The summer I had my second baby was particularly hot, and I frequently nursed my baby beneath one of the enormous sugar maples on the Montpelier state house lawn. My six-year-old played on the capital steps, and ran up and down the granite walkway, admiring the blooming flowerbeds.

Yesterday, with my kid contingent, we stood somewhat elevated on the DMV steps. Readers, the people kept coming and coming. This place we know so well was filled to bursting and more – with an odd kind of quiet and extremely polite tension, which was then dissipated by a full-throated roar of collective energy.

My teenager, walking and driving all over town with her friend, relayed that the interstates were backed up and the exits closed. Vehicles were abandoned on the roadsides and mediums, and people walked in.

That’s the Vermont I’m proud of. Resilient and smartly dressed in winter footwear. The Vermont who shows up – traffic jams be damned – when needed. If there’s hope for democracy’s survival anywhere in this country, it’s here.

I stood beside two older women who had set up their folding chairs and were prepared to stay as long as needed. One woman held a lavender homemade sign, with a sunflower and a single word: RESPECT.

Here’s a few lines from the library book I was reading last night while the children slept.

For a long time I have hesitated to write a book on woman, is how de Beauvoir starts one of the most famous books on women ever written…. The wounded woman gets called a stereotype and sometimes she is. But sometimes she’s just true…. Pain turned trite is still pain. I think the charges of cliché and performance offer our closed hearts too many alibis, and I want our hearts to be open. I just wrote that. I want our hearts to be open. I mean it.

– Leslie James, The Empathy Exams


Montpelier, Vermont

This Day

Sensible advice from my dad arrived via email this morning.

Two days after I was born, Dr. King was assassinated, when my mother was still in the hospital. I imagine my father returning home in his blue Volkswagen beetle to his two-year-old and his babysitting mother-in-law, switching on the evening news and drinking bourbon in the brilliant Albuquerque light.

48 years later, a mother myself, I intend to walk with my two daughters next weekend in the Women’s March on Montpelier.

Why? my daughters ask. I begin by answering, Because we must.

My dad’s advice was to read Dr. King’s two greatest essays, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence.”

We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives, and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

– Martin Luther King, “A Beyond Vietnam – A Time to Break Silence”


Photo by Molly S./Woodbury, Vermont