far too much writing, far too many photos

Since returning to the west side of the Atlantic (leaving behind sweet, full-bore Madrid springtime for Vermont’s slow, teasing, often fickle turn from late winter toward the warm season), have been dealing with the backwash of the last months in Madrid and the prospect of making drastic changes in what remains of my life in this part of the world. Vermont countryside slowly shifts away from winter austerity, the mornings bringing birdsong instead of winter silence, while my system makes the transition from Spanish life (not a sedate tea party of a process).

Outside, after a stretch of springlike days, the green of newly awoken grass is frosted with sprawling sprays of dandelions. Above, the sky reflects my inner state, going blue to gray and back unpredictably, often in open defiance of the forecasts. Behind all that, I feel a steady source of light, and when I take a moment to count blessings, I find plenty to be grateful for.

One evening of an especially springlike day, me in the living room watching a DVD of the series Weeds. Birds come and go at the feeder outside an open dining room window. The credits roll, ‘Tea for the Tillerman’ plays over them. At the window, a purple finch joins in, bursting into loud joyous song, its music resonating through the rooms at this end of the house.

In recent days:

In Montpelier: a truck sports a sticker in its rear window reading I DON’T KNOW. I can relate.

Visiting friends in Cambridge, Mass., spring putting on a spectacular show of flowering trees and bushes — vibrant displays of white, pink, rose, lavender everywhere. Out trekking around the city’s eastern reach, coming across a Frank Gehry building, it looking like a something plucked from a comic book and planted in the middle of an otherwise normal urban street.

Milkweed fluff drifts through country air, sometimes thick enough that driving through it feels like entering a spring snowstorm.

I watch ‘No Direction Home,’ for the next two days ‘Visions of Johanna‘ occupies the #1 slot in my internal jukebox, portions of it drifting softly through my thoughts over and over (relieved now and then by bits of ‘It’s Alright, Ma….‘). A gentle soundtrack that softens some of the days’ rougher edges.

This inner jukebox thing? Sometimes I have no problem with it at all.

I’m up far too early as I write this, my body still working on Spanish time. Outside, darkness slowly gives way to daylight, the temperature hovers just above freezing. An online weather map shows a band of showers moving in our direction. Time to call it quits, slip back between the sheets for a while.


España, te echo de menos

This evening, northern Vermont:

España, te echo de menos

This afternoon: standing in a bank in Montpelier, Vermont, writing out a deposit slip in the amount of one dollar in pennies. Realizing at some point that they had a radio station piped in, my hand stopped writing as the music registered, Brian Wilson’s voice soft and clear, singing ‘Good Vibrations.’ Which for some reason triggered a memory from this last Tuesday morning, me sweeping the floor in the living room of the flat in Madrid, the room austere, empty of most everything belonging to me apart from a battered boombox (hardy, dependable despite ten years of hard use, including a trip from one side of the Atlantic to the other) set to Radio 3, Iggy Pop’s version of ‘China Girl’ reverberating off the space’s white walls.

Out in the hallway, workers continue ripping down the plaster ceiling. The noise filters through two doors — to the flat, then to the living room — pounding and voices reduced to a level that made it all somehow coexist harmoniously with Iggy.

Not sure exactly how long I stood like that in the bank, immersed in my recent past. Ten, fifteen seconds. Came to, blinked, finished writing deposit slip, brought it to a window where the fact of depositing one dollar in pennies provoked laughter from the teller, pretty eyes closing to become pretty slanted lines for an instant as she laughed, face radiating a degree of enjoyment not often seen in that sober institution.

So. Back in northern Vermont, my bod still on European time, waking me up at ungodly hours. Temperature outside the dining room window this morning, 7 a.m.: 24° F. Skies gray, trees showing the first meager traces of green, grass beginning to show some life. As I walked in the kitchen door a couple of hours ago, movement outside caught my eye, I turned to see the curve of a hawk’s shadow glide quickly across the grass. One in a constant stream of reminders that I’m not in Madrid any more.

Not in Madrid. (For now.)


Yesterday, Logan Airport, Boston::

España, te echo de menos

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