heard this song and immediately thought of you and your low key rural practicality. Hope it returns the favor for a nice piece of writing. (If link fails it is Jonathan Byrd’s “A Big Truck Brought It”.
Thanks, Gran, and thanks for the music recommendation. I’ll check it out.
Thanks, Ben! You so very much reminded me of this:
The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is on an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.
(From Robert Frost’s Two Tramps in Mudtime, the first long-ish poem I decided to memorize)
1/2 mile. When does it become a decision between a walk and a bike ride?
great question. Honest answer is that it generally depends on whether or not I’ve left my bike leaning against the side of the house… if I’ve put it away in the basement, I generally walk.
Stunning. And, perfectly timed for another spring snowfall last night.