March brings rain and snow and rain again: a mix of mud and ice, of thaw and snap.
In one week, we go between 55º and -5º. The next week, we’re back to the mid-30s, with frozen ground and running brooks. Hoar frost holds up layers of pressed leaves, and my footsteps sound hollow, giving me the feeling I may break through the forest path at any moment as I climb the old logging road with my dog.
Sugaring season is here, and so is town meeting: two New England phenomenons. Both a waking up of sorts, as sap flows beneath the bark and communities break out of winter.
I grew up in a town too big for traditional town meetings; imagine over 5,000 people in a debate. But here in Worcester, where just under 1,000 people live, we gather in the school gym to agree and disagree and eat a pot-luck lunch, followed by homemade pies and cookies. Parents drop children off to middle school students playing baby-sitter in the school library, and back in the gym each item is concluded with a voice vote, all in favor say “yea.”
Not everyone comes—it’s not a state holiday, and many still have to work—but it’s a lively crowd.
As we debate on school budgets and library funding, outside ravens croak and soar above the farm field. Freezing rain and rain is due for today, which may or may not have any impact on the generosity we’ll feel toward votes of increased spending. Last year’s town meeting was blue skies, and still I walked by a woman who noted to her friend, “I always vote no on everything.”
I’m sure, just as she voices her nay, there are people who go in to vote yea on the entire ballot.
I trust in the balance.
The maple trees, the ravens, the hoar frost and flowing streams teach me how. Inside the greenhouse, the smell of potting soil reminds me of waking up, and I plant my heart in the invisible web of microbes and fungi that give life to the soil, and, inevitably, to us.