It is mid-March in Vermont. Typically, this is met with multiple feet of snow: skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, building a snow cave, these are the things that we do outside during my family reunion every year. (Inside activities include cooking, eating, drinking, talk-yelling at each other, reading, playing board games, taking naps, and completing puzzles.)
(The backyard, winter 2012. That’s my husband making lines down the hill.)
But this year, we can’t do any of those outside things because there is not any snow. Pockets of snow scatter the ground, but only enough to look at and lament the ever-ominous impacts of global warming.
(The same backyard this year. Climate change is REAL, y’all…)
Instead, this morning after breakfast, a few of us went for a walk. My aunt and uncle’s house is at 2400 feet elevation, so two miles meant a looooong mile down the mountain and a steep mile back up.
We leashed up the dogs and started out. J wore the hiking backpack with K bundled in a jacket, hat, and mittens, but the rest of us enjoyed bite of the air and the sharp, crisp sunlight. The road is paved, a twisting series of switchbacks and blind curves, but only a single car passed us the entire hour of our trek; even the houses every dozen yards were empty, eyeless windows reflecting back blue skies and our passing forms.
In that emptiness, the surrounding woods held our voices, suspended our conversation as we marched down the pavement, up the hills. K fell asleep, head bobbing against the support of the backpack’s sunshade. The dogs sniffed and blinked in the sunshine. The wind ruffled the hair on top of my hat-less head. We watched the dull brown of the leaves rustle in the undergrowth as we passed.
Things change. Patterns of being, official and unofficial rituals. This year’s family reunion has been similar, but different; even K’s being a year older, a toddler, has changed things. Life will keep changing, the pacing speeding up as we get older (I love this website to explain why that is), and nothing will be the same, the least of all the environment, relationships, politics, pop culture, pedagogy, technology — everything. It’s a little frightening, the ever-changing chaos, the necessity to keep going in the face of daily not knowing.
But for now, I will enjoy the sunny day, the walk in the woods, the breath in my lungs, just being alive.