Travels

Saturday, my daughter and I drive through Montpelier, Vermont’s capitol city. I’m in the passenger seat, as I always seem to be these days, while she negotiates intersects. Who has right-of-way? When can you turn right on red?

Eventually, she parks, and we walk around town.

At a take-out window, I order her a milkshake. Since she can’t walk down the street and drink a milkshake with a mask, we sit on the state house lawn, while she drinks the milkshake. I lie back beneath the immense maple tree and remember nursing her here, sixteen summers ago.

Eventually, she looks at me, and says, There’s so many people.

It’s true; people are walking back and forth to the farmers’ market. College students are playing frisbee. Families are everywhere. But it’s also Vermont and not particularly populous.

At just a few weeks shy of sixteen, my daughter straddles that terrain between girl and woman, beautiful and strong and curious.

Looking at her, I marvel that over a year of her life has been spent in such isolation, our world shuttered up.

On our walk back to our car, we stop beneath the crab apple blossoms and breathe in. Spring.

Yes
William Stafford
 
It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.
It could, you know. That’s why we wake
and look out––no guarantees
in this life.
But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

Ah, Winter

Every winter, I shovel a path from the woodshed to the back entry, and another from the kitchen door to the compost pile, a hand-cut maze around my house. The snow in northern Vermont falls so amply my daughters, when toddlers, were sometimes completely concealed in these paths. I could hear a little girl laughing, running with baby steps in snow boots, invisible to my eye.

Yesterday, the 11-year-old and her friend, still wearing pajamas, opened the door and oooohhhhed at the snow. They shoveled a steep slide off the kitchen roof, and then made another from the sugarhouse roof.

In the afternoon, sun emerged and light snow drifted down outside the public library windows. The library filled with just the right amount of people, the children busy with crafts, the adults companionable, drinking coffee and working. At five, I walked outside into what must be the best of Vermont winter: drifting bits of perfect snowflake shot through with sunlight, mixed with the blueness of twilight.

But writing itself is one of the great, free human activities. There is scope for individuality, and elation, and discovery, in writing. For the person who follows with trust and forgiveness what occurs to him, the world remains always ready and deep, an inexhaustible environment….

William Stafford, Writing the Australian Crawl

img_0165

Revision and Freedom

I write, but I’m also a knitter, and one of the beauties of knitting is that you can rip the whole darn thing out and begin again. It’s just yarn, as I tell myself. Re-knitting might be tedious, but it’s achievable. Or even, god forbid, toss the yarn out and begin again. Isn’t reworking and rewriting nestled at the heart of craft? Why would we ever think something like craft or art might be easy? How lucky writing is: revision is possible, even demanded, whereas, in life, revision is a little more tricky. And that might be one of my greatest understatements.

… writing itself is one of the great, free human activities. There is scope for individuality, and elation, and discovery, in writing. For the person who follows with trust and forgiveness what occurs to him, the world remains always ready and deep, an inexhaustible environment…

–– William Stafford, Writing the Australian Crawl

IMG_2343
Photo by Molly S.