In Hardwick, Vermont, today, a woman approached me and said, I know you. As she spoke, I realized she had worked, over ten years ago, at State Street Market in Montpelier. Although that market had long since closed, and I had only rarely gone there, she remembered me with a small child. She said, Your little girl was so darling.
I listened while this woman unwound her life for me, spinning from a broken, unhappy marriage to touring as a circus cook, then living in a Buddhist retreat. Her face gradually rubbed into familiarity as I remembered those days from so long ago, my daughter’s warm hand in mine, walking among the high shelves of that market, in a place I remembered as sunny. I had repeatedly purchased a few particular things: yeast for root beer I brewed in gallon jugs and sold at a farmers market, umeboshi vinegar, a carob-covered rice cake for my daughter. The hippiest, strangest collection. How she would laugh at this now.
While this woman leisurely told me her story, I missed my little girl, my ruby-lipped merry child, the world that seemed often merely the two of us. Listening as the woman told me of her cancer and surgery, her own healing, I thought of how my eyes often catch on my daughter these days, this tall and lovely young woman still suffused, chock-full, with that vibrant, radiant energy, yet blossoming into a flower with myriad, distinctive layers of petals. Within, though, that small child is folded within her being, as that younger woman with the packets of yeast in her hand is meshed through my own womanhood.
Unlocking the bookstore door this morning, above Hardwick’s Main Street in the clear blue sky, nine turkey vultures circled, near enough I saw their tail feathers flickering in the breeze’s constant motion.
On Columbus’ first encounter with the new world…
…he said that it was such a joy to see the plants and trees and to hear the birds singing that he could not leave them and return. He says that this island is the most beautiful that eyes have ever seen.