Driving through Hadley just after sunset, Lily and I were both mesmerized by the quality of the light and landscape—the deepening blue above, the horizon still glowing, the dark silhouettes of the trees, the darkening farm fields covered in snow. I thought to myself, I know this light. It’s following me. It came to me, a freshet of reminiscence: a postcard sent to me by my boyfriend 25 years ago, with an image of Maxfield Parrish’s Hill Top Farm, Winter. He had written something on the other side to the effect of, let’s be cozy by the fire.
Another memory: I’m a teenager, dreaming of the future, imagining I would surely live someday in a farmhouse in Vermont with my husband and our ten children. (What was I thinking? Ten children? Oh, the feverish teenage vision.) It felt centering and safe to me, this romanticized view of my role as a farm-wife and mother, tucked into the folds of an ever-receding future that never quite arrives.
The boyfriends, the lovers, the real and mythic husbands, they are all Out There, in unknowable, fluid times and spaces, but they are not Here. The ten children, save one, shall remain unborn. I don’t live in a farmhouse on a farm.
The light, though. As if anything could be possessed, but still: I have the light. It remains. I won’t look to the house, the old visions, the security of defined relationships, the stamp of social approval—these things shed their meanings like snow off a pitched roof. What’s left is the waning light of the closest star, and the gathering flecks of stars further away, scintillating their ancient songs to this earthbound animal.