The blind man told me, “Listen to the river. The river will tell you where you are. And when you know where you are, you’ll know where to go.
So I said, “But wait. You were there in summertime. When I’m there, the river will be frozen.”
And now I am here, the place we once called “there.” And the river flows. Oh, there’s snow. This is Vermont in wintertime. But through this village, the water flows faster than the cold.
This is a community of artists: painters, sculptors, writers. We come to create. We come from all over. We come to the land where rivers flow north.
Randy leads me over the bridge — over the river. As the whoosh of the water fades, he steers down the path toward my writing office. I have a story in mind. It was there when I awoke. I want to turn thoughts into words. In my bag, I carry my laptop, its cables, its memory.
We have wind-generated electric power here. We have Wi Fi and cell phone towers. My GPS tells me I’m 773.78 miles from its favorite place. So I text home and say, “I miss you, Honey,” and she texts right back and says, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Valentine.”
The writing office overlooks the river. When the first blind man was here, he listened to the river through the opened window. But it’s winter, so I choose warmth with quiet. Randy gazes toward the river bank, where mink and raccoon gather. As I unpack my bag, he circles twice and curls up on the rug. I whisper my morning prayer of gratitude. I begin to write. Just a line to start me out; the rest will come, without a doubt.
JEFF’S NOTE: I was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts, Creative Access Fellowship, to be a writing resident at the Vermont Studio Center. The Creative Access Fellowship is targeted for blind and visually impaired writers. I will be crossing the river here in Johnson, Vermont throughout the month of February.