Ten below zero was digitally displayed on my kitchen counter. Vermont early on a Saturday morning. The mercury like the bathroom scale doesn’t lie. I was not interested in knowing the windchill factor as an extra layer of apparel would suffice. I stretched on a favorite pair of orange cloth running gloves while adjusting my great-grandmother’s engagement ring. Mittens were added over my gloves. My Skida hat pulled low and tight. Sunglasses in place.
Invigorated by the wall of dry cold air as I exited the warmth of my little house on the hill. A comforting abundance of quiet guided my every step down the driveway. No wind just stillness. The early morning sun sparkled and bounced off each flake of snow. Suboptimum conditions by some standards but not mine. I needed to know the world was still turning. The earth solid. Dependable.
White smoke billowed high from the few visible chimneys I passed as I made my way down the street. Cozy and warm. Robert Frost inspired. A brook nearly covered in icy white. I envied nature’s perfect artistic design. I pulled my wool neck gaiter up over my mouth to filter the cold dry air while seeking my own warmth.
I pushed the freezing temperatures out of my mind as it was just the weather. I took the opportunity instead to think. I had an otherworldly chat with my mom. Asked her for some direction as my brain was pandemically exhausted. I thought about the very modest diamond engagement ring that spins around my right ring finger. I wear it sometimes to feel close to the strong women of my family that have been long since passed. The small diamond securely rests in a delicate etched platinum setting. The band is thin, light, and fragile but carries the weight of America’s history since post-Civil War era.
The value of the ring rests in the memory of the woman who romantically wore it first. My namesake. Elizabeth Kent lived nearly a hundred years. A life that spanned the days of horse and buggy to a man walking on the moon. I started doing the mental historical math of the many years of the American experience since this precious little ring was placed on her finger. Wars, pandemics, political corruption, and sadly an insurrection to name just a few of the defining dark moments. A relatively young country with trying growing pains. A teenager testing and pushing the boundaries.
I watched early this morning the video that marked President Biden’s first year in office. Narrated by Tom Hanks. Images of America and fellow Americans filled the screen. Cherished farmers. Healthcare workers. Americans getting vaccinated. Americans going back to work. Small businesses reopening their doors while supporting their local economies. I fondly remembered that America. Hardworking Americans daily doing what is needed to be done. Unsung heroes. I love thinking about that America…
“Platinum has been much more resilient than we expected.” John Reade