Reflections on the 4th of July and Other Things

On the Fourth of July we went for a ride along dirt roads beyond the woods in our backyard. I guess you could say we were visiting the neighbors. The houses were far and few between. The small towns were quiet. We saw an occasional outdoor BBQ with no more than six or eight people out on the front lawn. Some of them wore masks at their family lawn parties.

Dirt Road

Newfane, Vermont

After our holiday cruise Rich cooked the lobsters and steak while I made a salad and posted a photo of our drive on Instagram with this caption:

Picture this: Vermont dirt roads, a covered bridge, Bernie lawn signs, old cars in the yard, lettuce and homegrown ganja in the vegetable gardens, tiny houses and RV guests in the backyards. Very few flags flying. Music on the radio, call in your favorite protest song.
Miles from Trump.

Covered Bridge

Covered Bridge ~ Vermont

One of the songs we listened to was something we’d never heard before. Joan Baez and Jeffrey Shurtleff covering a Byrds’ song at Woodstock. It was written by Gram Parsons and Roger McGuinn and titled A Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man.

He’s a drug store truck drivin’man. He’s the head of the Ku Klux Klan. When summer rolls around you’ll be lucky if he’s not in town.

We heard about Trump’s speech at Mount Rushmore.  We’ve seen bits and pieces of it along with the following day’s speech in D.C.  I no longer try to change hearts and minds. I’ve learned it’s a losing battle. Anyone who still stands with Trump is beyond redemption. There is no denying their racism and willful ignorance.

Coronavirus has come roaring back with a vengeance in the land of the free and the reckless. I often walk Lake Raponda Road but the lakes were closed this holiday weekend. The out-of -staters whizzing down Higley Hill with kayaks on the roof of their  SUVs must have been disappointed.

Lake Raponda

Lake Raponda Wilmington, Vt

Two weekends ago we discovered Grout Lake.

still water

Ripple in Still Water – Grout Lake, Stratton, VT

We met only one other man who was about our age. He had driven up from Massachusetts to camp for the night. He’d grown up in a town just north of the lake. He told us all the campsites had reserved signs.

“I don’t think this place is full tonight,” Rich said.

“I know but I don’t want to break the rules. I’m thinking the signs might be left from last summer but what if someone showed up at midnight and found me in their spot? I think I’ll head up to my old house. I know the owner and he’ll probably let me set up my tent for the night.”

Again, we’re in Vermont.

I am reading a lot of books. The gym where I work is still closed. I’m sixty three years old and enjoying this time of reading and writing. When I got home from Roanoke I was planning to go through all the old photos and organize things. That hasn’t happened yet. Instead I’ve been writing up a storm.

I read

Back at the beginning of the pandemic when we were in Roanoke, Virginia we took a hike to a waterfall. On the trail back down the mountain we came across what looked like a collapsed cabin or shed and the remnants of a clothesline.

fallen cabin Bent Mountain

Bent Mountain Trail ~ Shawsville, Virginia

Further along the trail we noticed a cemetery.

Cemetery #2

Cemetery – Bent Mountain Trail, Blue Ridge Mountains

“It’s the family plot,” Rich said. “It must be the people who once lived in that fallen down cabin.”

Cemetery #3

Bent Mountain, Virginia

The fake flowers weren’t faded but appeared to have been here for a long time. It was impossible to know how old this cemetery was. There were no names or dates on the headstones.

gravestone EH

RIP E.H. ~ Bent Mountain, Vermont

Except for E.H. Who was She or He? Did He live a long life farming here on Bent Mountain? Or maybe She died in childbirth? These people lived and died leaving no records behind. What did it mean in the grand scheme of the universe? Do their ancestors have any photos or stories or mementoes? Did She paint pictures or do needlework that someone still cherishes? Did he make wood carvings or keep a journal?

The family plot with no names haunted me for quite some time as I tried to write in the condo in Roanoke where we lived and worked for three months during the early days of the pandemic.

Back home in Vermont a luna moth hung by my front window for a few days.

Lunar moth

I found this in a Google search of luna moths:

For the very reason that they live for only 10 days as a winged adult after almost a year of growth as an egg, larvae and pupa, the life of a Luna moth symbolizes transformation, transience, the brevity of life, new beginnings, and a lot more. Some even consider them the most mystical of animal totems they will ever encounter.

Was the luna moth sending me a message?

Back home in Vermont I have taken several walks around the empty Mount Snow ski resort.

chairlift Mount Snow

Mount Snow chairlifts – Dover, Vermont

There have been only three deaths due to coronavirus in Windham County which is where I live. Two of the deaths were the Boyd twins, Levon and Clevon. I didn’t know them but I drive by their farm several times a week. Rich has met their brother Bucky. Their obituary was in the New York Times.

Does it matter if your obituary makes the newspaper of record or if you are buried without a name in a neglected cemetery plot along a hiking trail? What is immortality? I don’t really know the answer. I am an atheist. I believe the only mortality we have is what we leave behind. The memories of our loved ones. The things we create. The stories we tell. The Boyd twins left their family farm and the small community that they were a big part of.

Mountain Snow

Mount Snow, Vermont

On a recent walk around Mount Snow I saw a rainbow peek out from behind a cloud. It looked like it was headed straight toward the moon. I waited and watched.


Rainbow at Mount Snow.


shoot the Moon

A Rainbow Shot the Moon – Mount Snow, VT

I remembered a movie years ago titled Shoot the Moon with Albert Finney and Diane Keaton. I googled Shoot the Moon and found this: “Today, when someone says that someone will “shoot the moon” it is to go for everything or nothing. It is similar to the phrases “to go for broke,””to go whole hog,” and “to pull out all the stops.” In all cases, one would take a great risk. The idiom suggests that there is as much of a chance of success as there is shooting (a bullet, arrow etc.) and hitting the Moon.”

I went back to writing my fifth novel. A shot at the moon if ever there was one. I have been working on this story for three years now, with stops and starts, with determination and despair. Some days are full of inspiration. Other days are filled with hopelessness. Who will read this book?


Fog from my deck

Fog from my deck


E.L. Doctorow once compared writing to driving in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. Life is like that too and at this moment in time we are traveling through a thick, heavy fog and I fear we are headed for a deadly crash.

During these days of the pandemic I’ve also seen spectacular sunsets from my deck.

sunset on the deck

The view from here ~ Wilmington, VT

I have stood by still waters and felt peace and hope.

Reflection in a lake

Grout Lake – Stratton, Vermont

And I’ve wondered why someone climbed this dying old tree to hang a fishing bob on its bare upper branch.

fishing bob on a tree

Grout Lake ~ Stratton, Vermont

Maybe because it was a challenge. Maybe because it was a hard thing to do. Maybe because no one else had attempted it. Maybe because they were crazy.

Maybe because as Kerouac once said, “My witness is the empty sky.”

16 thoughts on “Reflections on the 4th of July and Other Things

    • I know, no pressure, haha! I was just responding to your comment in your beautiful article. :-). My daughter went to Middlebury for a semester; she got homesick, even though it was beautiful , and people were kind…and came home to Oregon, several years ago :-). Her first comment when she got there ( I was unable to send her there for a physical tour)..was “it reminds me of Oregon”!! :-). I look forward to reading your other books!

      Liked by 1 person

      • ah! I lived in Summit Co, Colorado years ago!!! Love Breckenridge! And I LOVE Montana!!! My son lives here in Portland, OR; my daughter lives back in Bishop, CA. , south of Yosemite, in the mountains; as do much of my extended family. Cannot get enough of either; I tell people; this is how it is when you love many people. :-). My trip down to California was put on hold due to this thing called Covid 19, haha. Have an excellent day.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi Sheila,
    I got email notice of this piece and opened it. To be honest, I had forgotten that I even signed up for your blog, but it must have been a serendipitous action. Just a couple days ago, I mentioned to my husband the desire to move to be closer to like minded folk, and mentioned Vermont, just out of the blue! I loved reading about your 4th of July experiences. What a sharp contrast to the home of VP Pence! I rarely see anyone in masks here, and the parties are large. I was beginning to think that my husband and I must be the only ones aware of the spike in the virus, and how to curb it. And, the politics of the area…. I give up, too.
    It was a fluke that your piece popped into my email box; I needed to know that others ” of us” exist!
    Thanks for reminding me that not all is lost; hoping for a better 2021.
    April S., Indiana

    Liked by 2 people

  2. There is so much to think about these days. Who we are. How we live. What we leave behind. Will anyone care?
    We are mortal beings; we all leave the same way, by dying. But living our best lives, despite setbacks, roadblocks, encounters, too many, with hatred and vitriol, but also with reaching out and touching and being touched by like-minded people. We can find goodness. It doesn’t mean that we ignore or push aside the bad, but we must focus on those good people who drift into our lives, into the lives of our communities, our nation, our world. Good people can make a difference. We can change the world.

    This is a time of profound testing. It’s coming to a head. Goodness will prevail.

    I will read your fifth book. ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I’m always happy when I receive an email saying you have updated your blog. Vermont is a beautiful place that I would love to see one day. Sometime I feel like if I could wrap my little family in a cocoon and shelter us from the craziness of this country, I would. We live in the south where tempers are hot and the virus is raging. Confederate flags wave in inappropriate places and I find it all embarrassing and upsetting and find myself wanting to tell grown people to grow up and take a hard look in the mirror. I have a strong faith and have surely seen some who claim to have that same faith not live it out in recent weeks. Faith is not words, it is actions, in my opinion, and people’s true colors are showing. Sorry to get on a rant. But I find myself so disappointed.
    I think we all have to try and stay informed but also keep our sanity and that means turning it off and reading good books, gardening, spending time with our families, etc. I’ve been helping when I can with a friend’s non-profit rescue, transporting dogs for her to vet appointments for heartworm treatments, checkups, etc. Whatever we can do to get away from the negativity. And if there is something good we can do to help in a peaceful and safe (from the virus) manner, I am ready to do it. I just need to stay safe so I can keep my elderly mother, who I visit and care for every other week, safe. My little granddaughters and their mom give me a reason to keep going and to stay positive every day.
    It is hard to believe this is an election year. November will be interesting, for sure.
    Please keep writing. I’ll read! I always do!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Logan that’s beautiful. Thank you for sharing. We all need each other’s stories right now so we know that we’re not alone. I too want to wrap my girls in a cocoon and promise them a better tomorrow. They are in Missoula and Colorado right now. My older daughter had to go back to work at the German brewery/restaurant where she works. She is one semester away from finally getting her degree at 28. I worry about the both of them every day. Young people are now getting this virus. The story of Nick Corderus’ death, the 41 year old Broadway star who died of Covid19 broke my heart. So young and he suffered so much.
      I always love seeing your comments and ‘m grateful for your continued support. And you even write reviews!
      I’ve spent years trying to change hearts and minds. I don’t know how we do it. I think of arguments I had with people and I just want to shake them and scream “I told you so.” It doesn’t work. So I take a walk in the woods. The trees listen.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Dori. I’ve been trying to come up with a title. That’s a great one. It’s dark and raining right now, coming in bursts like it’s been doing quite often this summer. Waiting for another sign from the universe. From luna moths to rainbows and cairns in lakes if I’m reading the signs I’m thinking better days are lie ahead of us.


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