Friday, April 8, 2016

April 8: Old Snakeskin, Alberta Clipper, Eula Biss

Yesterday I set out to catch the new season, and instead I found an old snakeskin.  I was in the sunny February woods by the quarry; the snakeskin was lying in a heap of leaves right next to an aquarium someone had thrown away.  I don't know why that someone hauled the aquarium deep into the woods to get rid of it; it had only one broken side.  The snake found it handy, I imagine; snakes like to rub against something rigid to help them out of their skins, and the broken aquarium looked like the nearest likely object.  Together the snakeskin and the aquarium made an interesting scene on the forest floor.  It looked like an exhibit at a trial--circumstantial evidence--of a wild scene, as though a snake had burst through the broken side of the aquarium, burst through his ugly old skin, and disappeared, perhaps straight up in the air, in a rush of freedom and beauty.

Dillard sets out to find spring.  She is being hopeful.  February is not always the kindest of winter months, and yet she troops out into the woods, looking for green signs.  Blades and buds and blossoms.  Instead, she finds garbage--a discarded aquarium and a snakeskin.  Nature reclaiming, making use of something alien to create something new, fresh life.

Today, hardly any snow fell in my little corner of the Upper Peninsula.  Snow fell, but not enough to shovel.  That doesn't mean I can stow away my shovels in the garage.  There are still purple blobs of winter weather sitting on the map of the U. P.  This weekend is going to be cold and white, like a Trump family reunion.

I'm not going to complain all Saturday and Sunday about gray skies and Alberta clippers (I have no idea if what we are about to experience is the result of an Alberta clipper, but I've always wanted to use "Alberta clipper" in a blog post).  You're all probably getting tired of my weather rants, anyway.  So, tomorrow I promise to write about something besides precipitation that needs to be plowed.

My daughter's friend who's a boy has been staying with us this whole week.  He has helped me shovel a few times.  He's a good kid, quiet and funny.  My daughter met him at Bible Camp in the summer.  He came last Friday, and his presence in our house always seems to be accompanied by tremendous winter storms.  I'm beginning to think that he's some kind of weird changeling snow child.

He'll be here until Sunday night.  Long enough to help me shovel a few more times.  I'm going to miss him when he leaves.  Last night, he accompanied me to a reading at the university.  The readers were Eula Biss and Jen Percy, both fantastic essayists.  He came with me alone, to "bond" with me.  After the reading I took him out for ice cream at Dairy Queen.  Yes, I went on a date with him, and I enjoyed myself quite a bit.

Plus, my daughter's friend helps me shovel.

If Saint Marty could adopt this kid, he would.

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