Feather Pens

Last night, in a wild windstorm, we were lucky to have the lights go out. My teenager and I had – painstakingly – filled out her college financial aid papers, and, at the very end, I could not electronically sign and submit. The younger daughter lay on the rug asking what’s wrong?

Frustrated, I snapped that, in a real world, I could just take a pen and sign my name. But not in a virtual world where the synchronicity of username and password didn’t jive.

With relief, darkness unexpectedly enfolded us. I closed my laptop, and we lay on the rug before the woodstove’s glowing glass door, the firelight flickering over us. The wind whooshed around our wooden house. Lacking light, we played my old stand-by, 20 Questions, traveling in our imagination to Portland, Maine, and then remembering sweet potato tempura we had eaten in a Japanese restaurant in that city. We discovered an interestingly ontological conundrum: was my brother’s dog Mona a thing? A live thing? She’s not a person, not a place….

By candlelight, we brushed our teeth and, rather than read by flashlight, I went to sleep far earlier than usual.

This morning, I’m reunited with my laptop, in work I genuinely love; however, while I do live in the world where papers are signed with clicks of my keyboard, I also reminded my girls that their ancestor signed his John Alden on the Mayflower Compact with a scratchy quill. And the implications of that document have long lingered…..

IN The Name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honor of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation…

– Mayflower Compact 1620


Hardwick, Vermont

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