Commentary, Opinion

Thankful to be alive in Vermont

By Madeleine May Kunin

Editor’s note: This commentary is by former Gov. Madeleine Kunin, a Democrat and the first woman to serve as the governor of the state of Vermont.

I was driving home on a September evening when the air started to turn cool. I glanced out my side window and caught a pink, puffy line stretching across the sky. Several gray stripes were layered underneath the pink. A wash of red spilled across the horizon.

“Let’s go down to the beach and see the sunset,” my friend said.

We parked the car, got out, and stood still to get the full view of the moving colors — black, gray, red, gold.

The sky already had become different than before. Each minute the sunset evolved into something new. The black clouds reached up from the water and were back lit. The sun was almost down, embraced by liquid gold light that seemed alive as it moved. This was good fire, harmless, stunning and about to go out.

I leaned against the metal fence that drew a straight line against the shore.

“Thank you,” I said to myself.

I breathed in and out, conscious of my breath. Aware of the stillness, except for the cricket’s rhythm.

I had tamped down the news of the day. It was gone, for now.

The new Texas abortion law which had eliminated almost all access to legal, safe abortion. It would affect poor women most of all, I had feared. As I breathed in the colors of the sunset, I pushed away the fate of women in Afghanistan who would be under lock and key again. I blotted out flood victims in Louisiana who stood in shock in front of a pile of sticks and cement which had been their home.

I left the hurricane victims in Haiti, the interpreters at the Kabul airport. I looked at the blazing sunset, reflected in red water, and thanked God that I was alive — and in Vermont.

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