Sunday, February 28, 2010

Gin and the Last Days of Winter

Vermont winters are gray and drag on, though temperatures in the mid-thirties are beginning to nod toward the spring thaw. Whenever I feel cold and sorry for myself—and I’m pretty good at both— I think about Edna St. Vincent Millay at her homestead, Steepletop, in Austerlitz, NY—no power until the 1950’s. According to her letters, she spent a lot of time in bed waiting out the winter. (No wonder girlfriend hit the gin so hard.)

When completing my residency at the Millay Colony for the Arts, I regularly visited Millay’s mythical trash pile in the woods. It’s known as the “gin pile,” and for good reason. It's well picked over by Millay-niacs, and still substantial. And if you root around, allegedly there's still a morphine bottle or two.

My first taste of gin was like a mouthful of pine trees; I stole a few sips from my dad’s bottle in high school. If spring comes soon, I won’t turn to gin. I won’t take the sun for granted, and I promise, Weather Gods, that I’ll run more, and plant the garden on time.

My father and the Dogtor share a birthday – March 20th – the vernal equinox. I’m counting the days. In spring, the cats will spend nights outside again; the dogs will continue to track awesome amounts of mud into the kitchen. Frasier will turn one. I will stop hibernating.


  1. Loving this blog already! The bright blue bottle I salvaged from that gin pile has a position of prominence in our living room...

  2. Merci beaucoup! The gin pile was kind of a religious experience, yes? And much less boring to go draped in orange mesh during the peak hunting week.