Summer Bucket List

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Summer is well under way but by no means is it too late for a Bucket List!

There is so much to see and do here in Vermont and the surrounding areas in the summer. I hope we can cross off quite a few of these activities–especially now that Eli is at an age where he can truly appreciate some of them.

Arts & Entertainment

  • Antiques & Uniques
  • Bread & Puppet
  • Circus Smirkus
  • Tanglewood

Farmer’s Markets

  • Craftsbury Farmer’s Market
  • Burlington Farmer’s Market
  • Montpelier Farmer’s Market
  • Portland, Maine Farmer’s Market ?

Places to Go

  • Family hike
  • Picnic at the lake
  • Visit¬†Cape Cod
  • Caledonia Spirits Tasting & Tour
  • Shelbourne Farms
  • Blueberry picking
  • Strawberry picking

Welcome to Craftsbury: Stillmeadow Gardens

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One of the many gems in our area is Stillmeadow Gardens, a beautiful nursery located in Albany, where all the locals go to get their fuchsias, geraniums, strawberries, herbs and the like. One warm muggy day last month, Simeon, our friend Anya, and I went to visit and picked up a few things to adorn our homes. It was fun to meander the aisles stopping to admire the bright colors and furiously blooming plants. Be forewarned, the colors are so saturated, you may need sunglasses to view these pics! ūüėČ

I know this will be a spot we’ll return to each spring to illumine our yard with the many colors of this beautiful Vermont season.IMG_0745 IMG_0746 IMG_0749 IMG_0750 IMG_0752 IMG_0753

 

Welcome to Craftsbury: Town Meeting

Vermont Town Meeting Day¬†There are many charming things about the small state of Vermont. Even if you’ve never step foot in the Green Mountains I bet you could probably name a few of the state’s charms just from the ubiquity of the Vermont brand…the skiing, the award-winning cheese, the green mountains themselves.

Yet some of the treasures Vermont offers is discovered only by living here. One of these is Town Meeting, an annual day-long event of pure honest-to-goodness local government held the first Tuesday of March. Each town in the state gets together at a public meeting space and goes over the down and dirty of district officer elections, budget approvals, and the like. It can be, um, boring, but also a sweet reminder that our voice and votes matter.

Since we moved to the town of Craftsbury a couple weeks ago, I attended our local Town Meeting at the Craftsbury Academy school house on the common. Sitting in the gymnasium bleachers I witnessed the full effect of engaged civil responsibility. Voters asked questions, ballots were counted, budgets were approved, new officials were elected, and the local high school seniors even catered lunch.

All across the state schools are closed and workers have the day off to attend what is known as¬†the first sign of Spring on the way. Loads of neighbors young and old (I saw one man with a cane and a baby asleep on her father’s shoulder) come together and from their attention and intention, another year is set in the books.

It’s a sweet experience, having come from one of largest states in the union, to see people so actively committed to their locality. What you do in a small town matters. You can’t hide in anonymity. What happens to your neighbors affects you indelibly.

Town meeting. Dare I call it a beautiful thing? It reminds me of how connected we truly are, no matter what state we call home.

Vermont’s Redeeming Qualities

Growing up in California, I remember winters in high school I would bundle up with a scarf and jacket and slip on a pair of rainbow flip flops and head out the door, perhaps a bit chilly but otherwise fine. My friends and I, dressed similarly, would joke about wearing more than one season at a time. We thought we were hilarious. We all wore some variation of this uniform from October to March with hardly a second thought.

This year is my first in the far northeast of Vermont. Like Dorothy out of Kansas, I’m not in California any more.¬†Winter in Vermont is very, very real. To think of wearing flip flops in weather like this is to be legitimately out of your mind. I have no idea where my flip flops are. This morning it was¬†an even 0 degrees outside and the piles of snow mirror the white sky overcast with threatening snow. It’s been a brutal winter by any standard. Many old timers are calling it the worst in years. Am I complaining? Well, yes.¬†In truth it’s been tough on my mental health to stay positive with nearly¬†every day this month reaching negative temps.

Sterling College Executive Chef Simeon BittmanSterling College pork heart

But this post is about Vermont’s redeeming qualities.

+ First of all, the food bounty we’ll be enjoying in a few months is something to salivate over. Last night I joined Simeon and his staff at a Taste of Vermont event and the night was absolutely delicious. Among the abundance local dairy farms offered their precious cheese, yogurt, and ice creams; maple purveyors shared maple delights in every form; and Sterling College offered a unique take on ofal – pork heart straight from their farm in the form of mini Reubens on homemade beet chips.

Vermont+ Secondly, this week I had to go to Vermont’s only Passport Agency to get an expedited passport. (More on that in another post!). Above¬†is what the wait looked like¬†on Tuesday. That’s right. I was the only one there. Even the waiting room itself is a joke. I’ve had the same experience at the DMV multiple times. In Connecticut the line to be told what other line to stand in would take up this whole room. Some could call this Heaven.

Vermont coffee shop+ Another quality I love? There’s always a seat at the coffee shop for me and my laptop. No one comes over to bother me about staying for hours (I always make sure my purchases match the length of my stay). But I never worry about taking up too much space for too long. There’s always enough room for everyone.

So, despite the frigid air and the grey sky, Vermont offers a quality of life that is hard to find elsewhere. Now if only all my friends and family would join us here to enjoy it too. ūüėČ

Winter, Winter, Winter

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For this California girl, the site of the fluffy white stuff on hills, on trees, and on all the bright red barns brings so much pleasure. I can remember years ago, driving up into the Sierra Nevada Mountains and giving a shout of glee at the first sign of something white and icy along the interstate.

I have always been particularly enamored by the way snow flakes stick to every small twig and branch no matter how thin‚Äďa dusting of fairy magic‚Äďor so I’d like to believe. And then there’s the particular quiet majesty of woods covered with snow. Like the earth has put a long finger to puckered¬†lips, shushing us quiet. Then she’s giving¬†a wink and the crack of a smile, an invitation. What can you hear, dear one? What do you see?

The other day I¬†took a brisk walk around our¬†neighborhood and snapped a few pictures of a typical morning ’round our parts.¬†Can you hear the silence?…

NEK Winter

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Mountains of Fire

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It’s no secret that Vermont’s fall foliage boasts some of the richest, most saturated, awe inspiring colors any tree can show. Yet each year the foliage never fails to inspire even the oldest of the old Vermonters. It’s hard not to fall in love with life during the short weeks when Vermont’s¬†Green Mountains are radically transformed from lush¬†hills to mountains of fire.

These photos were taken at the water access point alongside Lake Elligo in the Northeast Kingdom. Last week as I drove home from my weekly co-op run, I turned a bend on Route 14 to find my view opening onto this scene. I pulled over immediately to honor my incredulity.

Magic in the ordinary. That is my life mantra; everyday I find that small moments, miracles really, help illuminate the meaning of this phrase for me. This was one such moment.

The sky was softly dressed in robes of wispy white clouds. Just below, in a chorus of echoing bold tones of orange, gold, rust and red, the hills erupted in joyous song. The harmony of earth and sky reverberated with vitality.

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These kinds of magical moments are easy to miss. Our world offers so much to look at these days, so much constantly vying for our attention. I often hear people describe a kind of attention fatigue that leaves them unable to adequately embrace the present moment with all of their senses.

Living in a rural area certainly has its drawbacks‚Äďthe lack of a good espresso machine anywhere within 40 miles is one. But the gifts‚Äďoh the gifts of an environment which encourages active engagement with all the highest ideals of the good life.¬†Presence. Mindfulness. Abundance. Awe. Gratitude.

I count myself lucky to not only live in an area that affords¬†these values, but lets them bloom freely and abundantly all around me‚Äďsuch as¬†during sunset overlooking lake side foliage.¬†And most of all, I count myself lucky to have the peace of mind to notice it at all.

 

Around here

sunset in vermontOver the weekend I wrote a long blog post about an amazing meal Simeon and I made but the post was accidentally erased before I could post it. What a downer! While I work on re-creating it, here are some brief updates from the NE Kingdom.

I’ve been writing over at The Girl Who Knows. My guest editor-ship will be over at the end of October and I’m already nostalgic about it. It’s been so fun to be a part of the site’s re-launch and to be included among¬†such¬†wonderful co-editors. Check out my latest posts: The Art of the Thank-You Note and How I Learned to Cook.

The fall colors are popping and tree tops are suddenly ablaze. The color riot is one of my most anticipated season changes and I’m so happy it’s finally upon us. Yesterday both¬†Simoen and I, in different cars at different times, stopped on our way home from work about 5 or 6 times to try to capture the reds and oranges, but to no avail. The phone camera just¬†couldn’t capture the magnificence. We’ll try to get better at shooting the colors, so hopefully we’ll have pictures to share soon!

I’m midway through my first level of training in mindfulness facilitation with the Canadian-based non-profit Mindfulness Without Borders. It’s an incredible training and I’m so grateful that I’ll be able to provide this system with our clients next year. Already I’ve watched myself encounter the various revelations that a deep mindfulness practice nurtures and it’s brought me to a new place in relationship with myself. Complemented by the books I’m reading for my masters program (beginning next month) I’m waist-deep in the exploration of consciousness (cognitive development) and awareness (who is me that is aware?). It’s fascinating stuff and I’m absolutely in love with all of it.

Happy Rosh Hashana to all my Jewish readers! Best wishes for a sweet new year. And if you’re not Jewish, Happy Wednesday!