White Stuff


Driving back from Burlington, the interstate is snow-and-slush-covered, and the green Montpelier exit sign is nearly concealed. The conditions are nearly white-out, and I know where I am mostly by the long bridge over the Winooski River. I know the train station at Montpelier Junction is below, and that my family has walked on the railroad trestle over a summer-slow river.

In Montpelier, passersby walk with their faces turned down from the wind and blowing snow.

Then it’s all backroads home for me, driving on unplowed roads over ice-rutted dirt. Where fields loom up, the edges of the road disappear, and I’m driving more by memory than anything else. It’s March, and my snow tires have been hard-used for three or four years now, and I’m fed up with hearing about people’s trips to places with palm trees or, heck, even open water. March is the eternal Vermont month.

In Woodbury, the village that doesn’t even have a store now, I pull into the library to work a little longer before I head back to my daughters. As I walk by the elementary school, I see the children have built an enormous snowman, so tall I imagine adults must have helped with this.

After all that driving, bent over the steering wheel, just me and VPR and that eternal list running through my head — and who will take care of my daughters if I spin off the road and disappear? — the snow falls silently. The flakes twirl slowly, sheltered here from the wind, graceful as the season’s first snowfall. It’s so lovely I can imagine making a day of it, if I would just keep walking.

Nirvana is not something that we should search for, because we are nirvana, just as the wave is already water. The wave does not have to search for water, because water is the very substance of the wave. Living deeply makes it possible to touch nirvana, our ultimate reality….

— Thich Nhat Hanh


Woodbury, Vermont

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