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  • Much is made of midsummer in some parts of the world. The solstice. Pagan celebrations. Christian celebrations. Night fires. And there is that play by Shakespeare.

    In Burlington, Vermont, however, summer’s glory shone most brightly this year about a month past midsummer. In late July, not late June. On July 21, to be precise. From 11:04 a.m. to 11:08 a.m., to be even more precise.

    In this 4-minute interlude, no one in the city of Burlington did anything joylessly. No one. Nothing. And, as a result — or perhaps it was the cause — not a single action of any consequence transpired. Below is a list of the four most important things to have occurred in the entire city of Burlington during this brief span of time. Please note their inconsequentiality. The events are in ascending order of importance, which is quite a relative value in this case, with the most important event being listed last:

    1. The King Street Youth Center sold lemonade in two sizes of cup. They apologized for their not offering lids with which to cover the cups. They made available drinking straws in five colors: red, blue, purple, green, and orange.

    2. A lawyer named Gail was pleased, but not overly so, to discover that her office computer printer was not out of order but, rather, out of paper. Of which there was plenty in the supply closet down the hall.

    3. The ghost of an immigrant tailor from Hungary who’d died in the Second World War walked the length of College Street, from the Williams Hall lawn, on the University of Vermont campus, to the Lake Champlain waterfront. At the intersection of North Winooski Avenue, he thought he heard fiddle music coming from a house in the row of houses where his brother lived but decided his ears were playing tricks on him. He continued on with the melody of a song played at his brother’s wedding ringing in his head.

    4. Two music students, Daniel and Isaiah, from Oregon and Tennessee, respectively, performed a piece of music on cellos while sitting on a park bench on the Church Street Marketplace. They lacked a permit for such a performance, but they were not reprimanded and received no fine.

    In the course of their performance, very small children who had never paid much attention to anything in their lives — who some thought (erroneously) still lacked the capacity to focus on anything for more than a few seconds — paid rapt attention to the performers. Rapt attention indeed. To have seen it, one would have agreed that this quality of attention suggested, if not indicated, joy.

    You have been listening to that song.
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