Solitude and Writing

When I first became a mother in rural Vermont, I discovered the odd solitude-that-was-not-solitude that arises from nearly always being with a young child. Now my daughters are older, and I’m fortunate to have writing work, so deep solitude again makes a consistent mark in my days. Hence, reading at events like Bookstock are a particular pleasure, with time to chat about books and lives. I have no idea what, say, hedge fund managers shoot the breeze about, but my experience with Vermont writers is generally unmitigated humor, rich inner lives with often rocky terrain, and a rush of talking, talking, like we’re all odd aunties let out of the attic for an afternoon.

Later, past dark, home again, my daughters and their cousins decided to set off a Chinese lantern the girls had been saving. In the neighbors’ field, beneath the beaming constellations, my teenager and I held the tissue-thin lantern between us as it filled with heat and smoke from a small fire. When we released it, the red lantern and its flame rushed up into the night, carried away by a breeze and its own heat.

In the darkness, my 11-year-old slid her hand into mine, afraid of the night and yet entranced, looking up at the heavens.

Hazy moonlight —
someone is standing
among the pear trees.

– Yosa Buson


Woodstock, Vermont

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