Posts Tagged With: Vermont

Old Vermont Musings

Sometimes I forget that I do this, but I often write little snippets of essays that aren’t really for anything.  Then I save them on my computer and forget they exist.  I went through a pile of them yesterday (if computer files can be a pile) and I found a bunch of things I really like, such as this one.   My cousin Courtney got married last year and Brian and I spent several days in Vermont.  This is what I wrote the morning of our first day there:

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We are in Vermont now, and it is so beautiful.  It is like everything I remembered from my childhood in Maine, only more so.   If it were feasible for me to move in immediately, I would do it.  The plane ride from New York was especially gorgeous.  I looked out the window, half hoping to see the green tarnish of the statue of liberty out the little plastic oval.  I didn’t.  Instead, I saw a long beach stretching as far as the eye could see, tan and slim.  Breakers beat at its shore, even from so high up as we were.  The tan length of it disappeared in a haze at the curve of the earth, peopled by fluffy clouds over our silver wings.  The clouds took over the view, collecting one by one until they obscured everything, and then separating apart to reveal the deep green underneath.  We soared over farmhouses like tiny train models in the middle of lush forests and hundreds of pools of water.  A wide blue river wound to the north.

It was better once we landed.  As soon as we left the airport, I smelled it.  Green; the kind of thing that is grass clippings and clover and the hidden sweetness of running across the lawn barefoot in the summer time.  Beside the airport were the kind of houses I remember in my childhood, their muddy white clapboards rising from thick bushes as if they grew and solidified in the scrubby lawn.  This is the kind of house Uncle Earl had, when we ate blackberries from the thicket in front of his house.  He fed us blackberry pie for dinner and taught us about chickadees, the state bird of Maine.  This is the kind of house Grampy had, with the bed in the guest room not quite a double and more than a twin.  They forgot one night when we came to stay that it wasn’t a regular double, and my husband and I spent a night under the white tufted coverlet trying not to elbow each other onto the floor, too polite to remind them.

We arrived at cousin Courtney’s to enthusiastic hugs and watched the humid day slip away on her back porch.  I listened to Uncle Dave tell jokes, throwing his head back to laugh, and thought how much he reminded me of my mother, raking his fingers through his hair.   And then the patter of warm rain fell around us on the screen porch.  And then we went to bed.

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Things I Learned This Week:

Canadian border patrol agents are friendly, funny and make you excited to go into the country.  American border patrol agents do not.

Foreign countries are foreign, even when they look and feel the same at first.    

They don’t stamp your passport when you go to Canada, they just look at it.

Brian and I need to move east.  Maybe.  If we can handle the weather. Maybe. 

Cousins who used to be just kids grow up to be some pretty amazing people.  It’s pretty great when you realize you’d voluntarily be friends even without the family connection.     

I’m maybe more of a feminist than I thought, and I might be ready to declare it to the world.

There is no one I’d rather be trapped with on the never ending layover from hell than Brian and his scruffy face.

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Of Passports of All Kinds

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It may sound strange, but I am 31 years old and I have never had a passport before.  My first one came in the mail last night.  It looks remarkably like my National Park passport.  It is also dark blue in color, with shinny, foiled lettering.  Inside are also a bunch of blank pages for stamps.  This is where the similarities end.

In my National Park Passport, the pages are separated by region in rainbow hues, and there are colored squares to paste the special postage stamps they sell at each park.  You stamp your own passport with ink stamps they provide at each location.  My book has three separate stamps from Yellowstone alone – one for Old Faithful, one for Mammoth Hot Springs, and the last from Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  Be sure the date is correct.  The stamps are often located in stores where kids rotate the dates for fun.  My grandfather had a National Park Passport, and my mother has one.  It seems like such a silly thing, so silly that I almost didn’t buy one, but I am filled with glee when I get to choose my postage stamp and press the ink into the page.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe that I’m 31 at all.

I went to the Orange post office to turn in my paperwork for my real passport.  It is a tan colored building all made out of brick, with rough arches stretching above the doors.  There was a special line for Passports, and I had to take an oath that all my information was correct, right hand raised, staring at the postal worker with his right hand raised.

“I didn’t know you had to take an oath,” I said.

“Yup,” he replied as he stapled my paperwork together.

“They’re not messing around!” I said.  “It’s kinda fun!”

“They are definitely not messing around,” he said.

My actual United States Passport has a spread in the front where a very bad picture of me lies in a network of red and blue anti-fraud lines. Important information is listed about me.  Mostly blank pages follow, but they are also decorated with line drawings.  Ships with sails spread wide cut through the inky sea, a lighthouse in the distance.  Two men on horseback walk with a herd of longhorn cattle on a flat plane.  The head of a bald eagle looks at a scene where buffalo graze in front of snowy mountains.  A circular satellite, its metal arms flung wide, peaks over the round hulk of a planet.  “Let’s go there,” said Brian, pointing to the satellite.  It seemed possible, with that book to permit me.

I can’t imagine I get to stamp my own real passport.  I’ve been to both Mexico and Canada, but this was pre-9/11 when Americans could cross border lines freely.  I’ve never sat in a customs line, explained the contents of my luggage, or received a stamp of any kind.  A cousin of mine is getting married in a few weeks, and her house is just an hour from Montreal.  We’re planning a family caravan, so I will soon be a world traveler who knows these kinds of things.

Mostly what I can’t wait for is sharing a too-full house with relatives I don’t see enough.  I have fourteen cousins on my mother’s side alone, and we all used to spend summers together running across the sand in front of my grandfather’s beach house. An event when we’re all present is miraculous.  I’m excited to see my cousin walk down an aisle in white.  I can’t wait to explore Vermont as an adult, when I’ll remember it.  Getting my first stamp on my very first passport will be only part of the good things I’m hoping for that weekend.  Still, I do hope my first stamp is a nice one.

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