Be the Change

October 29, 2008 by Ellen Stimson in Living With Intention, Vermont. New England

I drove home in a windy snowstorm last night ands it isn’t even Halloween. I had on these stupid pointy toed suede boots for which I paid way too much and that can only be worn for about one week in Vermont when it is cold enough for suede and before the real thing hits. It seems really early this year. But come to think of it I think it seems early every year. And then in April we all say how it seems to be hanging around later than usual. Those of us who have moved here from somewhere else all become new Vermonters again when the snow starts to fall every single time.

It isn’t very cold, so only an inch or two actually stayed on the ground and it will probably be gone by tomorrow. But for now with the wind howling and the branches covered in white with a few of their old orangery brown leaves still hanging on, the picture is like a colorized Ansel Adams. If air can have a color ours is gray, and there are just hints of faded color now amidst this cold study in black and white. The whole landscape outside my window is one of melancholy. The leaves will probably never all get blown or raked now. Like grasshoppers we started the chore a little late, and now the tarp is piled high in leaves and icy snow. The hundred or so trees on our smallholding give us many things including a big mess in the fall which because of this early snow will probably still be around in the spring, a little wetter and a lot heavier, but waiting just the same. The world cheerfully resists my attempts to order it.

I once ran for office and created an organization dedicated to helping protect a woman’s right to choose. I tried hard to elect a woman president and haven’t done much to stop this wretched war either. I say either, because I have long since lost the race and the taste for public office. Then I got a little jaded along the way. The organization that I helped found did as much crummy work as good, and while I like our chances in the election next week, this good man is not the woman I so dearly wanted to elect. And I have long since given up on public education for my own kids. I believe in it as a concept, but then Communism used to look good to somebody too. And elitist though it may sounds, I love our private schools. I loved homeschooling too. And the world remains quite content with itself in spite of my various attempts to save it. But my daughter wants to go to Darfur to take pictures and be relevant, and she’d also like to study with the Dalai Lama in India. She doesn’t know the world doesn’t want to be saved and so maybe she will save it.

I might think that doing a little is doing a lot. The day is too gray for me to be sure. But some things are better there than they were and sometimes we have to accept that the perfect can too easily become the enemy of the good. I moved to the mountains to live a life closer to the natural world. Here I have found a gentle beauty and a rhythm that has made me a better person and given our kids and our family lasting gifts we couldn’t predict before we got here. They will take those gifts and have bigger richer lives which will touch others in ways I can’t imagine or predict just now either. And it will be enough.

My Gram used to say, ‘Lord make me a blessing to someone today. I had to move a thousand miles, raise some chickens, climb a bunch of mountains and see snow in October, before I figured out she was right all along. A blessing to someone…
it’s plenty, or at least it’s enough….


  • starrlife

    Great points all! We didn’t get any snow here but it’s damn cold tonight. The boots comment made me laugh, so true.

  • TheCynicalOptimist

    You still have some fight left in you and belief in things good— I can tell!!! Great post! 🙂

    PS- I linked ya in my post today!

  • library lady

    Enough can be plenty when you’re aware that it’s enough. My, that sounds like something I should cross stitch on a sampler for my cubicle here in Library Land. This fall I have been observing what a wonderful background a gray day makes for the leaves. Sure, when the sun hits them they’re magnificent. But on a gray dismal day, they still glow and almost add more light than the street lamps.

  • Molls

    I think we need some more of these Gram stories. You mention her every once in a while and she sounds awesome. I am picturing her making divinity and tossing out these little bits of wisdom while you read your Nancy Drew…see I have been paying attention

  • painted maypole

    lovely post. I hope your daughter does save the world. maybe someday we’ll get the chance to elect her as president.

  • Kat

    I’ll vote for her. Miss Hannahbelle for prersident

  • jamie

    I would have rather seen her in this race as well.I do remain hopeful that once he wins next week (and he will:)) things will begin to change–likely slowly, but like the seasons change will come. We all want to be relevant-we just have to figure out how. What’s the answer? Where’s the contentment? And is there such a thing…?

    Its not snowing here quite yet!! Hope all is well.

  • Mighty Morphin' Mama

    You blessed me today. And yesterday too, when I read your comment. Thank you.

  • Kate

    Well, you bless me every time I read something you write. And there is hope for the younger generation who have not yet been burned by apathy. Their energy and enthusiasm will finally get the best of them and they WILL make the difference we all once wanted to make.

  • jamie

    I am currently reading Paint it Black–have you read it?

  • heather

    Great post! It sounded like you made a quick trip to existential-mart. Early bad weather will do that. But never fear–our daughters will pick up where we left off AND be the better for our efforts.

  • Casdok

    Heres to your daughter and your Gram!
    And you of course!

  • Jennifer

    It’s enough! In my world it is — your comments are so often blessings to me, oh wise one. 🙂

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