On a late afternoon, I walked out of the Montpelier Library and down the street. The trees along the street were shedding their pale yellow leaves in a balmy, golden light; the sidewalks were busy with children, the afternoon commute already inching its way home.
I walk this way frequently, and always, at one particular place, in front of the stately Montpelier Inn, I remember one evening I stood there, many years ago, with my baby daughter on my back. It was late October then, although I don’t remember any cold. Instead, I remember swaying from foot to foot, already habituated to holding a baby – in my arms or on my back – and watching the twilight creep in, the day’s pale light slowly passing to dusk.
I remember that afternoon-slash-evening as one of the longest pauses in my adult life, waiting for someone who never appeared. Later, I realized my message had gotten lost along the way.
It’s odd, how even in the sunniest and lightest moments of our lives, there’s the past we keep walking through – and I do keep walking, every time, heading back into the busyness of my life – this afternoon, at least, graced with that lovely autumn light.
The trees go on burning
Without ravage of loss or disorder.
From Donald Hall’s “Letter In Autumn”