I gaze – for that is the only right word with its gauzy z – up the Onion River and marvel at the pedestrian name for such a luminous thing. It’s quiet, tranquil, a glorified mountain stream really, and yet it cuts this city – this capital city apart from itself. But the people here, they did not let this geography sever them. They built bridges, steel girders to tie them to themselves.

We are in Montpelier, VT, and I am in love.

This city – although I find that word hard to apply here – is tucked against mountains I cannot name. The flashy gold of the capitol building set against the green of pines and maples, the backdrop of a painting not a government.

Almost nothing is open, our National Holiday closing downtown like an Italian village at siesta, all the heat driving people to nap and, here, float down rivers.

We walk past a coffee shop so full that waiting, caffeine-deprived people sit on the stoop as the host tells them that “soon, a table will open. If you can just wait here . . . ”

Across the street, K points out a bookstore. Rivendell Books. “Where the elves live,” I say.

She doesn’t get it. “I haven’t read Lord of the Rings. I don’t read fantasy or sci-fi.”

This will become our running joke for the rest of the trip as I point our her penchant for Harry Potter that runs so deep she compares the streamy fog in the Hudson River Valley and compares it to Dumbledore’s pensieve.

We reach Rivendell, and I sigh in delight at the open door. On the right, there is a full section on homesteading, timberframing, organic gardening. I want to load my arms with books and have to hold them in place with my chin.

I buy only one after we spend 30 minutes browsing.

***
As we walk back to the car, we cross a bridge. I gaze down at the Onion River.

These days, it feels like all the bridges to myself are being rebuilt. Architectural histories that gird me together.