Ways of Seeing

12/05/2019
I checked out a book from Ilsley Library a few weeks ago that had a back cover proclaiming it a charming satire in the style of a particular author. I know that writer; his books are gentle, non-violent, and respectful of women. In this book I found torture, multiple murders, and graphic sexual violence against a woman. When the torture was hinted at, I skipped pages only to find myself reading about rape. I skipped ahead farther and it was still going on. I will spare you the details of it, which are appalling. Though I was skipping, I still caught phrases describing it. This book was not...
11/21/2019
Halloween this year was wet but warm, so despite the ever-changing drizzle, downpour, and showers, trick-or-treaters were out in force. I live in Bristol village right on the circuit that everyone coming into town trick-or-treats at, so we always get at least six hundred people. We always run out of candy before we run out of trick-or-treaters, which leaves us retreating into the house extinguishing lights as we go. Halloween candy is quite an investment, so we have to hand it out frugally. None of this frivolous “grab a handful!” or ‘unattended-candy-bowl-on-the-porch’ at our house....
11/14/2019
There is a lot going on in the world right now, but I confess that I have been frequently and somewhat blissfully unaware of most of it. At the moment, I am suffering from some health issues that prevent me from spending too much time on the computer and even from reading — it hurts my head if I do it for too long. That means I can’t really read the news. Although I would not wish this pain on anyone, I have to say that hearing and reading about the constant national and global catastrophes that have been hammering down since November of 2016 are something that I have not missed. I have been...
11/07/2019
When late October arrives, lots of people are planning this year’s Halloween costumes, buying candy for trick-or-treaters, or otherwise filling their days with happy anticipation of a sugar-filled holiday. Not me. I am thinking about the time. Every year when Daylight Savings Time ends, I have to think hard about whether time will fall backward or forward. I remember once many years ago, I changed all my clocks one hour ahead, and it was hours before I realized my error. These days, electronic devices adjust themselves, so I just wait for them to tell me what time it is. All that really...
10/31/2019
I remember a conversation that I had with my father when I was about ten. I asked, “Why doesn’t anyone remember what it was like to be a baby inside the womb? It’s not like it was that long ago, and we were all in there once…” His reply was something I have thought about ever since because, in the beginning — with my ten-year-old brain — I wasn’t sure it made sense. He said, “Well, in order to have memories, you need words. And babies in the womb do not yet have any language because they have not learned any words yet.” I remember wondering: “Do I really need words to describe what I think...
10/24/2019
The first time I was in Mongolia twenty-five years ago, my friend Kathleen and I were riding on a red and white bus with standing room only. We were returning from a day at the black market where I had bought necessities like a light bulb and toilet seat. The dilapidated bus lurched and when I looked up, a Mongolian woman was shaking hands with Kathleen. I thought someone was introducing herself, so I reached over to shake hands, too. The Mongolian looked at me a bit strangely. Later I learned the custom is to shake hands if you step on someone’s foot or touch their leg with your foot. That...
10/17/2019
In September of 2018, a 30-year-old, off-duty police officer in Dallas, Texas, named Amber Guyger mistakenly entered her neighbor’s apartment, instead of her own. Guyger’s apartment was on the third floor, but she entered the apartment of her neighbor, Botham Jean, who lived one floor above. Botham Jean was relaxing on his couch, watching TV, and eating vanilla ice cream. Amber Guyger may have been distracted because she was upset, as she had been talking to her lover (another police officer, married to someone else), and trying to arrange a meeting that evening. She didn’t notice the bright...
10/10/2019
We first noticed the house while driving back and forth from work in Middlebury to our rented apartment in Sudbury. Red brick, out in the country, with lots of windows facing Route 30. For sale by owner. “What a nice house,” I would say to my husband Bill. “What a nice house for a big family.” And then we took in two teenage foster sons, and suddenly we were a big family. So I stopped one day and knocked on the door. Ten minutes later I was totally in love, and in a few weeks we owned an old brick house in Cornwall, which would be our home for 45 years. When Bill and I decided to move to...
10/03/2019
This late summer there have been so many nights when the sky was filled with stars. They are always there, of course, but not always so visible. We sat outside this August, looking up with hopes of seeing shooting stars but really just reveling in the firmament. Some out-of-town guests marveled to see the Milky Way for the first time after years of city life, excited to spot constellations. I was in awe of the people who centuries ago, without even the aid of telescopes, studied the heavens and figured out so much about their patterns of change over the course of a year and how to navigate...
09/26/2019
My husband and I leave Arches National Park in Utah on a bright morning, driving along the Colorado River then over the Rockies toward Denver, where we’ll visit his son and our eight-year-old grandson. The scorched river valley and vast mountains we traverse captivate our imagination. This place is the setting of countless Westerns. It’s well past lunchtime when we pull off I-70 into a parched rest area. Three small picnic shelters are scattered across a scrubby field — each one shades a couple of tables and a handful of travelers. The only open table parallels another one where a leggy man...

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Addison County Independent

58 Maple Street
Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: 802.388.4944
Fax: 802.388.3100