When it didn’t disintegrate harmlessly in the air, the two women in the car realized that what had just blown off the truck’s roof was not snow. Seconds later a block of ice the size of a shoebox slammed into the windshield on the passenger’s side, shattering the glass and the morning calm. My wife, Joanie, managed to steer the car to the shoulder and then to a small gas station near the town of Brewer, Maine, while our daughter, Annie, picked fragments of glass from her face. Somehow, no one was hurt. Inside the tiny market, its shelves crammed with soup cans and potato sticks, Sharon, the proprietor, swung into action, finding a tow company and doling out sympathy. She refused Joanie’s money for coffee (“It’s an hour old. I should have made a new pot”), all the while keeping up a kindly banter with the rough-hewn customers who came in to buy beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets, asking about their Christmas, their families, a grandson’s hockey game. And they, looking at the car outside the window, asked what had happened, responding with a mix of awe and compassion that made us feel we were not strangers. Here in a small market in rural Maine, where people come in to buy hope and ease disappointment, and where we had washed up by frightening chance, we had become, if only for a moment, part of a community, enveloped in its kindness and its humor, watching hope arise from the wreckage.