When I first started writing blogs I began a series called Walking – 365 days. The blogs were my travelogue as I explored on foot my new surroundings. I also began to find my voice and express my opinions. When I first started blogging I had been intimidated by some negative reviews regarding my characters’ opinions in my first novel The Reverse Commute. Of course they were my opinions too.
I quickly got over it and began to share my observations of the income inequality in South Florida, the migrant workers riding on the back of trucks, sitting on top of palm fronds they’d trimmed in the midday heat on a summer day in Florida. Th guard houses at the entrances to gated communities. Mansions on the beach with the ever present Private sign as in this is my beach not yours. A bejeweled woman on the Starbucks’ patio in Boca Raton talking to her friend, “No, that was my first Russian husband. I was talking about my second Russian husband.”
The opinions aren’t going away. They’re stronger than ever and I wish more Republicans who are disenchanted with Trump would speak up. This morning I woke to the news Cindy McCain is endorsing Joe Biden. I also woke to the news that an autistic young boy in Salt Lake City, Utah was shot 12 times by the police after his mother called and made a point of saying “he does not have a gun.” This time they didn’t kill him but he has numerous injuries including broken bones and pierced organs.
We wake each day to an onslaught of frightening, depressing news. I try to walk it off everyday. Some days it doesn’t happen. I’m slain by sorrow and defeat. I’m angry with those who for years ignored all this. Those who still support all this are beyond my comprehension and my ability to forgive.
Vermont roads are not like Florida roads. There are few sidewalks. There are steep hills and other obstacles. There are no breakdown lanes on rural dirt roads. Instead there are gullies and having already broken both ankles six years ago, days before Rich and I became innkeepers, I really need to pay attention. These walks are my salvation from the miserable Days of Trump and the Coronavirus.
THE WALK I SHOULD HAVE SKIPPED
It was Saturday. Rich was chopping wood. Winter is fast approaching. We’re expecting a frost this week. I drove to Dover where there is a paved walking/biking path along scenic Route 100.
Couples were dining outdoors, sharing bottles of wine on the lawn at the West Dover Inn. The Congregational Church had a large sign thanking First Responders along with a note hanging on a clothesline from a woman who was making masks. Michelle, my daughter in Missoula, has been making masks for family and friends and former co-workers who were laid off from Lucky’s grocery store which was bought out by Kroger’s and two years later closed all the Lucky’s stores. I guess that’s one way to kill your competition.
There were also drawings from Sunday school students and the rainbow flag that announces God is Still Speaking which is very popular in this northeast corner of our troubled nation.
It was a beautiful blue sky day. The air was cool with a slight breeze. Traffic wasn’t too bad on this scenic byway. Then I got to Layla’s Riverside Lodge.
Motorcycles and trucks with gigantic Trump flags passed by on Route 100, tooting their horns and shouting out in solidarity to their fellow cult members holding a Trump rally in the parking lot. I flipped them the bird and kept walking. I wanted to shout “get the fuck out of my state” but unlike the out-of-state cars in the inn’s parking lot many of these passersby had Vermont plates. No one in the parking lot was wearing a mask. I kept my distance out on the sidewalk.
It certainly changed my mood and my thoughts moved from inspiration to dread and dystopian nightmares of the future.
Further down the road the walking path takes a turn behind a restaurant. It’s quieter here and there’s a trail that heads up the mountain. On the sidewalk was a discarded sign of the times.
When I walked back to my car that was parked at The Saloon most of the Trumpsters were gone. Back at home a friend texted and told me she saw a lot of flag waving Trump voters driving through Western Massachusetts and the NY Times was reporting on Trump supporters disrupting and intimidating early voters in Virginia.
I’m nervous about the days between November 3rd and January 20th.
THE WALK THAT GAVE ME A TEASPOON OF HOPE
On Sunday Rich was golfing. I drove to Brattleboro where there are plenty of sidewalks and everyone wears a mask.
Signs of hope and resistance were everywhere.
I also traveled down side alleys I had never explored before. They all lead to the West River which is a tributary of the Connecticut River.
I kept walking out of the downtown area and into a neighborhood I had always been curious about. There were a variety of Victorian style houses, ranch houses, and a stucco house that looked like it belonged in Palm Beach, Florida. One house had a swimming pool with a view of the New Hampshire mountains just across the river.
Then I came across what looked like an old mansion now converted into assisted living for the elderly. I noticed a neon sign in an attic window that simply said Hi.
Like the thoughts in my head the photo’s a little blurry. I didn’t want to climb the hill that this nursing home sits on. There was no guard house but there was a No Trespassing sign.
So I took a blurry picture and headed back to the parking lot across from the brewery near the bridge that crosses the river into New Hampshire. I thought about the elderly man or woman in the attic. I thought about my mother’s last days in a nursing home. How the staff was so kind and how sad my Dad was to not have her at home because their condo was still being repaired from the fire that spread from the next door neighbor’s condo. Then I thought of John Prine and how he succumbed to the coronavirus and although Sunday’s walk was much more hopeful than Saturday’s I still felt sad and defeated while this song floated through my thoughts.
What are you doing to keep your sanity in these trying times we live in?
Are you feeling sad too?