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  • I'm in the city for a meeting on a glittering late summer afternoon. Geoff and I leave the office to continue our talk. We walk to the park above the lake that stretches its sparkle out to the soft velvet fold of mountains. Summer flows through the air.

    A young boy, maybe four or five, scampers by on the path in front of us. He's wearing the coolest sunglasses.
    I tell him that: "Those are the coolest shades."
    He looks at me as though I should have my head examined or I'm one of those creepy people who sit on park benches and wait for kids.
    Behind him his father calls out. In German.
    Ah. European. No wonder the cool. No wonder the look. He doesn't understand.

    I turn back to the good point Geoff's making about Vermont kids and stories, but I can't help peeking at the family just beyond. It's a story right here. They've climbed up onto the high wide parapet overlooking the lake, and they're snapping pictures of themselves up there, the huge blue lake dotted with a clutch of small sailboats in the background.

    The grandfather--I'll call him that--walks away from the group, along the balustrade. He stops right in front of us, turns to the water and stands up there, alone. Like a kid on a railing blocking the view. He holds still, hands clasped behind his back, face tilted up slightly to the breeze, and gazes out. His family pays him no heed. They're still snapping photos with their phones and chatting and laughing.

    This old man in salwar kameez and skullcap balances as though on a ship at sea, as though this is exactly what one ought to do on a gorgeous summer afternoon in Vermont. But I've never before seen an old man in salwar kameez standing on a parapet in Vermont. What's he thinking about? The near? The far? How the air feels on his skin? How those sailboats look like children playing? Things that have made him happy? Things that have broken his heart? The bruised world?

    Geoff's quiet, seems to wondering the same thing.

    If I look beyond him to the lake and the mountains, I know this is Vermont. If I look at the old man in salwar kameez and listen to the little boy and his father speak German and glance about at all the people in this park going about their summer day, I have no idea where I am. I could be in New York. London.

    Not the second whitest state in the nation.

    But even here is the wide world. Even here.
    For a moment it shimmers with sun and sky and water.
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