(Maple syrup on snow.)
Golden light fills my studio, the first of the morning. The sun, just up, climbs the rungs of the trees. Its smooth white disc of light is etched with a crosshatching of twigs, snow dusted and dark. Last night I made plans to wake up and write for an hour while the newness of day still holds some secrets in. So I am here, wearing my husbandâ€™s burly wool sweater and socks pulled up to my calves. My hair is still rumpled from sleep. I havenâ€™t brushed my teeth. But something feels alive in me that allows me to fling a few unguarded sentences at the page.
After forty minutes of revising, the light spreading across my room has turned pale and bright with day. The sun has climbed skyâ€™s ladder now, its face well above the trees, and the mountains look like cardboard cut-outs along the horizon, painted dusty blue. I go down to the kitchen where DH is mopping spilled coffee from the soapstone counter, and Bean, wearing his blue striped train conductor hat, is twirling about the room. Theyâ€™ve made a fire, but itâ€™s still cold. I pour coffee and maple syrup and milk into a pan and reheat it until the steam rises, and then pour it into a white enamel mug. With a stack of buttered toast, I head back upstairs, back to this desk piled high with books and papers where I wait for words to fit the empty spaces on the page.
After revising the entire essay, reworking sections again and again until the words fit together into a mosaic that I can understand, and that, at least in part, take on the shape of what Iâ€™m trying to know, they bust into my studio grinning. Itâ€™s 10am now and my coffee is cold. DH is ready for a shower, but before he goes he pulls me close, his hands traveling up under my sweater touching my hot skin. Bean circles my studio, a wreck after preparing for my showing. Empty frames litter the floor. Scraps of paper, one shearling clog, a case of rubber alphabet stamps. He sings, tunelessly, sweetly, as he collects and reorganizes the loot this space provides: tabs of watercolor paint, the wingnuts on the easel, a drawer full of cards, a futon frame without the mattress. He lies on it, his legs and arms spread out to account for the gaps. Perfect balance.
I finish reading This Autumn Morning, by Gretel Ehrlich. Itâ€™s an essay in the 1991 collection of Best American Essays, and it speaks to me in a language I know: one of loss and natural wonder both. As I read I relearn something about this art form that I love. That words can travel around and around the heart of whatever it is youâ€™re trying to say, like the circles spreading outward from a pebble tossed. They do not need to go straight like arrows.