In winter, we are always counting. Six snowstorms, two with ice, four without. Two nights without power; three days without school. One early dismissal; one delay. Two pairs of snow pants, one purple, one black (never worn); three pairs of mittens. Five mornings spent shoveling; two trips to the town garage for sand. Six hats, none of them quite right. One canceled birthday party, forty guests for breakfast on Christmas Eve. Three colds; one blister pack of antibiotics; four bottles of Elderberry Syrup; sixteen boxes of Kleenex. Three batches of chocolate chip cookies, one botched attempt at homemade pudding (too much cornstarch, not enough heat); one divine lamb stew brought by friends on a snowy Sunday night.
In summer, we don't count. We are too busy basking in the precious light, in the moving water and, in the words of e.e. cummings, "the leaping greenly spirits of trees and the blue dream of sky." Making our way through the summer is not an achievement; it is not a series of small victories, hard-won. And of course winter is not just that, either. But there is so much to be endured here in the hills before the rain and bloom of April (or May) that it is hard to keep yourself from keeping track.
And speaking of keeping track, this is my thirteenth column for Literary Mama. It is also my last. Thirteen columns. One about school; two about birthdays. One about chickens; two about lakes. Thirteen about my home and these hills and my family. Thirteen, I hope, about love.
Thirteen columns that glowed from the gentle polish of Nicole Stellon O'Donnell, who is one of the best editors I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Thirteen columns published here on this formidable site run by a mighty dedicated and talented crew of writers and editors. Thirteen columns read by kind and thoughtful readers who have honored me and my words with your time and careful consideration. I offer you all my infinite, unnumbered gratitude.