Magic Trick

Like a great joke, a few more inches of snow arrived on April Fool’s Day. By afternoon, however, the day evolved to a breezy sunniness, brisk but radiant. I walked with writer Natalie Kinsey-Warnock to her car in the Woodbury School’s dirt parking lot. It’s Woodbury — the village built in a swamp — and, for that moment, there’s nowhere I’d rather be. In the treetops, blackbirds sang crazily. Why not? It’s Vermont spring.

Natalie shared stories with the school kids today, and at one point, I couldn’t figure out what she was headed — how did a 1865 steamboat catastrophe in the Mississippi River figure into rural Vermont?

Then, abruptly, like whisking an indigo rabbit from a top hat, the story shimmered. It’s as though Natalie unfurled one of her grandmother’s handstitched quilts, and the connections between the history’s enormity and this woman, and these children and their own place in history, lie visible as much as can anything can be seen in history’s rough beauty, the concealed pieces teasingly beckoning.

I’m the librarian, the hostess of this event, the timekeeper to move this along, make sure the kids have time to grab their coats and catch the school bus, but for these moments I’m merely me, surrounded by these rapt children, loving this particular story.

Oh, the long days of circling to sow and reap,
but, O, those few days on the river each year.

— Leland Kinsey, from “Northern Traverse”

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