The Place That We Are In

February 17th, 2009

vermontsunshine.jpgI’ll admit that I was self-consciously aware of my solitude there in the woods adjacent to Chris and Meg’s Andover, Vermont, weekend house.

I knew the silence was to be relished, stored away for safe keeping when I needed it.

And so I relished the swish of the snow beneath my shoes, the twitter of birds, and the creak of the trees. I noticed how awkwardly I carried the axe, how poorly I swung it, and how resistant even previously-felled trees were to its blow. I spent over an hour in the woods quietly studying the contour of snow on the meadow, clouds on the sun, and ice on the branches while gathering firewood a mere three hundred yards from the house.

I knelt in the snow to consider cat tracks, investigate moss on an old stone wall, and a creek flowing slowly downhill beneath a thin crust of ice. More than once, it dawned on me that I was, in fact, chopping wood and carrying water.

It was a series of moments I hoped to save like a vitamin.

But even as I contrasted the weight of the axe, the ache of my muscles, and the warmth of the sun with the heft of a pen, the hum of fluorescents, and the shadowy chill of Times Square, the self consciousness slipped away. I forgot what I was doing, where I was, or why it mattered. I just was.

A bead of sweat tracked down my temple. I squirrel leapt between branches. I breath slipped between my lips.

I curled my arms around my small bundle of logs, placed them in a sled piled high with firewood, and turned towards home. Traipsing quietly through that snowy field, it dawned on me that these moments aren’t transferable like some existential savings account. They are finite. This moment is it: the place the we are in. And it’s more than enough. It has to be.