One of those mornings, the sky soft and promising after a few days of chilly rain and snow creeping down the mountain behind our house, one of those mornings when you turn to each other in bed, saying, Where did they go, the years? Because in another month, you’ll be listening for Swainson’s thrushes just beyond your window, the robins, the long whistles of the varied thrushes, you’ll be planting out the peas you’ve started by the woodstove, looking for the first wild violets, the bleeding hearts.
Where the years went I can’t say;
I just turned around and they’ve gone away.
Which year was it you saw the wolf lope across the grass, the sow bear with her twins in the old orchard, which year was it when you stood with some of the grandchildren around a bonfire, in March, burning decades of windfall?
I’ve been siftin’ through the layers
Of dusty books and faded papers.
They tell a story I used to know
And it was one that happened so long ago.
Was it only last year the snowshoe hare hid under daylilies when you discovered it trying to wriggle under the new fence, was it four years ago, or six, when you dug up a clump of crocus, blooming underground, buried during the reconstruction of the septic field, was it ten years ago, or twenty, when the dogs curled up in the woodshed while deer pillaged the irises in the small pond?
The finest hour that I have seen
Is the one that comes between
The edge of night and the break of day.
It’s when the darkness rolls away.
So you listen again to Kate Wolf, her radiant voice gathering all the years together, where they begin, where they end.