the ice and the sky are different shades of the same early morning, subtle pink through dreary white and beige and grey and the faintest of blue bouncing off from somewhere in between the browns of dried grasses and leafless trees.
i look down the frozen lake at the beaver lodge as I’m putting on my skates for the first time in almost a year, loosening the laces and then re-loosening the laces, finally my feet fit and slide in snug.
the cold air is still and awake and i am alive in it. i remember how to move, slowly, steadily, and probably not the most gracefully yet something so elegant about not lifting up clumsy feet, and pretending instead that i float on this water turned solid
i stay on the far side of the lake from the beaver lodge because things look watery over there, they break the ice around their lodge from below with their heads, or their tails , or something s says and the dusting of snow on the ice is perfect to see the tracks of a canine leading from our near shore to the lodge that just can’t be a domestic dog because dogs are too clumsy to make straight lines like that.
in the dream i have an extra outer layer of skin on my hands, thin and peeling and
cracked in many places.
inside the cracks i see small pantry moths crawling and cocooning and growing and i am just freaked out enough to tear away at the skin to rip off the outer layer.
to make myself a new skin i take a new piece of special paper and cut out the shape of a hand
hiking to the beaver ponds we have to thrash our way through overgrown mountain laurel and high bush blueberry, winding around swampy muck and side stepping sloshy puddles. t says wouldn’t it be easier if mammoths were still alive?, instead of deer trails, we would all just follow mammoth trails.
at first we hear the owls, barred?, and then the coyotes, two, maybe four?, announcing themselves with yips and howls, and we can’t help but
stop our hurried walking (the light is fading, and are we going to make it down the mountain before we can’t see anymore?) to smile and listen to everything that happens in this place at the edge of day and night
an indoor picnic of pomegranate, salted almonds, pickled onions and rhubarb apricot jam on toast
arranged on a milk crate table on a solid oak floor. and not to mention the piece of dark chocolate and the four paper bags of different types of seaweed hand-harvested off the coast of maine. tasting the differences between sea lettuce and kelp and irish moss
while wet boots balance on the edge of desk above the
radiator waiting to dry.
from where we stand i see the woods is washed with the muted yellow color of goodbye
i trace the outlines of tree friends changing costumes
letting go of leaves
and scan the periphery for witch hazel flowers my favorite all of them are your favorite, but what’s especially special about witch hazelis that they bloom thin tendrils of yellow just aseverythingelse is falling apart
the pledge to notice, and to pin down the noticings like dried flowers
on the notecards on my table, again
learning gomphrena, the flower that comes in hues of purple and red and the kind with yellow dashes on the tips, fireworks, feeling thankful for the papery bracts that lend themselves easily to visions of bright winter window decorations
‘soak up the sun’ I say to the first graders walking on the farm who are complaining that they are hot and they are thirsty, and when can they sit down, ‘ because it will be winter sooner than we think!’ I say even though that is hard to imagine in the 80 degrees and not even 11am on this mid-October morning
ordering hot and sour soup for the third time in two weeks from the same restaurant under the bridge, this time its dark outside and raining. inside its all smiles we’re laughing and shouting and reaching out with our arms to underscore injustices and gesticulate our fantasies of growing 15 foot perennial grasses in 10 foot long garden beds so sometimes I become conscious of how much louder we are than the older couple sitting at the table next to us, but they don’t seem bothered and the red hue of the wallpaper and the soft maroon of the napkins and the spicy warming liquid is warming more than just the inside of my stomach.
in the dream the cocoon of the monarch appears to be drying out, it swells and shows preemptive signs of hatching. panicking, i cover it with a cloth in an effort to keep it in the dark a little longer, to let it continue to gestate.
but it hatches anyway, and i witness the still birth of a butterfly, its pale orange wings not fully formed.
when I wake up i forget the dream until
i am in the kitchen making eggs for breakfast and i see
the clear container on the counter where the monarch cocoon hangs on a mesh screen, and it doesn’t look swollen or dried out. the colors are deepening to black, signs of almost readiness to emerge. the gold spotted trim gleams.
picture of health.
i had written my estimate of when it would hatch on the side of the box due date 9/17 which happens to be tomorrow, so there is still a little bit of time.
exercising our minds at dusk
in the sand plains, right
below the power lines, listening to the chorus
i mean orchestra of crickets and katydids and field sparrows and there’s the whippoorwill and towhee and i don’t remember any other names but it actually makes the sounds easier to distinguish from each other because I’m not caught up in the names but instead in the octaves,
and i am paying attention to whether a call is metallic and staccato or soft and warbly. or
can you sing that note? t asks, and i try but it is too high for me.
at the end of the night, when it is totally dark
except for the almost half moon light, I hear a chirp that is loud and sharp and regular and different than the others, so I jab my finger in the air, in the direction where I think it is coming from.
no one else can hear the sound. i keep pointing my finger along to its rhythm and
still no one else hears the sound.
t acknowledges that high frequencies are hard for him, and the rest of them it seems,
and still no one else hears the sound,
c plays all sorts of different options on his smart phone, is it a Carolina ground cricket or a two spotted, striped, pine tree, field, but none of them sound the same as what I hear. ‘still, lets follow it,’ we say, so my young ears lead us to the grassy patch where the yet unnamed cricket is singing.