Unexpected Gold

A naturalist did a program at my small library last night, appearing with a red-tailed hawk, a rabbit, a wood turtle, a frog, a snake, and a curved-beak raven. As the room was packed, I stood by the door, watching when he offered to let my daughters touch that gorgeous snake. Wincing – but polite – both declined.

The library is one of those essential places in our society, where everyone is welcome to drink a cup of hot tea in an evening after it has rained – hard, all day – browse the books, listen. Simply come out of our rural Vermont homes and realize the rest of the town is sodden with spring rain, too.

Closing up, I stepped outside, and the clouds had cleared. The sky was pink at the horizon, and an enormous rainbow bent over the library, the small building constructed with volunteer labor, years before I arrived at the scene. My daughter remarked about a pot of gold somewhere, maybe down by the school’s garden. The air was swept clean, already warming, promising sunnier skies. Robins sang.

My daughters walked across the field, oohing and ahhing, my older daughter with her camera, while along the path an older man moved step by step, making his steady way under those clearing skies, going from here to there.

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.

– James Baldwin

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