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As the one-year anniversary of the tragedy of 11/9 approaches, I sense in my friends, what I increasingly feel inside. A weariness. Of the soul.
Perhaps we’re surprised that our generation, so rich in freedom, could be surrounded by so much suffering. While equally astonished at how often our hearts must break.
It’s as if we’ve been limping through this year, lifting our heads up from each appalling circumstance to align with our vision of what can be (what should be!), again and again.
While all along our crushed hearts have somehow… enlarged!
Demonstrating an astonishing capacity. To grieve. To fight. To love. Beyond what we ever imagined, at such a privileged time in history, necessary.
And then, how many times might we make one last stop for ice cream–because the weather is so unseasonably warm…
I’m desperately grasping.
Toward what remains.
All that is local–from the earth right here in my garden or the farm stand up the road or the farmer’s market downtown tucked beside the brook encircled by trees.
Yellow peppers sing in my mouth.
I don’t know what they’re singing
But I can feel the vibration.
Parsley. Dill. Leafy greens.
What tomatoes do, is so intimate, as to be unspeakable.
A sacrament of my senses.
18 years ago, I sold my childhood pony to a wonderful family in Connecticut–in order to buy my next horse (I was quickly outgrowing her–even prayed her legs would grow.)
It was probably the first “adult decision” I had to make, and it was a hard one.
I made a list of all the things I wanted my mom to tell her new owners. The most important being that if for any reason they were to need to find her a new home, I wanted the first option to buy her back.
Well 18 years later my pony has come back to me.
It’s a fairytale ending.
I am grateful and my heart is full.
In 1993, my new husband and I relocated from the Jersey shore to Vermont after I was hired to teach third & fourth grade in Wilmington. We lived in a little cape beside Green Mountain National Forest for 7 years–the longest I’d ever lived in any one place. That property just went on the market, and although we left it seventeen years ago for a home we built for ourselves, the little house and it’s neighbors still hold a tender space in our hearts.
Tonight, I came across this letter that I wrote to the newspaper just after we left the Deerfield Valley for a mountaintop town, 12 miles east. It’s nice to be reminded of how welcomed we were once upon a time.
To the Editor
Although our family has simply relocated to neighboring Marlboro, I wanted to take this opportunity to publicly thank some of the day to day people who touched our lives in Wilmington:
to Fire Chief Brian Johnson, who was not only our first neighbor for a short while, but also responded with his crew to more than one call to our home over the years;
to retired Police Chief Tom Donnelly whose involvement in the community, especially in the schools, was beautiful;
to Deerfield Valley Elementary School (where I taught for a year), its staff, students and parents who served as my first community in the Valley;
to Harriet and Vivian at Pettee Memorial, who always made coming to the library a joyful experience for myself and my son Lloyd (we are forever grateful!);
to the checkers at Grand Union who never failed to marvel at my children (special mention to Joanne for the video tips);
to Michel (from Berkely and Veller) and Lynne Matthews who were much more than realtors to us when we arrived as strangers to this area;
to Mr. Gerdes, who I have never actually met or even seen from out behind the steering wheel of the school bus he drives–thank you so much for the daily waves, it’s hard to convey the significance they hold for me;
to Deborah and Wendy at the post office, simply for being there every day;
to the guys (and gals?) who do such a good job on the snowy roads;
to the Valley News for letting us know what was “happening” each week;
to the people who create and organize the annual events which help define and enrich the seasons of our lives;
to Len Chapman, aka “Uncle Lenny”, our landlord, and Diane Classon, and to their families (and to all our neighbors in Medburyville), who became our “family” in Vermont and provided a beautiful place for us to grow;
and lastly, to the many others who I have not mentioned- on behalf of myself, my husband Casey Deane, and our sons Lloyd and Aidan–thank you for being such an important part of our lives in the Valley.
Our first home in Vermont.
The sweet little cape in the back of this photo–at the edge of the Green Mountain National Forest–with a brook & a tire swing & a treehouse in the backyard.
Chickens & horses & mice & bears.
Antiquing, weddings, cookouts, cocktails & neighborhood town meetings in the barn.
Landlords, like family.
Communal gardens & holidays & heartache.
The longest place I’d ever lived (1993-2000.)
Taught 3rd & 4th grade.
Ran a few non-profits.
Worked at a pizza parlor & a video store.
Became a mother.
Lost my mother.
Babies conceived, miscarried, delivered & breastfed.
Lloyd turned one, two, three, four, five.
Aidan born upstairs.
Casey became a teacher.
Both of us turned 30.
Published my first piece of writing.
Almost as soon as I began to set my roots down in Vermont, a quarter-century ago, it began to change me. It wasn’t always pretty, and it was frequently painful, particularly given my level of resistance, and yet, I also gave myself to it–surrendered to these Green Mountains & brooks & black flies & breasts & babies and found myself inspired by the older sisters I never had–first the homesteaders and the healers, then the advocates and the activists, the mystics and the artists--sometimes younger than me, sometimes male, and always among them–fertile permission to live my life as art–which for me means moving forward in the dark of not knowing for sure.
“Eccentric,” a college classmate once accused me, “If not for that, you’d be successful.”
She may have been right, but I wouldn’t have been “home” in that kind of success.