Category Archives: Thoughts on Life

Missing Santa Claus

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Our family missed Santa Claus this year.

Ever since we moved to Vermont seven years ago, our family has attended the “Very Merry Middlebury” festivities in downtown Middlebury on the first Saturday of December. This annual celebration, designed to welcome the winter holiday season, includes a hot chocolate hut, horse-drawn carriage rides, a scavenger hunt for themed ornaments in Main Street’s shop windows, and various craft fairs. The Sheldon Museum’s spectacular model train diorama is open to the public, as are the impressive entries in the Vermont Folklife Center’s gingerbread creation contest. Inspired children can make (and eat) their own graham cracker “gingerbread” houses at Ilsley Public Library.

Santa Claus himself begins the day, riding into Middlebury atop a town fire engine.

We look forward to the Very Merry Middlebury tradition every year. But this year, there was some consternation among the adults in our family when we noticed that the schedule listed Santa’s arrival at 9:15 AM.

Click here to continue reading this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent.

For the Boy Next Door

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Girls like swords, too!

When we moved into our current house, we moved next door to a boy. He’s an only child, and we share part of our long driveway with him and his mother.

The boy next door, whom I’ll call Theo, was nine years old at the time – a year older than my eldest daughter. The first time we met Theo was the day we took possession of our house: He and his mother joined us for pizza on our lawn, since we had no furniture in the house. My girls were so loud, and there were so many of them; I was certain that they’d overwhelm Theo. On top of that, my oldest daughters had recently picked up the sort of “girls rule, boys drool,” attitude that seems to predominate early elementary school culture.

In short: I couldn’t imagine much of a future for Theo and my daughters.

Click here to continue reading my latest “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent.

Curiouser and Curiouser

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“The flags are lowered again! What happened this time, Mama?”

I was driving three of my daughters along Route 7, down to Brandon for a rehearsal of their homeschool production of Alice in Wonderland.

The last time I’d attempted to frame tragedy in age-appropriate terms had been only a month before, when area businesses flew their flags at half-mast to mourn the deaths of 59 people after a mass shooting in Las Vegas. This time around, we were mourning the shooting deaths of 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

I took a deep breath, and tried to arrange my words.

***

Lately I’ve been interested in how nature seems to be mirroring the prevailing mood in this country. Or is it the opposite: Is the prevailing national mood a reaction, at least in part, to natural events? Further: Am I overgeneralizing when I write of a “prevailing national mood?” Is it most accurate to state that nature seems to mirror my mood, or the moods of myself and my nearest friends?

You see how written expression can become complicated.

Click here to continue reading my latest attempt at written expression in this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent. 

I Feel Sad About Target

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It’s not often that Vermont makes the national news, but on October 19, Vermont leaped to the top of my NPR news feed with the headline: “After 55 Years, Target Will Finally Open a Store in Vermont.”

It may shock out-of-state readers to learn that Target, the retail giant with over 1,800 stores across the nation, lacked a Vermont location before now. But it’s true: When my eight-year-old daughter heard me relaying the news to my husband, she asked, “What’s Target?”

(My eldest daughter reminded her: “Remember? It’s that store in California that has special escalators for your shopping carts.” This is true of the Target store nearest our old home in Berkeley, California, but the shopping cart escalators will likely be absent from the Vermont Target, which, at 60,000 square feet, is considered a “small” Target.)

A Target opening elsewhere would hardly be newsworthy, but Vermont’s capitulation makes it the 50th state to welcome Target. Until now, Vermont’s been the lone holdout, but no longer.

To learn why I’m not doing a victory dance over Target, click here to read my latest “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent.

Apples, Fall, and the Future

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 My husband arrived home one evening during the first week in September after a stop at the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op. He raised his arm in triumph, clutching the handle of a small brown paper bag filled with Macintosh apples and bearing the stamp of Shoreham’s Champlain Orchards.

“Vermont apples are back!” he announced joyfully.

Click here to continue reading this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent. 

The Chick Stays in the Picture

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Apology in advance: This is another column about poultry.

I promise that “Faith in Vermont” will not begin focusing entirely on chickens and ducks. Still, the truth is that I’m learning a great deal about life, love, death, and motherhood from the silly, smelly, feathered fowl who share our land.

In my last column, I wrote about losing two of our chickens to a fox. A couple of weeks later, in what seemed like poetic justice, one of our broody hens hatched out a new chick.

Click here to continue reading this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent. 

Through My Children’s Eyes

At the beginning of the summer, our entire family attended my 20th college reunion.

I’m not a reunion person; I spent my first 15 years of adulthood moving frequently enough to rid me of whatever nostalgia I might be tempted to nurture – which I suspect wasn’t much to begin with. But this was my 20th reunion, it was only about two hours away, friends exerted pressure, and my daughters had begun expressing interest in my alma mater. So, late one spring evening, I found myself registering online for my reunion, paying an exorbitant amount to house six people on three dorm-room beds.

My alma mater is Williams College, a small liberal arts school nestled among the Berkshire Mountains in the northwestern corner of Massachusetts, just over the Vermont border from Bennington. It bears a striking similarity in both size and location to Middlebury College, which explains one particular moment from the reunion weekend.

One of the highlights of the reunion was not only the chance to reconnect with old friends, but observing our children become friends as well – as if to confirm that we’d chosen our cronies well two decades prior. On the final evening of reunion weekend, as our children romped together on the green grass of a quad surrounded by pillared academic buildings and, beyond them, the rolling slopes of the Berkshires, my friends waxed nostalgic about the setting.

Isn’t it wonderful, they said, to come to a place where our children can just run free and we don’t have to worry about them? And: Look at that view! Isn’t it just beautiful here?

 Click here to continue reading my latest “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent.