It was once suggested to me by a friend in rural Missouri who lived in an old Sears and Roebuck house—a Victorian beauty without a lick of insulation—that old houses keep cool all summer because they have not yet completely thawed from winter. Like that old house retaining winter, I would like to keep summer in this old place. Least I forget what summer in Vermont feels like, I hope to remember the fledglings on their first days—the explosion of baby wrens from the box, robins pleading with their young to leave the grassy nest in the apple tree, common yellowthroats learning to hunt the brushy hillside like children in the bush, and sparrows too, so heavy as they forage together, you would swear it was a family of gophers.
I hope to remember the waxwings hovering over the river for insects, and descending on the berry bushes, which I gladly share; and the goldfinches who wait until the thistle has ripened before settling down to nest, after playing like teenagers all summer; the non-stop singing of male vireos, thrushes, sparrows, warblers, buntings, and of course, wrens proclaiming their genetic superiority over interlopers; and the painful chill, if only for a moment, of diving into the pond for a swim with the loons in sight.
I hope to remember the ever vigilant two little brown dogs on the porch focused intently on the family of whistle pigs grazing in the clover down below, and their ear-piercing barks when the doe moves gently downstream watching, yet not much concerned, over the two behind the fence.
Artists have their own versions of jokes about asking nature to tone the green down a bit, for, “How is one to paint with all this green?” But at some point, even the green grows weary and says, “I’m done! You reds and oranges can have a go.” But then the whole operation shuts down, shutters the windows, and drops it all to the ground, like a blanket for bears and turtles and snakes. When the very wood that held the leaves is now in my arms heading into the basement woodstove, and the cold air from the north brings November’s awful quiet, will I remember the wren, and the too much green, and feel a soft warm breeze on my arms?