I come to the woods for solitude,
for long ambling walks with field guides
in a battered knapsack, and for the serendipity
of wild creatures. I want writing time, and lament
that here, the sparse humanity is so social.
Acquaintances, up to thirty miles away, fill
the shrinking calendar with dinners and visits for tea,
and load me with garden bounty; red cabbages,
colored heritage potatoes, beets,
and peppers saying, I’m so sick of canning,
couldn’t you take a box of ripe tomatoes?
I meet a neighbor on a logging road
in the middle of wilderness where I hoped
to meet a moose, Laura, you must
stop by. The Brussels sprouts are sweet
from last night’s hard frost. My friend, Sheila,
hands me two perfect Italian prunes, We must
use these before bears strip the trees. Can’t you
take a few bags? Now I am elbows deep
in boxes of canning jars and lids, hair curling
in steam clouds rising from an enamel kettle,
and a twenty-five pound bag of sugar on the sticky floor.
Outside the cabin door, a fox runs through deep pasture grass,
and bear cross the driveway to check
the gooseberry patch. I catch gold aspens
sizzling with wind and sigh, Yes, to damsen plums,
shaggy mane mushrooms, armloads
of dahlias, and to friends, who ooh and ahhh
at rows of sealed jars glowing like jewels.