Light a Candle. Keep It Alive.

Mt. Mansfield, Vermont

My daughters’ preschools had a sweet November festival called the Lantern Walk. The little kids each made their own lantern, from a mason jar or metal or wax, and strung it through with a wire. On a dark November evening, always right about now, the families arrived, and everyone took a walk through the woods with these candlelit lanterns, singing. The metaphor was, and is, immensely appealing.

In all my daughters’ lantern walks, the route often changed. One year, the teacher led the families down a steep hill. Rural Vermont is dark, dark, dark, on these November nights. The parents whispered to each other, fence here, and watch the big root.

These November days and nights, the wood stove is again glowing in our house and the wind blows over our hillside. Like Shakespeare’s play within a play, I remember those walks as Lantern Walk within a Long Lantern Walk.

On another note, State 14 ran an excerpt of Unstitched. It’s always such a pleasure to appear in this Vermont publication.

An Actual Excursion

On a whim, I bought three tickets to an outdoor light festival. Each ticket was cheaper than the price of a movie ticket, back when we once went to the movies.

It was below zero when we arrived, and the three of us stood very near a crackling fire watching the winter twilight sink through deepening shades of blue into dark. We were outside a theater where I attended a fantastic poetry reading just before our world shut up last March.

Eventually, my daughters and I, warmed enough by the fire and hot chocolate, wandered through the enchantingly lit grounds. Overhead, the stars shone. At the far end, two little kids played in the snow that was lit cobalt — laughing with great pleasure, The snow is blue!

Just before we left, my daughters started the car and the heat, and I ran back to the window for sweets to bring home. I guessed who was bundled under layers of bulky coats and scarves and balaclavas.

A stranger who was stamping his feet and waiting for drinks asked if I was from here. Our house with our cats was eight miles down the road, but he had driven well over an hour to come. We have to do something, he said, then we wished each other a lovely night, and then disappeared into the night.