Back in Vermont just in time for a cold Easter Egg Hunt amid mud and muck. None of us wanted to leave the warmth of the seashore. Only this time we live in that beautiful place we always coveted. Does this mean that the foreign always holds a secret appeal that one can erase only by making it familiar? What would it be like to live here was wondered about yet again. Five years this time before the old desires crept back for at least for one of us. I answered that we’d miss the smell of pine and snow at wintertime. And in the summer the heat would fast lose its appeal as we hustled from one air conditioned space to the next. But the youngest of us looked wistfully at the ocean and said that for him this was beautiful, and he was getting tired of being cold and stuck inside.
I talked about the sweetness of small village life, and the boring repetition of the suburbs where one strip mall looked a lot like the next, and how pretty soon Starbucks would stop seeming exotic. The little one argued that a reliable latte was nothing to sneeze at, and he reminded me of those Christmastime eggnog lattes that might make the absent snow seem less important. He’s a pretty good debater. He also mentioned how we could travel to a wintry place if we missed it much at Christmas when everyone is home from school.
But Florida is not in our future. Unrelenting heat and bugs do not appeal much to the grownups in the group who love these mountains and the change of the seasons. Only this last season is a little long and maybe there is something to be said for sunshine. I remember when we first got here feeling bad that we’d lived the first half of our lives in a place we didn’t love, and feeling lucky and blessed to have found this new life. By the second year we grew more sure that we would spend the rest of our lives in this new place, where the seasons are the main drama, and the quiet pleasures of walking in the woods, and fresh eggs from friendly backyard chickens would be…enough.
The beauty of summer starry nights, and mountains around every corner are still as beguiling as ever. The country life seems more real than our old one which had way too many malls, and the painful heat of our summers chased the kids inside as much as low temperatures can do up here. There were lots of outdoor cafes that nobody ever sat in from May to September excepting late at night when the temperatures fell below 90. And that youngest one who loves the summer and the beach, loves summer here too. He lives outside from May til August, safely riding his bike around the village, roaming freely through woods and in rivers, and swimming wherever the notion takes him. He builds forts and climbs trees. We tease that he is Tom Sawyer come to life.
But it is cold here for a very long time. And we live in a town filled with people who made their money somewhere else and vote Republican in this otherwise liberal little blue state. We somehow found its one Republican town. The snobbery can be exhausting. All the little postcard villages looked the same from a thousand miles away and this one was by the really good school and not far from the wonderful bookstore. If we had it to do over we’d have looked in hippie Pawlet where the dandelions take over the fields in May because no one there uses pesticides and everybody is organic. There is a painter there who shows you his work and offers you a joint while you browse. No one seems to notice.
Then there is Italy. That siren call still haunts us all. A year in Italy we muse. How will we fund it we wonder. Not really whether, but when. Will that year turn into a life? Will this life fade away to a place where I don’t have to get on a plane to work? Should we get a couple more baby chicks this spring? They live for four or five years. New chicks extend our commitment to this place or at least one very like it. In two more years Eli will be in high school. That means four years in one place. And if we wait too long one of the older ones might settle into a career or a marriage and not want to run away with us for a year.
What do we really value? The questions multiply while springtime dawdles….