The List

May 7, 2008 by Ellen Stimson in Living With Intention, Mothering, Vermont

They are all asking. It’s May and Mother’s Day is a little bit early this year. What do you want for Mother’s Day? Is it too early to plant the flowers? Is it still too cold in Vermont? Is there something new you want this year?

We always plant the annuals together on Mother’s Day, and haul the plants and flowers that have been wintering inside back out to the porches. They bring me coffee and the NYT in bed, and we all snuggle around the bedroom for a while before dragging ourselves out to the dirt. In hot years there are pitchers of water laced with cucumbers, and cold ones fat mugs with foamy lattes keep us going.

This year I am planting a vegetable garden. The patch has been chosen and cleared and so there will be spring peas and green beans to plant. And I want the same things I always want. To be with these people we made, and plant toward a future of badminton, and coffee and croissants on the patio with the chickens.

But Hannah called and asked if I was sure I don’t want to look at the list. She meant the list we all always carry around with us in our heads. The list of hopes and plans that are too big for a regular Tuesday, but might get considered around some special holiday or vacation. The lists our family had to put in abeyance during the days of the Alamo when the Horrible Quaint Country Store was busy ruining us financially. She wondered if we all shouldn’t drag out our lists and see if there wasn’t something on them we should make happen this year. Maybe she’s right. Maybe we should.

My list has a rowboat on it. You know it’s romantic and white, meant for two, only I mainly imagine myself with my book in sunshiny water. It has a square rear end with a pointy front end thing like Kathryn Hepburn rowed around in wearing a big hat in On Golden Pond. I covet a row boat. Now there is one little, hardly worth mentioning really, detail. We don’t live on the water. Plus I don’t exactly know how I would get it into the lakes that are nearby. Believe me I have thought about it. I imagine some mechanical thingy on the top of the car, like we use for holding skis and Christmas trees, balancing my boat. I have surfed countless websites and found the perfect little boat, only weighs sixty pounds. But I get stuck imagining what happens when I get to the parking area at the lake and still have that long trek through the woods down to the water.

There is also living in Italy for a year somewhere on the list. And I want to live there with all of these people. If we keep putting it off they might have wives or God forbid jobs.

For many seasons over many years living in Vermont was on the list. So it just goes to show having the thing is the fist step to all the rest of it.

But this year, our girl will be home from her freshman year at Mt Holyoke. The big one has only one college semester to go and he will be here too. The little one will be showing off the skills he is learning in his wilderness class, and we will all be planting the garden and raking the rocks around the patio. This and they are everything I want right now, for today, here in this place. But we should look at their lists. Maybe there are a few country fairs, or summer concerts, or weekend trips to a cabin in the woods on one of theirs. We will bring our lists to the Mother’s Day morning coffee and eggs. Because you just never know….

What’s on your list?


  • Peace is every step

    I also have a mini-boat on my list. Mine is a sea kayak. But I can’t get past “what if it tips over and I have to roll it back up while strapped in and the water is 35 degrees”. That’s why it’s still in list form.
    Happy Mama’s Day!

  • ILX

    ILX said: ask any boater what the definition of a boat is and he will tell you it is a hole in the water one pours money into…now i think they were mainly speaking of power and sail boats but even a cutesy little row boat requires substantial maintenance; painting, varnish, bottom scraping, polishing the brass oar-locks…lots of elbow grease…as far as transport, cabela’s makes a nice little canoe carrier with wheels just for moving small boats thru the woods…and ot folds up when you are done…so there you go…be sure to chill the bubbly before lolling on the lake…

  • Kellan

    A row boat and a cow – you have modest desires that are very romantic and fun! I hope you have a good Mother’s Day!

    Have a good evening – I’ll see you soon – Kellan

  • Don Mills Diva

    So so many things! Everything from spending the winter in Africa to staying in bed for 24 hours just reading and snoozing…

  • TheCynicalOptimist

    Spouses and jobs!! Horrendous you can only pray that doesn’t happen! 😉

    I want some time to read. Period.

  • Mighty Morphin' Mama

    OOh, we have been talking about our list lately too. My dh and I had some joint items that I thought he had given up on, but to my delight he has brought them out and dusted them off again. Exciting!
    Your Mother’s day sounds incredibly beautiful, Happy Mother’s day!

  • library lady

    It was on a float trip down the Meramec River that I learned many things–mostly what will and won’t float after you’ve capsized and how to bury your drowned watch on a sandbar. Don’t take off for Italy until Memorial Day–my ticket is unrefundable!

  • Family Adventure

    I love your blog. Your writing has such a warm and comforting feel to it. Thank you!

    I love the idea of the list … I want to do more travelling with my boys (all three of them). It’s been the best thing we’ve ever done, and I want more of it. Before the kids are too old to want to come with us anymore.

    If you can get away for a year – or even 6 months – DO IT! It is the most wonderful, centering experience.

    Hugs to you – Heidi

  • Angela

    Come get your award!!

  • Bia

    You write so beautifully. Every time I visit I find myself sighing . . . a good sigh, one that makes me take a step back and reflect.

    Lately the only lists I’ve been making are a checklist of daily activities, but tonight I’m off to make a new list . . . and I’m going to think big.

    God bless, and have a wonderful weekend.

  • Kat

    Its a revelation to think about life the way you think about it. A year in Italy? Why not? Money isn’t the main thing, it is rather do you sell the house to do it. What would the jobs be? It is all about how. Like living to VT. Life does not happen to you, you seem to happen to it.
    I am 24. I want to make conscious choices like these. Well not just these. I want to live on a beach.So do I have to be an advertising person, or can I give naturalist tours or something, maybe work with the hotels creating programs for kids. I want the beach, not the job.
    You are helping me think about my life in new ways. Pretty dumb to think I needed a blog for that, huh?Thank you

  • katiedid

    A boat, huh? Well it will be cheaper than Italy
    A garden too, huh? So you could feed yourself in Italy anyway

  • nellie

    Oh I have a boat. Actually I have two. They make you want to live on the water and like kids they demand to go on vacation with you.A boat will create a whole new list beleive me!

  • painted maypole

    cuddling in bed with your grown children? I think that has just been added to my list.

  • the mother of this lot

    Well Vermont’s definitely on my list!

  • Motherhood for Dummies

    I have to admit that a spa would be on my list. I would just love a day by my self and go off and get pampered. Ohhh tooooo dream 🙂

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