I first fell in love not with Vermont’s pastoral landscape but its nightsky. I grew up in a New Hampshire village, so the New England terrain was intimately familiar to me, but the constellations were dimmed by the town’s lights and curtailed by roofs and wires. When I was eighteen, I moved to rural Vermont, and the first night there, I lay in bed, staring out the uncurtained window at all those stars. Uncountable. I was beyond smitten.
In America, a country of such material excess, the whole force of the culture often seems to push for more, more, more. Of course, I understand as much as anyone the mathematics of economics, of raising children and hard work and a driving need for stability; none of that necessarily excludes our human need for the stars. Shouldn’t we encourage our teenagers to envision their adult lives as productive within the real context of earth beneath the soles of your feet, stars arced over your head?
Early August in northern Vermont: the children are tanned and healthy, the asparagus has shot taller than any 11-year-old, our pockets sag with lake pebbles, and the cucumbers are crisp and profuse on the vine. That’s something.
On the white poppy,
a butterfly’s torn wing
is a keepsake
– Matsuo Basho