Interlude of Laughing

Camping on the shore of Lake Champlain this weekend with three enthusiastic 13-year-old girls, we did summer staying-on-an-island things — we biked and we swam for hours (and I mean hours). We walked on the breakwater at sunset. The loons woke us with their crazy calling at night. I read; the girls explored.

And we talked and talked and talked. The girls, giggling, spied on a father camping nearby. He told his two tiny boys, who wore only orange crocs, that Whining and dessert are counter to each other.

Someday, I told the girls, they might hear themselves saying something equally inane as a parent.

The island’s grass, always so lush and cool, had withered brown with lack of rain. The last morning there, rain began just after dawn. I lay in the tent, listening to the welcome patter, and then, just as I believed rain might be settling in for a day, it abruptly ceased, as if shut off.

In the unrelieved humidity, we packed slowly.

A glossy bit of summer in the land of childhood.

Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.

— Flannery O’Connor

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Burton Island, Vermont

 

Rough-Hewn Grace

Lately, I’ve been scavenging donations to my library’s yearly book sale, digging through stuff I’d never read (but others may deeply love) for some real gems. In one not-so-hot memoir I skimmed, I found a reference to a Flannery O’Connor line from one of her letters. The line — such a good one — also depicts this Vermont March.

All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.

I skied over the pine-needle-strewn ice, took off my skis and crossed an oozy mud road. Then the snow gave out. Here’s a photo of an empty house along the road, once a farm beside Big Hosmer Pond, now padlocked up, with a For Sale sign in the front yard, waiting for new inhabitation.

In its online listing, a black-and-white photo from the 1950s shows a woman in a dress standing beside what might have been a fancy new car. Who? Where have you gone? Did you love living in this house? And did the loons sing then, too?

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Craftsbury, Vermont