(note: all photos copyright)
Watch out or Vermont will change your life. I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but I have some theories…
First of all, it is fantastically beautiful… each day, around some new or familiar corner, is a gift of sight or smell or sound. There is so much raw experience of nature here and it’s offered freely without human ingenuity.
I did not search to find a young deer nibbling in the field yesterday, she simply appeared and allowed me to gaze upon her. I did not coax the leaves around my home to burst into colors dazzling my senses. Nor did I ask the apples to give off their sweet smell on this crisp morning. And I did not beckon the mists to hang in the valley shrouding the hillsides.
All of this just IS– in a place where civilization and nature harmonize.
A friend of mine said that one of the strongest reasons she had for living in Vermont was the “tree to people ratio.” And it’s true, there’s always one (or a hundred trees) around when I need them… whether it be for shade or climbing, building or embracing. The woods here take me from season to season– from the lushness of summer to the naked clarity of winter.
I have a deep appreciation for the water in Vermont as well… the sound of it mostly, and the stillness it brings. I have the gift of a brook in my back yard, just off my bedroom door, and I fall asleep to its soft lullaby at night and wake in the morning to the sun rising over it… in pinks and purples and golds.
Then there are the people who live here in this place called Vermont. They are as unique and as diverse as the seasons themselves. Most lacking the knack (or need) at pretending to be friendly, but all expressing the ability to relate to one another in ways that matter most. It is their example and courage that help me uncover my own path in this world as we each embrace life here.
As a place and a people, Vermont holds a transformative energy. I feel it as a melting , a slowing down. I’ve begun to notice that there is this whole other world out there where life is moving much too fast; suddenly I’m no longer part of it.
May Sarton writes that ‘Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature… is an instrument of grace.’
Life in Vermont is such an instrument. The rhythm of existence here offers more of a choice in how time passes, and that is no truer than in the winter months.
Time stands still in a snowfall. Lives are suspended. The world reborn. There’s at least half a year for that kind of renewal here, and this is food for the soul (even if it makes me a bit crazy .)
Then there are those other fickle seasons that don’t stay around as long. I don’t think I ever gave much thought to mud until I moved to Vermont. Now I revere is as the first sign of spring (no matter what it does to my floors.)
And when those buds start to appear on the trees, it’s like Christmas all over again. I decide that I won’t relocate or get divorced and that maybe I will have another child. The months of shoveling and the layers of outerwear suddenly make sense when what has been white and brown for so very, very long is appearing again in color.
Colors are enchanting in Vermont. They lure loads of visitors to our state each fall. I don’t know of anybody, of any age, tourist or Vermonter, who can walk by a tree on fire and not stop to marvel at creation.
There are days when I unconsciously drive home from work, pull up to my house, walk to the door, and then freeze– as the hillside engages me in worship. All the mundane falls away and my troubles disconnect. The brilliance of nature beckons, and none can resist her call.
Perhaps this explains why Vermont is home to so many artists and artisans, poets and musicians, healers and teachers; who in their practice give back so much of the beauty they find here.
To these children, Vermont offers her deep Winters to tend their work; her vibrant Springs to recharge; her lush Summers to evoke; and her rich Autumns to nourish.
In the short time that I’ve lived in Vermont, I’ve come to know her as a LIVING, breathing being.
Vermont is Life– so much more than buildings and careers and thoughts. She is beautiful and powerful. She is cold and she is icy. She calls me forth to look upon her, and to see myself in her reflection. She shows me struggle, hope, beauty and death.
She causes me to draw within and renew my ties to that which I am made.
(Wilmington, VT, 1999)