“I have always looked upon decay as being just as wonderful and rich an expression of life as growth.” —Henry Miller
This past Thursday I drove to Thompson’s Mills to see if it would still speak to me. I hadn’t visited since late spring, and wasn’t sure how—or if—the old building would welcome me as it always had, in its secretive but friendly way. To compound things, she’s going through some difficult physical changes at the moment (why do we say she when speaking of old boats and buildings?). The basement is closed for extensive repairs (flood damage, and the pull of gravity on historical bones), and the machinery can’t be run until a rotted beam supporting a drive mechanism is replaced. The ankle bone is connected to the shin bone, et cetera.
But I shouldn’t have worried.
“The whole universe is based on rhythms. Everything
happens in circles, in spirals.” —John Hartford
On Saturday, somewhere along the right-of-way where power lines undulate up the hill behind us, a branch from a towering fir fell onto a line—or branches, as many came down under the weight of snow and freezing rain—and in an instant our lights were out. And heat—we would miss that most over the next three tiring days. My propane camp stove has a cousin now, a Little Buddy indoor-safe heater, from Mr. Heater, and it worked really well—our cats found it quickly. And I thought about my ancestors, and how difficult it would be for us to live in the conditions that were normal then.
On a trip outside I slogged through crusty snow and passed this robin as it sat, shivering, on a patch of impenetrable whiteness, any food it could have found locked away for at least another day. Too long for this bird, I knew. There was nothing to do but accept that nature works this way. And feel a little sadness that, come March, spring’s choir will be missing one of its vibrant voices.
“Alas! in winter, dead and dark,
Where can poor Robin go?”