We had a spring snowstorm today and I estimate we ended up with at least 9 inches of heavy, wet snow before it turned to rain. I loved every minute of it.
Yesterday I collected daffodils, but I was most concerned about our forsythia. In full bloom, its yellow flowers and the weight of so much snow were too much. I went out with a broom and cleaned the snow off it and off two budding lilac trees. Heavy snow at this time of year can cause serious damage.
Still, I loved it. Aussie and Henry cavorted in it in between vegging out on the sofas. From early morning on, with snowflakes as big as acorns coming down, the goldfinches kept on feeding, happily diving in and out of the feeders, as if to tell the snow: You can come down all you want, but it’s still spring. Or, as the famous wabbit said: “Let’s face it, Doc. I’ve read the script and I already know how it turns out.”
I revel in the comfort of a warm home, draped under a thick gray shawl that Bernie brought me from Colombia years ago, now full of doghair. This comfort reminds me of those who lack comfort. I am still confounded by the inequities in life, not just limited to our species. I eat a slice of bread with avocado and remember the hungry. I enjoy warm clothes and can’t forget the young Lakota boy with holes in his sneakers as he took a friend and me around Wounded Knee in a glacial January twilight at Pine Ridge. I love my life, and can’t forget that I will die.
Something is true, and the opposite is true, too. If it means that a certain composure is beyond me, so be it.
I’m amazed at the resilience of things. Sitting on the steps with Jimena Pareja two weeks ago, waiting with food cards for immigrants to show up—mothers with children, a young man coming to pick up a food card because both his parents are still working on the farms—Jimena and I talk about the many young people, even children, trying to make it across the border from Mexico.
“They know it’s a window of time,” she says, “they know it will close.” A severe reaction, I fear, is just around the corner.
She tells me about Jose, let’s call him. When Jose was barely a toddler his mother got pregnant with a second child. She and her husband left Ecuador, made it all the way up to our neck of the woods, and have been living and working ever since, leaving Jose with his grandmother. But the grandmother is now sicker and older, so they decided to take a chance and bring Jose up here.
They found two older men who were planning to do this trip and sent Jose with them. They made it all the way up to Mexico—
“Did they fly?” I ask. Ecuador is way down in South America.
Jimena shakes her head. In Mexico they found a coyote to bring them across the border.
“How much is a coyote?” I ask her.
“Three thousand dollars per person,” she tells me. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a man, woman, or child, it’s $3,000. And all the coyote does is take them across the Rio Grande and then close to a Border Patrol, leaves them there and goes back home. Many people die like that.”
But Jose and his two older companions met up with the Border Patrol.
“When there’s a child,” she explains to me, “he has to have a name and phone number for his parents, the Border Patrol will call them, and the parents have 48 hours to respond. If they don’t respond, they send the child back. If they do, and let’s say they live here, they keep him/her till there’s a group of children from the Northeast and then a Border Patrol officer takes them into New York and they let the families know when and where to pick them up.”
Jose’s parents waited for the phone call, and finally one came. Jose informed his parents that he was tested for Covid and found positive. The other two men were negative and passed through, but the Border Patrol returned him to Ecuador.
“So now what?” I ask her.
She shrugs. “They will probably try again. They have to get all that money together, find another adult or two, and Jose will again leave Ecuador, get all the way up to Mexico, find a coyote, do all those things again and hope this time it will be different.”
“How do you do that?” I finally ask her, after we’re both quiet for a while. “How do you send a 9-year-old boy across such a distance a second time, with such risks?”
“I don’t know, Eve,” she says. “I won’t even let my boys go to the street corner alone, and they’re 12 and 14.” The older one is already planning to study mathematics at MIT, taking extra classes, volunteering all over town at various projects to meet that school’s requirements.
“You see, Eve,” she explains to me, “they have nothing there. If you’re not part of a certain class, you’ll never go to school, you won’t get into college, you can’t even get a job because to get a job you have to be connected to people, and if you’re not, you have no life. I don’t mean what they say here when kids say they don’t have a life in the virus because they can’t go out and see their friends, over there they really have no life. No job, no money, no education, no food, just nothing. That’s why they send little boys from as far away as Ecuador.”
In late afternoon I looked at the forsythia once again. More snow had fallen on top after I’d cleared it up, but now, with the snow melting, the branches lift up and the bright yellow flowers are still there. Not all, a few stay down, weakened and maybe even broken by the snow. But most rise up.
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