My friend Karen lives on top of Rupert Mountain. She lives there with her husband, my friend Jack. Their house is a rambling property with loosely connected buildings all filled with wide windows to take in the views across Pawlet. They can see the Three Sisters in the distance, sweet little mountains gently hooking arms to form a particular little ridge. The roads look like little charcoal drawings from up there and the sense of time and space are altered by the distance. The dairy down below is just a little outcropping with dots in the fields that might be bushes or trees, but very uncertainly cows. There are no calves mewing for their mothers, or workers in boots thick with muck trying to get everybody in the barn before the storm hits. The flying roof tiles are invisible up so high and the bucolic scene is pristine.
My friends Roger and Ellen live in Sandgate surrounded by the heavily wooded nearly obscured mountains down so low, and a gentle little river meandering through their yard. It courses under their wooden bridge and is the musical backdrop to all the dinners on the porch. The river curves and twists, and manages to look mysterious and inviting all at once. It’s presence colors everything that happens there, the paintings, and the view are taken over by its power.
“You’ve got a nice spot”, is the highest compliment a Vermonter can pay you when he comes to fix your loud boiler, or dump a load of well cured firewood in your yard. A nice spot… being the coveted dream of everyone who lives here. But the definition changes a bit depending on who you are.
We all seem to want a little more isolation than we had in our last life, and a lot more beauty. If you were born here, you may just want to be surrounded by the maples and birches that define our woods. A good wood can keep out a lot of the noise that we transplants, running away from the noise of the city, or families, or big jobs, somehow manage to recreate. People who come here from somewhere else may want the drama that Karen and Jack have, watching the storms roll in just like you can do at a beach, or they may want the complete mixture of woods, and water, and mountains that our friends in Sandgate have found.
Maybe it’s a few mountains in the distance, rising up high and all around you like we have on our own smallolding back lit by a little knoll with meandering paths leading down a ways to a near river, or up just a bit to an old stone tower. I like living in the high valley surrounded on all sides by these fat round nurturing mountains. They are like having a mother’s arms always available. They keep out the noise, and the threat of the war seems far away. People flocked to them after 9/11, and the reasons must have included the sense of comfort from these high hills, as much as the distance from population. Ours are not the dramatic mountains of the west, with sharp craggy outcroppings, and awesome high peaks almost unseeable from the ground. Instead they are a quiet presence, warming and gentling the world around us. The afternoon darkens faster here because of them, and the morning light peeking over the tops is somehow the more gratifying. The run off makes the ground rich with nutrients and the spring flowers attest to the truth of a sweet valley. The sparkly sunshine in winter has the depth always of shadow from whatever mountain is near. There is no such thing up here as miles of clear blue sky, or the simplicity of a constant temperature. We are blessed with the drama of wild fluctuations and views that change just around every corner. It is the gentle drama of wind and snow, and mountain and sun. It plays out again and again, day after day.
And they are all right. We do have a nice spot..each and every one of us.