I pause my afternoon run when a couple waves me down in a little memorial park in Hardwick. I’m guessing they’re looking for directions, maybe a suggestion where to eat an early dinner or the road to another town. Instead, they’re curious as heck about Hardwick.
What drove the economy in the 1800s and 1900s? When was the beautiful granite town office building constructed? Do I know the population?
Weirdly, I know the answers to all these questions, and ask a few of my own. Where are they from? Where are they headed?
They’re from the northern shore of Lake Champlain — St. Albans — a town where I once bought a sizable (and expensive, oh, was it expensive) piece of maple sugaring equipment.
We stand beneath a gold-leafed maple, talking about this and that, and I share my speculations about what living in Hardwick might have been like in the early 1900s. It’s all speculation, as my daughters would readily point out.
At the end, just before we part, they ask if I know someone who lives in town. He’s a high school teacher, and I met his family over twenty years ago. In fact, I live beside his mother-in-law.
We laugh. How little separates us. Then they get in their car, and I head off on my run.
We’re at the point in Vermont’s fall where our world makes me ask, What’s happening? but in the loveliest, most wonderful way. The fall colors are stunningly gorgeous — so much vibrant red, so many shades of gold — the trees silently going about their business. Our hillsides are amazing, but so is each tree an individual marvel.
We’d had rainy day upon rainy day, but the weather looks to be clearing, at least for a short stretch. In New England, heading into later fall, sunlight can be sparse. These handful of days are the time to soak up color and light.
When I stopped on Hardwick’s Main Street to snap this photo yesterday, a man walking by said, “Winter’s not far.”
True, but at the moment, autumn in all her radiance.
I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
In a terrible mood on Friday afternoon, I’m driving too fast through town when I round a corner and see a rainbow spread over Hardwick.
The arc shines so brilliantly and near I imagine I can reach out and touch its particularly vibrant green. I pull into the Village Market, and a woman I know gets out of her car, wearing a mask, too. For a moment we stand there, marveling, then walk towards the market door.
Another woman — vaguely familiar to me, in the way of small town Vermont — is loading her car with groceries. My companion and I urge her to go see the rainbow; it’s just a few steps around the building.
She shakes her head, saying she can’t see it.
But we insist and walk those few steps with her. The rainbow by then has morphed into a double arc. Then, as we watch, the rainbow fades.
Over her mask, the woman looks at us and says, “Well, that’s a nice thing after all today. Something good.”
October 5. So much more winter to come. Watch for rainbows.