This morning, two days before the first of June, the thermometer hovered at 32 degrees. Although the house shingles and the car windshield were lightly coated with frost, the garden seems to be undamaged. Still, it's not exactly thriving in this cold spring. All of the plants are tiny, bright green, and refrigerated. Even the blackflies are refrigerated, which is a minor plus. But on the whole, I'd rather be warm and bitten.
So instead of filling baskets with fresh lettuce, I've been drafting an essay about women, poetry education, and changing definitions of the academy. I've been checking proofs for a publisher and receiving many rejection letters. I've written a couple of new poems: one for the western Pennsylvania project, one unrelated. I've been rereading Hermione Lee's biography of Virginia Woolf and making my way through Betsy Sholl's new poetry collection, Otherwise Unseeable. I've been thinking about writing a essay that centers on recent books by Maine women poets: not only Betsy's but also Lee Sharkey's Calendars of Fire and Weslea Sidon's The Fool Sings. I've been composing introductions for this year's Frost Place faculty poets and planning a pilot writing workshop for a local domestic-violence organization. I've been cheating on crossword puzzles and learning to sing Elvis Costello's "Alison" and Neil Young's "Powderfinger." I've been mowing grass and mulching raspberries and pruning lilacs. I've been taking the excitable dog-cat posse for walks in the forest, and drinking too much coffee with my college boy, and sighing about the embarrassing Red Sox with my high school boy, and beating Tom at cribbage. I've been applying for jobs and applying for grants and coaxing people to sign up for the teaching conference and fretting about what to wear to this awards ceremony tonight. I've been falling asleep during every single TV show I try to watch. I've been waking up at 2 a.m. and listening to owls and sinking into dreams in which Maine's terrible governor has transmogrified into a terrible elementary school principal. I've been rising at dawn and fixing yet another pot of coffee and watching the mist rise over clotheslines loaded with wet clothes, over a chicken-less chicken house, over the phosphorescent blooms of the plum tree. Time slips on.