Our job is to listen….


Recent heavy rains have brought down the majority of the Vermont autumn leaves blanketing our once emerald green pastures. Maybe the heavens are crying too. Driving down my Vermont street maybe a little too fast as intensity seems to fuel each thought and action these emotionally challenging days. Remembering to breathe during my flight home from the one of two infrequent errands I run these days. Post Office and groceries.  I glance up and notice a bouquet of gold on the hillside without competition from the oaks, the maples or the other autumn leaf contributors.  Larches basking in the mid-morning sun I suspect making their glorious presence known and no longer in the shadow of the rest. Their moment in the sun.

We are all searching for some relief right now. We are fatigued. Needing and wanting just a moment here and there. A reprieve. Covid-19, politics, and the election. Devastating fires out west. Covid-19, politics, and the election. Hurricanes in the Gulf. Covid-19, politics, and the election. Drought in the northeast. Covid-19, politics, and the election. 

My daughter and her newborn daughter stayed with us in Vermont for just about a week recently. Gratefully I have spent a number of days and hours with them since her birth to “help” my daughter when in fact the opposite is closer to the truth. Just a room away in my quest to find an urgent baby item as my granddaughters’ lungs were being exercised at about 4pm on a nameless day last week. She had our attention in quick order. As I was frantically rummaging through the makeshift changing table in search of the item my daughter requested, I noticed something.  This infant, this growing baby was signaling us with a different cry. I had forgotten over the many years but smiled as I recognized the difference. She is now old enough even in her young infancy to communicate her needs to us.  Our job is to listen. To really hear what she needs. The cry was not urgently signaling hunger nor expressing discomfort as it possessed a different rhythm. I sometimes get bored at 4pm too… 

Late this past Sunday afternoon the house quiet once again with just us two. The windows open a sliver as the feel of November is suddenly upon us. The sky a quiet gray and a cold wind gets my attention and is not as welcome as a summer’s gentle breeze. Hearing a reoccurring moo from the cow pasture next door I sat for a moment trying to distinguish her cry. Continuous and frequent were this mama’s protests. I have heard this low persistent and insistent moo before. Suspecting her eight-month-old calf had been weaned from her. Hard to know if the calf was simply relocated out of sight to another field but could still hear her? Possibly sold? Life on a farm. The day turned to night and her solo song went unanswered even as the new day began. As I hoped she was not in as much emotional distress as she sounded. I could only equate and reflect on my own empty nest feelings from years ago.  Her cry was not of physical pain but that of longing for her baby. The solitary moments of the new day offered her no relief …

Evil sometimes lurks in the night. Our darkest hours are often our darkest hours. Last night as was reported this morning on social media by a Vermont renowned artist an unacceptably horrific racist statement combined with pro Trump rhetoric desecrated one of our remote country roads. The many comments posted gave me some reassurance that my fellow man and woman found this act as heinous as I did. According to the asked and answered comments it was impossible just to erase the hate filled words as they were intended to make a permanent statement in the soil.  A creative with access to acrylic paint swiftly acted. He and his lovely wife rewrote the narrative by changing the words and the intent. The racial slur may be physically gone but certainly not forgotten as the images posted are haunting. Today I weep in despair. We must really listen to the cries for justice… 

We must rewrite the current political narrative that protects, and fosters hate… 

“From my point of view, no label, no slogan, no party, no skin color, and indeed no religion is more important than the human being.” James Baldwin

                                                   Vote November, 3….

Author: Elizabeth Ricketson

A graduate of Providence College with a BA in English, Elizabeth Ricketson has always had a love of literature and the fine arts. Elizabeth’s essays focus on life experiences and life in Vermont.

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