Ways of Seeing

07/02/2020
In early June, a group of friends and I organized a vigil on the Bristol green to honor the life of George Floyd and raise awareness about police brutality. The aim was to connect people with resources for antiracist self-education and action, and encourage involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement.  Though People of Color have been abused and murdered by white authority since Europeans arrived in the Americas, several killings of Black people by police in the past few months have caught mainstream attention, and the momentum of the BLM movement has continued to grow. We reached out to...
06/25/2020
I have been collecting weird coronavirus benefits. They provided much-needed laughs:  •  It’s much easier to rob banks because there are so many potential suspects wearing masks.  •  Bad breath doesn’t matter anymore.  •  Heard on WDEV Trading Post: “My neighbor who is always coming over and borrowing tools and not bringing them back doesn’t come over now.” •  My wife stopped telling me to get a haircut.  •  You can mute the sermon at church if it’s hitting a little too close for comfort. (Also co-workers who go on and on during videoconferences.)  •  I’m taking so few showers that my henna...
06/18/2020
I spent the month of January travelling with my family in Asia. We visited Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Just before our return we heard about a new virus in China. Coronavirus was just shutting down the city of Wuhan as we flew back from Cambodia through the Guangzhou airport in China. As COVID-19 started to spread, I thought we dodged a bullet leaving Asia when we did. Our concern was for my sister who was returning to Shanghai, China, where she lives with her husband. They were then flying to Taiwan to spend Chinese New Year with his family. Soon after they reached Taiwan, it...
06/11/2020
“Wow, it’s been a rough couple of weeks!” So many people have said that to me in recent days and each time I hear it, rage swells in my body. A rough couple of weeks? Try a rough couple of centuries. I am a historian of race in America. I am also a person of color. And, I am a person who has, more than once, been abused by the police. What I want to say to people who say “what a rough couple of weeks” to me is, “welcome to the [insert expletive here] reality of people of color. I am glad you finally noticed.”  And now that you all have noticed — don’t look away.  State-sanctioned violence...
06/04/2020
It’s Week Ten of The Quarantine and I am obsessed with bread. I apologize in advance to anyone who doesn’t tolerate gluten, you may not enjoy this column. Back when things were regular, when a trip to buy groceries didn’t feel life threatening, I wasn’t much of a bread baker. I mean, I could knock out a pretty decent challah on a Friday afternoon, but for the most part I was perfectly happy to buy bread that someone else baked. But I always admired people who could keep a sourdough starter alive, people who understood the basics of no-knead, hot-oven bread making. I had made a few attempts,...
05/28/2020
I was pregnant with my third child when I picked up a copy of Bill McKibben’s “Eaarth.” All my life I’ve been hugging trees, growing food, and collecting rocks. I became an educator so that I could teach children about the joys and wonders of the natural world in the hopes of nurturing in them a connection to place and to each other so that we might build a sustainable and just world together. So when Bill told me that the world I knew was irreparably broken and the climate of my Vermont childhood was a ghost, dread filled my body. I was too late. I put the book down unfinished and turned...
05/21/2020
On a warm spring morning during my sophomore year of high school, I gathered with my P.E. class to form teams for a softball game. Chatting as we stood in line along the backstop, we watched the boys’ class run laps on the nearby track. Suddenly there was a shifting, a movement, and the ground quite literally began to undulate in visible waves. The strongest earthquake to hit Seattle since just before my birth was rolling through. It was fortunate that our class was outside that morning, because in the gym, sections of the ceiling fell to the floor. We students were allowed to gather up our...
05/14/2020
It’s raining and I imagine the water washing away the fear. The squirrels running in my yard don’t care about rain or coronavirus. They flit up and down trees, twitching their tails, digging furiously into the ground, scratching themselves, then staring into space and scratching again.  The wind, our sometimes friend, blows as sonorously as before. Going out of doors, leaving the sanctity of my own familiar germs, this is an allowable reason to leave home. As is the desire for company even though physical distancing is essential. In the back of my mind, a worry mantra: stay healthy stay...
05/07/2020
2011: The summer when my mother goes into hospice, I decide not to go to Mongolia and to spend as much time as possible with her. My plan is to visit with Mom in Connecticut for three days every week, where she is in a nursing home with dementia. The first week I go, the weather is beautiful, so I take Mom out in her wheelchair and we sit feeling the breeze. She comments on the flowers and asks why the flag is at half mast, but can’t carry on a conversation any more, so we just sit. As a Quaker I am comfortable with silence since that is how we worship every week. When I get back to Vermont,...
04/30/2020
“So, what is it like for you?” more than one friend has asked. My response depends on the day, sometimes the hour. “Confusing,” seems like a semi-accurate reply, but it scarcely captures the sense of existential vertigo that everyone I know seems to be feeling. Within my own small world, it is safe to say that there has never been anything quite like the Spring Semester of 2020 at Middlebury College. For me, anyway, life feels like an unfathomable interweave of extreme contradictions.  Consider this moment, the moment I am presently in, which feels basically like bliss. The sun is shining...

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Addison County Independent

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Middlebury, VT 05753

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