Young Woman Traveling

Rising in the middle of the night is synonymous for me with journeying: catch a plane to visit a family member in need or set off on a long road trip, like our exquisitely beautiful drive out of Prince Edward Island last summer as the dawn gradually rose, and my 12-year-old and I listened to Canadian radio while the two others slept curled on each other in the backseat.

Once upon a time that miles-long bridge would have terrified me: last summer it hardly seemed long enough, suspended over all that ocean.

Now my older daughter, starting her womanhood journey, rises in the dark and returns long after dark, fascinated by her classes and job, brimming with an enthusiasm she lacked all through adolescence. When she leaves, I open my laptop for my day’s work, but I wonder, Where will her life lead?

Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.

— Gloria Steinem

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Onamonapia

This afternoon, my 11-year-old daughter walked around the house saying 0namonapia,  over and over, desperately trying to drive her sister nuts, by repeating this beautiful word, richly rolling off her tongue.

Years ago I used to nurse this child at the farmers market where my then-husband and I sold maple syrup. One afternoon, I nursed my baby on the grass behind our tent, leaning up against a pole. A couple sat down somewhat near me, in the shade beneath a poplar tree. Eating, they casually spoke in a slavic language I didn’t recognize. I generally knew they were talking about the day, but I couldn’t really piece together much more than that.

My baby fell sleep, and I pulled a blanket over her soft little limbs, then leaned my head back against the pole and closed my eyes. While the couple kept eating and talking, I listened to their words, this beautiful language I couldn’t precisely understand, but I knew the language tied them together.

Surely, 0namonapia relays much more than cluck or moo. This is a word whose meaning can stretch to entire languages: an audible beauty that makes us human.

 

The Bells

Hear the sledges with the bells—
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!

– Edgar Allen Poe

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sweater weather in June Vermont