A Country Minute

May 18, 2009 by Ellen Stimson in Vermont. New England

Graduation was lovely. It started at good with the diploma and then just kept getting better with friends and family and jolly toasts and warm funny stories. The weather was sunny and cool and as we stood amid lambs and kids, under a canopy of old maple trees I thought how different we are as a family than when Benjamin first began his college journey. Then we had just moved to Vermont and had no idea who our friends would be, or that we would buy America’s oldest country store and run town Easter Egg Hunts for hundreds. I didn’t know that I would start and sell a couple more companies or expand this development business that would fulfill me in new and deep and unexpected ways. We didn’t know that we would be raising chickens much less lambs. I had never imagined herbs in the windowsill nevermind a whole way of eating and feeding ourselves with juicy tomatoes grown under the sun next to dandelions and ancient maples. Home schooling wasn’t even an idea back then. Before a year had passed it was a passion that transformed our lives for a while. Our kids had barely given up malls and we hadn’t yet found badminton, the river over on Peace Street, the waterfall or movies on the side of the house. Living in the country was still about the views and not so much yet about the life.

Along the way we have said goodbye to Sophie the eighteen-year-old Tabby cat who shared our lives from that first sweet little house in Edwardsville to the grand old Victorian along the city streets of St Louis to this old restored farmhouse in the mountains of Vermont. We have said hello to new friends whose own lives and rhythms now help us define ours. We didn’t know Karen and Jack or Ellen and Roger when Benjamin began college. Now we have been to Italy with two of them and shared a business venture with the others. We have all experienced great pain and joy together and I can no longer imagine our lives without them in it. We said goodbye to our dear Eloise who helped us write this whole story. She was a guide for almost every part of it that is real and that lasts.

And much of it has all been written and told here on the pages of this blog. Sometimes I almost feel like a thing hasn’t happened if I don’t write about it here. It has been interactive too. I have relished the relationships and the kindness and support of folks who email and comment and make me think about my life in new and welcome ways.

The time has come now for me to take a break from this space. I have long wanted to pull together a book about this move and our decisions to live closer to the natural world. I have tracked the seasons and felt the power of the wind, the weight of the snow, and the sheer unadulterated joy when the leaves come back. We have lived our lives in ways that have brought us new pleasures and great satisfaction. I seldom know very far in advance what the next new passion will be and only recently have I known about a sadness long enough in advance to adjust and accommodate it into the mix. I think one of the great reasons to be alive is not knowing what might be just around the next corner. Italy might be in the future or so might a city spin. Our kids are talking a little bit about a California life. Maybe it will be time to give someone else the reins and follow their dreams to the beach or along side a west coast mountain. We don’t know what’s coming, but I want to take some real time this summer to write about what has already happened. I am grieving Eloise and want to do this book in her honor. Her life was short, but as meaningful to me as any other has ever been. In ten years we packed a whole lifetime and a bunch of adventure besides. From her I learned about patience and a calm steadiness born of practice and love. I want to take those gifts and put down our story in one long narrative. And for that I need space from these essays and from the urge to mark the quotidian experiences. I have experienced enough of Vermont to know what is coming and how to plan for winter. I know about ordering the hay in May so as to have plenty in January. Same for the wood and a stockpile of cash for the oil. I know to get ready in the sunshine and how to keep warm in the deepest winter. I think this is a story I can tell.

Thank you for coming by and for sharing your stories and your kindnesses with me. I may pop back in from time to time, but for now at least I want to give myself time and space to remember. I want to write about about this slow sweet country life and the transformation we found in this high sweet valley under these old mountains where the stories have a gentle rhythm and the music is as familiar as warm pie……


  • Library Lady

    Now what am I going to do for entertainment at work? Just hurry up and write your book so that I can buy it before the library throws me out! You can say you told me so–I got an email from Dan Wilson which said that the library would be crazy to fire me. He did like me after all.

  • Jennifer

    I know you will believe me when I say this is the first blog I have clicked to read in..oh..weeks and weeks. The first I’ve commented on a blog in probably longer than that. I think felt too much a voyeur to read and comment on other blogs when I haven’t been writing on my own… But what does it mean that I’ve clicked here, today, to read this?? Surely that we should stay in touch via email. I’ll miss your beautiful snapshots here but will so look forward to that book. Go you!!

  • Bia

    I knew . . . just knew that you were heading towards writing a book.

    Your observations, descriptions, thoughts, and humor are all too much for this tiny blog.

    Go. Write.

    I, for one, can’t wait to read your words.

  • starrlife

    Oh my…. I will surely miss your kind and thoughtful presence. The quiet, invisible losses of things that one never really had at all… I’m grateful for meeting you and getting to read your beautiful posts. I hope that you get all that you seek… and let me know when there is a book eh? Hugs and Love.

  • Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge

    I’m sad to see you’ll be going but envious too.

    Enjoy your time away and go craft yourself a masterpiece!

  • Jamie

    I so want you to write this book. I can’t wait to brag about you to all my friends.

    But I hope you’ll still be there…because over the last year or so, I have come to depend on you and to need your wisdom.

    Can’t wait to read your book.

  • Katiedid

    This is no fair.
    I have gotten all used to checking in here and snuggling in a with a cup of coffee whenever you have something new. I love these little glimpses of the country and your slower way. Your words are beautiful and you have brought us this lovely little world that we can stop by on our way to work.
    Simply no fair…have fun writing it though. Do it. Really really do it!
    Maybe just take the summer off????

  • Abigail Mae Hudson

    May I have your email address E? I want your real address too. I have something I want to send you.
    Also I am unwilling to give up this correspondence. May we continue it?

    Otherwise I will miss you very much. You are a writer and so of course you want to write something more. This rankles. Please do kindly send me your address

  • molls

    I miss you already.I just knew Eloise was going to have ramifications. I didn’t know though that they would affect me!

  • Anonymous

    Dear Mrs Paproth.
    I too have come to depend on your quiet slices of country life to soften my day. I envy you this great move and have read and re read the essays around the move itself. I hope your book tells us more about the decision and the events that surrounded it.
    I love the way you talk about Vermont and the ways the land have deepened your relationships to it and to each other. I will miss you very much
    Best of luck to you. I think you have a beautiful and wise way of looking at the world
    Kate Marks

  • Jessielynn

    Count me in. Please tell us from time to time how the book is going. I stop by here every morning at work and take a deep breath before jumping back into an old job that I dislike. I will miss you and your animals and John and the kids.
    Come back soon….

  • laurwilk

    Enjoy the new adventures! I will certainly miss this peaceful read each morning before I embark on a busy day in this wild city!

    I would like to keep in touch one way or another. Best of luck to you! Let me know if you ever end up in Iowa (or I suppose Minneapolis now too).

  • Dreams and Designs

    My heart is breaking. It sounds like a great decision on your part but I’ll miss your descriptive words, home town recipes and wisdom.

    PS- I feel a stint on the hearty great plains of this country would do your family good! (I know, I know, Iowa isn’t much different than St. Louis really!)

  • Mighty Morphin' Mama

    Oh! I am just so very thrilled with the prospect of reading your book. You are one of the most beautiful writers I know and I will miss you terribly. I hope you keep this up so that I can come and lose myself in your world. Please come by and say hi once in a while, your friendship has meant so much to me.
    oh and send me your email, would you please?!
    mightymorphinmama [at] gmail [dot] com

  • Kate

    I will miss your posts, and I understand. Sometimes I have to crawl inside of myself to grow again. But I will miss the “mom” feeling I get when I read your blog. It makes me feel safe.

  • Casdok

    Enjoy your break and writing. You have much to share and i love the way you express yourself.
    Take care x

  • painted maypole

    wow. good luck with the book. i hope to see you pop back in around here in future. it’s been a joy reading about your living dream in Vermont

  • Lisa

    Oh, gosh… Just as soon as I find you, you’re gone…. But, it’s for good reason. I’ll buy your book. Blessings on the new journey. (I’ll be watching to see if it does swerve back over here from time to time…)

  • starrlife

    Just thinking of you and Eloise and the whole wonderful family of yours. Hope you're staying dry!

  • starrlife

    I like to just visit and know that this is still here for now! Are you ready for the best part of the year?

  • starrlife

    Have a wonderful New Year!

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