The Great Blue Heron flew over the house shortly before dawn this morning with its raucous announcement: the others will be returning to the tall dead trees in the swamp to begin the spring refurbishing of the nests…large constructs of dead branches lined with fine twigs and green leaves. “Remote, inaccessible situations are favored.”
This is where we live. In the woods abutting that swamp. In a house we built section-by-section by hand. Time was, this was a remote and almost-inaccessible place, particularly in the dead of winter with snow drifts blocking the paths or in March when the dirt roads thawed into hubcap-deep mud. The town center—not much more than a general store, two churches, a fire station, a post office and a two-pump gas station—seemed further away than the actual four miles that separated us. And Portsmouth, the coastal city twenty miles to our east, was a place we visited only with a clear purpose and some preparation.
Two decades later, everything has changed in predictable ways. Paved roads leading to parkways and highways. More people. Housing developments. New schools. Traffic lights. Restaurants. Banks.
Two decades later, not everything has changed. Dawn light filters through the forest and turns the evening violet and orange. The bowl of the night sky contains the moon and stars undimmed. The length of the Isinglass River still runs freely, clear and teeming with trout. Fall frosts fire the maples and oaks. Winter blizzards leave us wrapped in silence. Spring urges sap upwards and we borrow a few gallons to preserve as syrup. And early summer will see the new heron chicks fledge and depart.
Today, as winter melts into damp March, I am writing from these coordinates. On a computer connected to cable and wifi. With a small fire in the cookstove, and a glass of wine on my desk. I will be sending this letter to you in Seville via email. I can even attach a photo, so I shall. With warm thoughts.
Lat: 43.22°N Lon: -71.04°W Elev: 308ft. Rain Fog/Mist 57°F/14°C