Stuck in traffic yesterday, overdressed in the afternoon’s high temps as I’d left the house in the dewy cool of morning, I was lost, looking for a meet-up place with my kids. Surrounded by big box stores jam-packed with plastic stuff, that territory is one of my least favorite of Vermont roadsides.
Years ago, I delivered a 5-gallon bucket of our maple syrup every month to a bakery in that area, and afterwards, I let my daughter, who was two, run in the weedy field behind a strip mall, flanked at the far end by condominiums. By chance, I passed that still-undeveloped field and pulled over.
All day, a white tree fluff had floated around my office windows, a drifting June version of snow. At that field, the white gossamer yet drifted through the air, random bits, here and there. Not that many years ago, this expanse was farm field, with the mountains rising like a blue dream to the east and the Winooski River flowing nearby.
The day was quite hot, and I thought of my own garden’s tomatoes and melons, thirsty on their vine, and I knew I wouldn’t return to water barefoot until twilight.
I had turned back towards the asphalt and the intersections of noisy traffic, when I saw a small footprint in the cracked earth. Crouching, I rubbed my fingers through its chalky dust, wondering what child had run through this field when it was muddy. How I wished that child had found some hidden treasures, secrets just for her.
It is quite possible that an animal has spoken to me and that I didn’t catch the remark because I wasn’t paying attention.
E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web