Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Slight Thaw.

It feels like I have been out of town a long time.

It feels like I've been somewhere familiar, like maybe out on the Natchez Trace outside of Nashville, living in a house that looks very much like this one, shelves full of books almost the same as the books we have here, almost the same yard, almost the same half-finished building sitting down in the low spot. But not the same. Not here. Somewhere else. This has been a winter crammed with weather, with coastal lows and fronts spinning up out of Texas and the Gulf and across from Oklahoma and we have even repaired and replaced sump pumps and still somehow it hasn't mattered like it should, has been like weather heard through wads of cotton stuffed in my ears. It doesn't feel like I quite remember Thanksgiving, Christmas, January. Can't find the lines between the long drive to Binghamton two Octobers ago and the long drive the October before that. Being in the car feels like being in the car, feels like any other drive. It's been cold for seven or eight weeks straight now. Snow's still on the ground from either the last snow, or the snow before, or both. It's getting lighter earlier in the evenings, but slowly, like a bad faucet. Some of the spring birds are arriving, but even they seem off, seem desperate. Which day was it last week or the week before that saw hundreds of robins eating every berry off the holly in La Vieja Nueva's back yard? There was snow on the ground. That narrows things, but only some. There was a wind that blew some of the junked aluminum siding out of its pile and across the yard. Blew the tarp off my firewood. Blew rain into the catboxes. Blew rain through the windows and under the door in that outbuilding. We have made soups, have roasted chickens, have eaten potatoes. I have learned to tell time in the mornings by the color of the light in the hallway when it's sunny. On clouded-over days, it could be any time I might get out of bed. The rain gauge is broken, is ice-shattered. It has rained and rained, but I don't know how much. The sump pump kicks on, sends the water back where it came from, probably to come back in again. We bought sofas. We needed sofas. We'd been living a life without sofas. It is already past the center of February. The mail comes. The wheelbarrow tire's gone flat. There's a ruined door propped against the fence I'm saving for my old landlord. The maple out back is dripping sap. The rabbits shit in the yard overnight, and the dog goes searching every morning, stands out there and eats. Coffee. Dinner. Bananas in the freezer for some banana bread we might never make. Forced paperwhites blooming on the kitchen table.

And then this morning, big plans in hand to go out back to the building that's either here or there and see if I can carry through whatever it was I was working on the last time I was out there, the dog stood at the door, asked to go out, pulled us down into the park. We take the walk most days. The park's scoured in places from the two or three floods we've had since I last payed serious attention. It's still cold out there, sunny, snow on the ground in the shadows under the trees, up against the houses. Ducks in the sewage creek down there in the bottom. Kids' toys in the playground, half the mulch from under the swings flooded out into the grass. But something felt different, finally, quieter, maybe better. More like here. The sounds were right, the trucks banging by out on Battleground, the Credit Union building whining away up on the hill. Folks around here plant their daffodils in ground harder than I'd try, but they're coming up anyway, out of the clay at the bases of all these oaks. The dogwoods don't look great, don't look like they have enough buds, but we'll see. Whatever owl it is that never knows it isn't dark out is going, is calling out for something. The kids at the church daycare come out on sunny days at eleven, scream at each other, pilot those stationary playsets to god knows where. The dog stopped at everything today, sniffed each leaf there was. Halfway down the hill, there's a house that's got a yard that's greening over in earnest, that's full of those tender wild crocus, dozens of them sending up tight purple blooms, not open yet, but it'll be this week, you can tell. The dog sniffed at the base of the stone wall down there, at hibernating ants and last Tuesday's signal left by one dog or another. I looked at the crocus. I didn't get to write. I have to go to work. I'm beat to shit and the house is a wreck. I have more things to do than time to do them. But I felt better. And the funny thing: I knew I would when I rounded the corner and found the dog at the door.

We are looking at slightly warming weather. We may see the fifties by the weekend. We're going to be dry for a few days. It's going to be a good time to pick up some construction trash, to maybe go out and replace that rain gauge. If we can get that sun a little higher up off the horizon, and if we can catch a day without wind, it'll soon enough be time for sitting outside. Not all of us are greening over. Nothing much out there is blooming. But look closely at some of the trees. They're sending something out. Look at the branch tips in the evenings: they're getting fuzzy. We're weeks away from leaves. But we may finally be trying.