We have not posted in a week... That may be the longest period that we have gone without words since we began this process. Both of us have been whirling, and there has been little time for the sedentary task of posting our thoughts, much less thinking . But today, after traveling from Vermont, to Boston, to New York, to Boston, to Vermont in a matter of days, I have returned to my desk beside the wood stove, with snow on the ground for the first time this year. It is only about three inches rather than the predicted ten but there is something meditative in it, something that I need. There are sap buckets on the trees across the street as well. That is a sign of Spring, and it comes paired with the first winter we have had on the land. Neither will last long. It is supposed to be in the 40's in the next few days - good for the sap but that too will transition, and the snow too will melt.
These are little things.
These are the little things that make up our lives.
I sat with our friend Emmett today after he ran the snow blower. Then he taught me to do it and as with most men, they show you how it's done, and then when you want to try, they let you try, but take over to finish the work themselves. It is an infernally noisy thing, but it works. A little thing. It saves our backs - well truly Herb's back when he shovels. I have been known to let the snow accumulate beyond the point of safety. Like mowing the lawn, and raking the leaves, there are values to be upheld, and I don't do it very well, shocking the neighbors though they don't say so. It seems a little thing.
Emmett and I sat at the kitchen table, and one thing led to another as our talk always does, and he noted that he traced his career in the military to having taken a typing class in high school. He signed up for the Navy a few days after his 17th birthday. He had always wanted to serve, but there was a draft then, and he didn't want to be a grunt in the Army. He had always liked ships, probably since his grandfather took him to the working marinas near where he had grown up. He loved machines and wanted desperately to work on jet engines but instead they set him to work on helicopters with reciprocating engines. Instead he was offered an opportunity to work in electronics. Not what he wanted. They read him the list. "Public Affairs." Could he type 35 words a minute? He had taken a class in high school when most people thought you were gay if you took that class. But his penmanship was poor and he knew he'd have to fill out reports. If he could type, he reasoned....A little thing.
His career was repeatedly blocked by lack of a college education. When they opened up "limited duty" positions as officers, he was able to qualify as a Limited Duty Photographer. He couldn't drive a ship, but he could work at what he wanted to do. He had a shot at that because he had already worked at Reader's Digest and the New Jersey papers and as a teacher in college. One little thing leading to another.
I am teaching in one school because I was invited to do so by an ex-student who now chairs the program many years later. She became one of my closest friends. A little thing I did 20 plus years ago.
Herb and I met because of a little thing his colleague in grad school did when he shared a paper I had written with Herb. "You may find this of interest." A little thing.
I am living in Vermont because of a little thing I did many years ago in making a call to someone about potential jobs or research we shared an interest in. She was a hot shot at a hot shot technical and engineering university in New York, but when she was applying for tenure, a colleague in the Economics Department said they weren't about to start letting women in now. A little thing. Shortly after that she took a position as Provost at a small school in Vermont and invited me to apply for a job that I took. I left after a year but that was 12 years ago and I never (really) left Vermont again.
As I was leaving Boston yesterday, to drive in prodigious snow to a place of little snow, I realized that for the first time in my substantial life, I am married to someone who makes me feel at home. For me, home has always been in the woods and the mountains here. I am not sure when the transition happened. It wasn't on the day we got married. There were no kazoos, no ringing of bells. It was a little thing that happened when we were driving to work, and when he made an orange slushie for me when I got home after a long trip, or when he called from the ambulance and said, "I don't want you to freak out, but..." Maybe it was in the story that I would hear again and again for the rest of our lives- we call them lullabies. Now, home is with him (and the cats), and the woods and the mountains here. And it is his home too.
The Hallmark greeting cards would have us believe, "It's the little things that count." I think that's true. I am enormously grateful for the little things that mom's friends do to help - three wontons for dinner and a photo of her at an art opening; a movie and dinner and the washing up of dishes with another friend; the uncountable escorts to difficult visits with medical practitioners; the phone calls and emails and touch on the arm....
We are blessed by the little things. We don't know where they will take us.
I think I will go for a walk on my snowshoes purchased last year, and check out a sap bucket or two, and see where they take me.