Twilight in February

The state of Vermont–the only New England state without an ocean coastline–is a rural place. And the hills in east-central Vermont, where I live, are rural even by Vermont’s standards. There’s an old saying in the Green Mountain State that there are more cows than people.  I’m not sure if that’s true statewide, but it is in the town where I live.  Just up the road, there is a family-owned dairy farm.  Sometimes, when I drive by it, I need to put the brakes on and stop to allow the cows to cross the road.  Cattle crossings are as much a part of the fabric of Vermont as skiing, maple syrup, and sharp cheddar cheese.  I don’t mind it, though.  In fact, I love it.  I enjoy the quiet, the forests, and the mountains that beckon in the distance.

 

I live in a house that sits atop a hill surrounded by meadow, which itself is ringed by woods on all sides, sixteen acres in all.  No neighbors can be seen from the house, and few can be heard.  Not that many people venture out of doors for long stretches of time.  It’s February, after all, and Vermont in winter is not for the faint of heart.

 

I don’t go outside myself as often as I should in winter.  Too often, the sub-freezing temperatures and arctic winds deter me.  But one evening, a week or so ago, just after sundown, I decided to don my gloves and boots and coat and take a walk out in the meadow behind the house.  For this time of year, the snow depth was modest–not even a foot.  That foot, however, felt like three or four as I trudged along, my feet barely sinking in, the crusty and icy surface hardened by a recent freezing rain.  It was an odd sensation.  The same expanse that I mow in summer covered beneath a shell of snow, the grass hidden, the flowers a distant memory from a warmer and more vibrant season.

 

I approached the pair of bare maple trees, in the front-middle of the meadow, that stand, side by side, like silent sentinels on guard duty, overlooking the property.  To the west, on this clear evening, there was still the faint afterglow of the just-vanished sun, visible through the woods in the distance.  Above me, the first handful of stars began to appear, and I knew, within the next several hours, on a crisp, clear night like this, there would soon be hundreds of them–giving the effect of an outdoor planetarium, the night sky a-glitter.  And to the east, rising above the birch grove behind me, a near-full moon lit the meadow in an orangish-blue glow.  It appeared close enough to reach up and touch, to call out to and half-expect an answer, or an echo.

 

I stood there, listening.  But there was nothing to hear.  The wind was calm.  The daytime denizens of the winter woodlands were no doubt hunkering down for the night, seeking shelter from the cold in caves and tree hollows and under logs and downed limbs.  The creatures of the night, meanwhile, the hardy ones who brave the subzero nocturnal temperatures, were nowhere to be seen, or heard.  Not yet.  For as much as my senses could discern, I was alone out here, in the middle of this meadow, on this starlit midwinter evening.  It was at once a sobering and comforting thought.

 

I trudged deeper into the meadow.  My footsteps were loud as they sought purchase on the ice-covered snow.  Around me, illuminated by the moonlight, I spotted wild turkey tracks, their three-toed hieroglyphics scattering this way and that, like a script waiting to be deciphered.  And I wondered.  Standing out there, in the frosty silence–would a story idea hit me, emerging out of the darkening twilight?  But then I stopped myself.  Ideas never come when called upon, when thought about, when desired.  At least not for me.  For me, they come when my mind is elsewhere, absorbed in something completely unrelated.  Nevertheless, it was so still, so quiet, so ideal for the muse to come a-calling.  I waited, stood there, a little bit longer.  Just in case.

 

Nothing came.  And the house, and warmth, beckoned.  I walked back up the meadow, pausing every now and again to savor the moment, to linger there.  More stars appeared overhead, as if by magic, their light, originating from somewhere in the long-ago past, reaching me at the end of a journey so boundless, our imaginations struggle to comprehend it.  There is a story in there somewhere, I am sure.  We are all made of stardust.

 

As I headed back inside, I felt invigorated.  Just for a while, I could forget about the upcoming week’s schedule and to-do list, the work that needed to be done, the dark and ominous direction of America’s politics.  Rather, I thought about potentialities, possibilities, infinities.  The way, when we begin a story, it can go in any number of directions, imbued with a lifeblood of its own.

 

And then, I went to my trusty PC, fired it up, and began to write.

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

25 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. foodinbooks
    Feb 25, 2020 @ 15:28:36

    It sounds oddly idyllic. I am a desert flower and I hate the cold increasingly with age, but you make it sounds quite enticing. I’m glad you found some writing inspiration from it, too.

    Reply

  2. The Eye-Dancers
    Feb 25, 2020 @ 20:13:29

    I certainly can relate to not liking the cold.:) It does not come naturally! But since it’s so cold so often in Vermont, I “try” to like it–at least some of the time.:)

    Reply

  3. leggypeggy
    Feb 25, 2020 @ 21:05:05

    Thank you for taking me on this glorious outing.

    Reply

  4. magarisa
    Feb 25, 2020 @ 21:21:16

    I love walking outside in the snow when the wind is calm. The place where you live sounds like a winter wonderland!

    Reply

  5. joannerambling
    Feb 25, 2020 @ 22:36:27

    Such a lovely walk

    Reply

  6. ritaroberts
    Feb 26, 2020 @ 20:11:56

    Like you I don’t go out enough unless I have to during the winter ,like shopping. for instance but when I am in awe of the scenery of mountains and snow on some of the mountains here in Crete. Thanks for sharing your photo’s and experience ..

    Reply

  7. Anna Waldherr
    Mar 01, 2020 @ 18:19:08

    Lovely. ❤

    Reply

  8. selizabryangmailcom
    Mar 04, 2020 @ 03:05:11

    What a beautiful journey. So well described, so full of potential!
    🙂

    Reply

  9. Ste J
    Mar 11, 2020 @ 06:59:50

    I thought about potentialities, possibilities, infinities. This line encapsulates everything, its both intimidating and exhilarating to have everything at one’s call. A thought provoking and beautiful scenery is called to mind, what an inspiration it must be.

    Reply

    • The Eye-Dancers
      Mar 13, 2020 @ 10:29:39

      Thank you! It really is an inspiration. Sometimes I need to take a step back and remind myself how fortunate I am to live in a natural wonderland like Vermont. It’s an ongoing battle, though, trying to appreciate the Vermont winter!

      Reply

  10. kutukamus
    Mar 15, 2020 @ 14:44:03

    Now that’s quite a starry way to start writing. Sounds good, really. 🍸

    Reply

  11. Anna Waldherr
    Mar 29, 2020 @ 15:30:31

    I hope you are staying safe during this difficult time.

    Reply

  12. Karina Pinella
    Apr 11, 2020 @ 03:38:10

    With such beautiful surroundings, I can see how it can be inspiring to write.

    Reply

  13. The Eye-Dancers
    Apr 12, 2020 @ 02:24:04

    Hi Karina! I am definitely fortunate to be here! It is a spectacular property and very quiet and peaceful.

    Reply

  14. Geri
    Apr 21, 2020 @ 15:05:39

    Thanks for the writing. Alone in the dark in the winter can bring on such wonderful thoughts as my mind wanders through the silence.

    Reply

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