St. Valentine’s Day Ski

I’ve been skiing on Thomas Penn’s garden. It’s a ballpark now, but once it was filled with sparkling ponds full of goldfish and painted fences and a wild wood where imported deer nibbled flowering bushes. So long ago in the eighteenth century. He had a greenhouse where a giant aloe plant grew tended by his gardener, Virgil. People would come out from town to take a look and then stroll in the grounds. I circle the park at least five times, the icy rain coming down softly on my shoulders. I try to go as fast as I can. There’s hardly anyone out. A man and woman sheltering under an umbrella. Kids sliding down the tiny slope on the edge of the field.

My husband breaks trail, and then we have a slick path all around the edges, along the parade of trees with wet buds under their hard scales, past the bullpen and the bleachers, down along the parkway where three yellow trucks plow, and salt, and move the snow.

It’s almost St.Valentine’s Day and Scott says, I know you’re thinking about old boyfriends.

No I’m not, I say. I’m thinking about snow. He’s dreaming of the Haute Route starting in Verbier, where we spent our honeymoon years ago. We’d need new skis, he says.

A man who usually sleeps in the park walks around the edges on the shoveled sidewalk. Around and around and around. Trying to keep warm in the chilly rain. It’s been a cold winter and I’ve been wondering about my trees in pots, though snow insulates. The daffodils along the side of the house are poised to break open. Just as soon as the weather warms a bit. Thomas Penn’s stream still runs under the ballpark. A bubbling sparkling thing during his life. Wild flowers grew along the edges. A marshy spot on his land where willows grew. So many things run under my skis as I come around again, the bricks of houses pulled down to make the parkway, the dirt from Penn’s gardens, the brittle glass from the greenhouse.


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