Friday, March 7, 2014



As a writer, I travel to fascinating places. I've been on top of Mt. Greylock, in an attic full of bats, battling a storm over the Atlantic Ocean––in my imagination.

I also get to visit bookstores, classrooms and libraries all across the country. Last Sunday, I went someplace I have never been. Inside a yurt.

This yurt is the special place for the youth group at the Universalist Unitarian Church in Hartland, Vermont. I was fortunate enough to be invited inside to speak with them.

I read the section from The Desperate Adventures of Zeno and Alya in which Zeno first meets the homing pigeons. Zeno knows 127 words, but he isn't quite clear on the meaning of  “friend” or “home.” He has heard that a friend is "another I," so he thinks his friends should also be African grey parrots.

The kids were much wiser. They knew the Golden Rule says we should treat our friends as if they were ourselves. They knew it would be boring if we were all the same. They knew that they can learn from having friends who are different. They knew the distinction between a house and a home.

It was fitting that we discussed those ideas in the yurt. The word "yurt" means "home" in  Mongolian. The kids were of different ages and had different experiences. Several had moved quite a lot. I could tell that belonging to this youth group means a great deal to them.

Nomadic people carry their homes with them. We may not have such beautiful portable structures or any camels to help lug them. But we can still bring our friends and families with us wherever we go. As well as a few books!