I live in so many lives — the one I just finished as a learning facilitator for month of Sundays in lively and balmy Australia was fun, enlivening, tiring, and of course an ego boost; being the center of attention is exhilarating but also draining.
One’s ego comes to earth very quickly on arriving home, suddenly plunged into an office crisis — its own world, tangles at home — another world, and urgent meetings in my second business, running a wharf. Also cold — home to a Maine just creaking awake today after the longest winter any of us can remember.
Still drugged from travel, and feeling whupped up side of the head from every angle, I went to take a walk around the neighborhood: The geese are back, honking noisily and moving nitrogen from place to place. Despite their excrement everywhere, they are eating up the bug larvae. We’ll thank them later; they are a welcome spring sound. The ducks alight on the ice still hanging in farm pond, hoping someone will come out with a ladle full of cracked corn, as they have been all winter. The horses are rooting around the dead grass in the pasture, but they are still living on last year’s hay. Simon, the barn cat, is cleaning himself up in the warmth of a sunny corner.
In the afternoon sun, every pile of anything — the manure and shavings stacks, wood chips, brush — looks soft, but it’s only on the surface; kick it to stub your toe on the solid ice inside. It’ll take some more sunny days and warm winds to melt away the cold heart set in place during the Tropic of Capricorn.
For my Aussie-thinned blood it’s very cold, but for the folks who’ve stayed here, this is the first warm day, and everyone’s out. Dirk’s pulling the tarp off the firewood for the summer drying period, and shows me the foundation for his planned two-car garage. Liam’s out with his mountain bike, checking tire pressure and clearances, blowing off the cobwebs as he whizzes around the potholed cove road. Annie’s out getting the greenhouse ready for seedlings once the threat of the frost has passed. Christa’s out on her determined walk. Ken’s pencil is behind his ear, squaring up to the jobs he left behind at first snowfall.
I move from conversation to conversation, catching up not just on my weeks away, but the whole winter. We all live in this tiny neighborhood, but we haven’t seen each other for months. Everyone goes to earth here in the winter, a form of social hibernation; we don’t move way out here because we’re overly communicative.
But today – and even though it cannot be put on the calendar there is this day every year – when everyone comes out and communes, when we get the kind of news you cannot get from Facebook. The promise if not the actuality of coming spring in the long sun loosens our tongues and has us looking up.