The Way Forward

Skiing along the former railroad bed in the late afternoon, I meet a fellow skier — a man wearing a gray knit hat who’s retired now from the local high school. In one connection or another, I’ve known him since before I became a mother.

We pause and talk for bit. He asks about my daughters, and then he opens our conversation to what’s happening in the nation’s capital. Behind him, I see the Lamoille River winding towards Lake Champlain, flowing its slow way to cross the Canadian border and head to the Atlantic Ocean.

As a complete non-sequitur, I say, The sun actually came out today.

We look at the blue sky overhead between the trees. It’s January in Vermont, and the sun’s presence is never a given here.

We talk for a few more minutes, acknowledging chaos and the pandemic, these odd days and that sun overhead — light without warmth.

Then we part ways, he to his ski, and I towards home.

But time is only another liar, so go along the wall a little further: if blackberries prove bitter there’ll be mushrooms, fairy-ring mushrooms in the grass, sweetest of all fungi.

— William Carlos Williams


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