I came home from the desert this week. I spent twelve hours traveling from Phoenix to Montpelier and all I can really focus on is all the dirt. I spent my last day in Arizona hiking the White Tank Mountains and circling Papago park, and sure it was windy and dusty- but it was also sunny and warm and the wind felt light, like it belonged. I stepped out of the Burlington airport today and I smelled the sweet slippery smell of spring and it made me smile, and there was a breeze but it was heavy. It wasn’t wind, it wasn’t blowing hard, but it was heavy- weighed down on the bones like shadows weigh in on our thoughts as we try to sleep. Heavy.
Later I walked though downtown Montpelier, after I had tried to catch up on the sleep I lost while curling in and out of consciousness and rage on the planes and in the airports, my mind foggy, my limbs heavy, and I realized the air tasted like stale salt, and there was a heavy haze over the street, like smog all bundled by the pavement. I could taste it.
When the snow melts, the sand and salt that we’ve used all winter to clear and maintain the roads builds up- and when the ground isn’t wet anymore, the salt and sand dry up and fly up and hang heavy in the air. I walked around Montpelier and all I could think was that I felt this heavy grit in my hair, on my face, on my teeth. And even the desert sand that flung around me while I was hiking didn’t leave such a grimy film all over me, it just dusted me a bit and left handprints on my jeans and sunburns on my shoulders but it didn’t weigh on me.
We need a good, heavy rain here to wash this heavy grime away, to see it slip into the gutters and drains, for the streets to feel like they have something other than this smog weighing them down. Admittedly, this has been a hard winter. It’s been long and cold and bitter, but it’s part of life here and I could complain but I won’t, because it’s useless.