January 11, 2014

One week after the blizzard and it is over fifty degrees, and sunshine and vitamin D and westwind burn. And I do the Genehouse walk and it is like sailing. The hills are saturated; the rocks are glistening with winter’s sweat. The river’s ice sweats and a lone great blue heron plies the sinkholes along the island. Eagles perch on glass and aim heads down; nervous gulls aim heads up.

I shed coat, hat, gloves and I sweat my way west on the River Road walk. A sluice of snow ahead and birds speckle its surface. I ski the snow drift, stopping when I hear excited chirping at my feet. Two tufted titmice perch on my right hiking boot. One of them pecks at my sock. What do they think I am? A sunporch above the stream. I hum, they chirp . . . and they launch to the top of icicles, dripping off a sharp rock.

I head for Stroke Hill, up Stanka Lane. Hummingbird Man watches through his picture window and waves. The hill is a miles-long shadow iced by light. Earth and the woods are freckled brown and bronze. At midhill, bushes are budded, heralding a fifth season: winterpsring. Nature no longer has a slow gear.

I hear a commotion, high atop the hill, where last summer I saw a fairy ring bullseye in the meadow. The trees to the west are ringed with light. The moon hangs over the horizon, full and azure blue. I enter the halo and the forest sings: bluejays and robins, pale blues and reds, tens of them singing, cacophonous like a Charles Ives symphony, all aligned to the sun.

I pass Farmer Orville’s house, hoping for cookies and coffee, but I see a truck in the driveway—company—and on I walk. All driveways are creeks, all roads are rivers. I sink to my boottops in sweating mud, headed for home. The driveway is butterscotch. The squirrel with no tail is butt up in a snowpile, digging for treasure. The goldfinches hail the God of Seeds.

I am as soaked as if it were an August day. But August means fall, early winter. The January thaw is a finger pointing springward.

About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: eugenebaldwin.com. I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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