It's a Ducati Multistrada (the one we both drooled over sleek pictures of online until people started asking why we were trying to hug a computer monitor) that we load up, wolfing muffins and tea as we work, with dawn just breaking and strings of mist being tugged from the familiarly scruffy mountains. The motorbike is narrow but sturdy, and does not complain as duffel bag after duffel bag is secured to the back. I think her name is Kaylee.
We set off at last, two girls and a motorcycle with the wind tightening our clothes, and take turns driving and sitting in back. Cars zip by us; other bikers hover beside us on the winding Vermont highways as if discreetly trying to race us and we always let them get ahead and "win" because we know enough about structural engineering to play by the rules.
By the late morning, we've crossed the bottom tail of Lake Champlain into New York. We stop for lunch at a fast-food joint in Utica. The open bike does little to contain sound, but we blast pop-rock songs on the radio anyway and ignore the disgruntled looks when we pass through cities. Time blurs between Maroon 5, Adele, Green Day and One Direction, who we argue about (you like them; I don't) in the way that people argue when they don't expect to convince anyone of anything and don't really care. Read more »
By Owen O'Leary
Bernice A. Ray Elementary School, Grade 4
This place is more barren than any desert on earth,
rocky and dry.
I feel light as I leap high into the dark sky.
The dry air in this place burns my tongue.
The dust feels so dry and tasteless on my lips and tongue.
All the shades of gray and white fill this place, Read more »
The story below -- written in response to this Norman Rockwell painting -- was one of the winning entries in the 2005/06 Vermont Honors Competition for Excellence in Writing, an annual competition overseen by the University of Vermont. Sarah Guillot, now in 10th grade, won the ninth grade competition and was awarded $2,000 for this story, one of two she was assigned to write in a timed competition with four other finalists from her class. Awards were given for all four high school grades; thousands of students from about 50 Vermont high schools competed in a series of “write-offs” that began in December. To see another essay by Kayla Gatos, click here.
Norman Rockwell painted "Looking out to sea," also called “The Stay at Homes (Outward Bound),” as a story illustration for the Ladies’ Home Journal in October 1927. The painting is in the permanent collection of the Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Mass., where Rockwell lived for many years. He also lived in Arlington, Vt. Reprint licensed by Norman Rockwell Licensing, Niles, IL.
By Sarah Guillot
“Tha’s a pretty one,” Gramps said, pointing out to the white-sailed ship.
“Mm-hm,” Bobby responded, squinting against the glare off the water. He could feel Gramps’ gnarled hand heavy on his shoulder, pushing him down. It felt like the shadowed earth would sink down and swallow him up. Pip wriggled at his side, just happy to be with Bobby.