Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New England is the most beautiful place on earth.

Spring: peepers, pale golden sunlight, brooks running again, red maples with buds that turn the tops of the forest red, forsythia, green-tipped crocuses, that sweet evening smell of hay and dirt and water waking up, misty grey rain, apple blossoms, this year's fresh maple syrup, greens again, high, clear, gentle skies, that first day of sunshine, the snow still blanketed in the deep woods, when you take off your jacket and feel the warmth on your skin, wind that sings and doesn't bite, spotted salamanders in vernal pools, hunting for ramps and wild asparagas, the sunrise orange and brilliant and earlier every day, the peepers, the peepers singing all through the dusk.

Summer: rambling in the green woods, the light filtering through beech trees, mossy stone walls flooded with sun, cold sparkling creeks, grass as tall as your waste, fields of red clover, sunflowers, hard blue thunderstorms pounding on the roof, sweet corn minutes after harvest, silver dew on red russian kale, shelling peas on the porch of a 200 year-old farmhouse, sheep on pasture, concerts on town commons, white church steeples against the deepest, bluest sky, brown dirt roads, sugar maples in full leaf, late afternoon light on everything it touches (your hands, a crate of tomatoes, a loaf of bread, an apple tree loaded with fruit, honeybees, worn-down pickups, water), the scent of basil everywhere, little farms surrounded by woods and streams and old fence posts rotting in the soil, meadows full of insects, bare feet, dark, beautiful topsoil that crumbles in your hand (even if there isn't much of it).

Fall: the leaves, the leaves, the leaves, brilliant red sugar maples and golden beeches, oak and birch and sumac the color of sunset, hard blue days that smell like frost, apple pie, fresh cider, early darkness, Orion again, hard golden sunsets that leave your heart aching, the silver stream of your breath on cold mornings, pumpkins and acorn squash and golden beets and frost-sweetened carrots, stars so sharp and silver they sting, and the darkest nights to see them in, the smoke the rises from the chimneys of little houses in the woods, the vee's of geese flying south, the smell at dusk, hay-sweet, musty and sad, bittersweet, October rain tunneling against the window glass, the whole earth quieting down and curling up, the smell of cinnamon and cloves, bread baking, pumpkin pie, squash soup, bags of yellow onions, braids of garlic, and everywhere in the woods the leaves, little hearts, shimmering everywhere as they fall.

Winter: the color of cold that sharpens everything, bare branches against blue skies, black ice, frozen creeks, snow falling silently, the tracks of deer and birds and foxes through the quiet fields, clear nights, the light that comes back in January and dazzles you, sunlight on snow, frozen kale veined with ice, the smell of woodsmoke, Sunday afternoons cooking soup, the shape of the land under the snow, hilly and fierce, the still woods, being able to see the shapes of the trees, brown beech leaves rattling in the wind, darkness that seeps into the house and stills the heart, and yellow windows, the heart's defense, sharp, thin, blue shadows on the snow, lights in the trees, the smell of pine, evergreens, snowstorms that blur the edges of the world.

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