Today they are still here,
and I am too, in late September.
My hummingbird pair. One darts in
to feed, the other perches
drinking deeply, tipping her head back
to let the nectar slide.
I feel that energy sweet and cool
down my throat.
Their absence looms, a large bell
with muffled clappers tolling
unopposed, reddening the trees,
exiling light, ushering in cold.
Lately the question, will they
visit me again, or will there be
someone else looking out my window
twelve months on?
Each year it is harder let them go,
as if there were a choice.
On my way home the penny dropped. It was one of those early fall days with a vivid blue sky, the kind that surrounds me with color and sensation, my brain revving up from the joy of it all.
Passing Fitzwilliam Road, glancing at the road sign, I thought no kidding, really? Let’s see now. Driving home, our road is Mountain Road and I’m headed toward Mt. Monadnock. Coming up from Troy, Monadnock Street ends at Mountain Road with a perfect view of the mountain behind our house.
Hmmm, folks from Marlborough call our road Jaffrey Road, because of course, that’s how you get to Jaffrey from there.
And that was it. I was in. I had hacked the country road code. Road signs mean what they say around here, for the most part, anyway.
There is, I’ll admit, a Road Number Four which meanders from Route 12 past a beautiful marsh, woods with streams, some interesting old houses and a farm stand before ending at Templeton Turnpike. So, not all the time.
Chalk that one up to a misguided flatlander. Which I’m not anymore. At least not a flatlander, and I’m fairly certain about the other.
Living up here has been a heart’s wish for a long time. It is obvious to me now that I followed the right signs, one at a time, to end up at the foot of this mountain.
Back in 2005, the one thing I was certain of was the need to leave the city, the house we were in, the life we led, to a simpler place, to be near family. My husband Mike was not well, was not going to get better, so we migrated north.
It was wonderful for both of us to be closer to nature, in a town where offseason rush hours emptied the streets by 6. Better, but I never felt truly at home. It just wasn’t simple enough, wild enough, but I’d accomplished what I set out to do with the move. It was okay.
Fourteen months later life took a drastic turn, when Mike died very suddenly and unexpectedly. He had been sick a long time, and the man I knew had been gone a long time as well, taken by the effects of Parkinson’s and dementia. The long goodbye on a road with no signs.
By the second month anniversary of his death I saw quite clearly that I could either fall apart on the 19th of each month, or use it as a celebration of what was positive in my life, a mile marker of achievement, something to applaud.
So I did just that, each month celebrating the milestones, letting Mike know, as I touched the sign on the memorial bench outside our community center. Hey, Mike, guess what?
And so it went, mile marker by mile marker, to dating for the first time in almost 40 years, online no less. Meeting the man I would marry four years later, moving to New Hampshire in 2009.
Living first in a charming old school house in Peterborough, nice enough but it was temporary. Aggie, our Newfie puppy, came along.
The next spring we found and bought a wonderful old house, built in 1796, next to an iconic pond with the mountain right behind it. The woods full of owls, deer, coyotes, birds, smaller creatures.
A year ago, after much searching, the road led to Horace, my dream lab pup. He is my joy and Aggie’s boon companion.
So here we all are. At the intersection of two roads leading to the mountain. And that’s how I got here, by reading the signs.