After a terrible week, my daughter heads to ski with a friend. Because of the pandemic, she doesn’t catch a ride with the friend. Because my daughter is 15, I’m the designated adult — for what that’s worth — in the passenger seat while she drives.
Sunday morning in rural Vermont, the roads are nearly empty. North of St. Johnsbury, we pick up the interstate for a small stretch, then turn off and head along the Passumpsic River.
I lean toward the windshield and point out a bald eagle flying over the fields and then a second eagle.
Excited about those eagles? she asks me. From the corners of her eyes, she glances at me. She rounds bend and the eagles disappear from sight.
While she skis, I take a long walk into the snowy woods, and then work in our car. There’s nothing new here: I’ve been wandering through the woods and working in my car, waiting for my kids for years now.
And yet — while everything is the same, nothing is the same.
On our way home, she drives again, and stops at a church so I can get out and take a picture of the steeple and the blue sky.
Below is a page from Lauren Redniss’s Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout.
So long, 2020.
2020 might not have been the brightest year on record, but then, say, 1944 might not have been all that rosy, either.
2020 became the year when our house finally became a home. Three years ago, I sold our former house and moved with my daughters. We moved, I realized only later, only out of desperation, to leave a bad scenario for what I hope would be a better life.
2020 showed me that this story — while uniquely ours — is also the human story, of movement and longing, of fear and hope. We’ve now claimed ownership of this house — us three females and our two house cats — through countless meals and nights and early mornings, through arguing about things petty and not-so-petty. We claimed ownership all those spring days when I leaned against the kitchen counter, listening to the governor and wondering what the heck was happening; through my daughter setting up high school in front of the wood stove, through the slow dawning when I realized my employment was no longer viable, and I would need to adapt.
I did. We did.
During this hard year, the ancient moon rose and set over our metal roof, over our neighbor boys’ sandbox, the road sloping down our hill and out into the world, our village, our sweet state of Vermont, the veritable globe.
I’m reading Lauren Redniss’ Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American Midwest — a book both terrible and beautiful. Redniss writes:
If you go back to the beginning,
everything was dark.
You start from nothing.
Things start to come to light.