Having just licked my fingers for the remainder of the butter that was on my english muffin… the same English muffin that I also frosted with sugar free jelly… I acknowledged to myself the ridiculousness of this. I like butter. I don’t want to eat plastic (margarine) or the supposed butter clones that are healthier, I want butter! I love butter! It’s sort of like going to a restaurant and having French fries, fried seafood and a diet pepsi.
As a kid in grade school my best friend’s parents owned a dairy farm. We would frequently visit the area where the vats of fresh milk were and skim the top of the milk, thus whipped cream. It was better than ice cream. I’m sure now the Department of Agriculture would frown on this, or worse yet, fine you.
Why am I sharing these mundane details of my day? Well, yesterday, on my way home from running errands I was totally aware of and enjoying my surroundings. I love going by the farms, we have such a beautiful working farm here, generations of family owned “The Miller Farm” that I admire every time I pass. They used to put vegetables out for sale and a tin can for you to pay for them. With my hands firmly on the steering wheel, sitting up straight, I existed and were “in the moment”. I love the country. The authenticity test of loving country life is a smile at the smell of manure (well, I admit, sometimes it’s enough to make me gag). The smell of freshly mown hay, grass, the sighting of farm animals, wildlife, nature, running brooks, dirt roads, chimneys bellowing smoke lending warmth to it’s creator, wood piles, well they are not only a daily sighting in my life, some a staple in it. I feel secure within the mountains and I love the energy they emit. I am a country girl and I love Vermont.
I have spent time in cities, 30 other states. I appreciate and seen many different ways of life, culture of others. I feel the busy energy as I am first driving into Boston, New York City and the many others cities I have visited. The fast pace hustle and bustle holds within it evidence for all five senses, smell being my least favorite. I have been gifted with a trip to Newfoundland, Canada, a cruise in the Caribbean. I visited the Myan Ruins in Tulum Mexico, stayed at a 5 star resort and zip lined over a jungle in Mexico. I have climbed Diamond Head crater on Oahu, Hawaii, and while I am not what you would call a world traveler, I am grateful for where I have been, what I have been privileged to see. Still, within the scope of all of these beautiful places, upon my return, when I start to see the mountains, signs of country, rural living, I smile, I am home. I am a country girl and I love Vermont.
My surroundings are breathtaking and the seasons bring more than a temperature change, With it comes many chores. I am no stranger to shoveling or raking snow off from my roofs, chipping ice, sanding and salting my driveway, my walkways, throwing wood into the pickup, throwing it out, stacking it and gathering kindling, starting a fire. I am no stranger to the hazards of driving on what others may consider primitive style roads. I own a lawn mower, a wheel barrel, this contraption that they call a “snake” to help unclog drains, pipelines. I drive a jeep, and truly enjoy venturing into the woods with my furries in the back seat. The quiet, the beauty, the sights all breathe joy into my lungs. I have reluctantly participated in the cleaning of chickens that my father and sister just slaughtered and plucked, fed livestock and more. I drive 40 minutes or so to the nearest mall, and 15 or 20 minutes to the closest grocery store or bank. I grew up in and live in a town which have no street or traffic lights, that have volunteer firemen. A flashlight is one of the survivor tools of the trade, particularly on a midnight run to the outhouse! I own and operate a saws, hammers, screw drivers and my favorite, a wrecking bar. My tools that may surprise you. I have fished for dinner and brought home pizza, have camped in the wilderness in just a sleeping bag underneath the stars and skinny dipped in ponds and lakes at dusk. I have tiled floors, wall papered and painted walls, sanded floors, dug out walkways and laid 20″ heavy blocks. I know what it’s like to live in the country, to be self sufficient. I also know what it’s like to be so fed up with Winter that I swore I would never live through another winter in New England. Just when we’re all about to jump ship, put a “For Sale” sign on my house, just when we’re climbing the walls and suffocating in cabin fever, spring will show welcomed signs of its arrival, of rebirth and the changed attitude “I can do this, I can do this”. As soon as the weather is warm enough to go outside in just a sweatshirt (well, jeans too!) the memories of the harshness of the past winter fade away and are replaced with the awe of the new season. Our backs may heal from the shoveling but are once again tested with rakes, hoes, and again shovels if gardening. I have grown vegetables and eaten cucumbers and tomatoes right off the vine and delighted in fresh eggs that bring with them the most beautiful color of yellow you can imagine, and the tastiest of eggs. I have eaten venison, sugared off (making maple syrup) with family, with friends and enjoyed what we New Englander’s call “Sugar on Snow”. Yes, I know what it’s like to do physical work, to maintain my home, my land to the best of my ability through the trials and tribulations of all four seasons, living, surviving independently and reveled in the benefits, the outcome of all. Yes, I am a country girl and I love Vermont.
I have owned rabbits and chickens, dogs and cats, ridden horses, ponies and a mule. I have climbed trees, rode a toboggan down a steep hill, skied the prettiest of mountains, skated on frozen ponds and once fell partially into freezing water and was thankfully rescued. I’ve cooked marshmallows and hot dogs on a stick that I cut in the woods and dined in exclusive restaurants atop five star hotels. I have learned, through experience, that I am allergic to bees. I have been bit by dogs, nipped by horses, been stuck in the mud, the snow, and have walked out of a boot barefoot, from the boot being sucked into the mud with such grip that I was unable to pull it out. I’ve walked on railroad tracks, walked in the rain and been on a lake in an aluminum boat when a thunderstorm has rolled in. I’ve picked apples and pears, strawberries, peas, clipped pussy willows and rhubarb, made the prettiest of wreaths and florals from materials hunted in the woods or my own yard. Yes, I am a country girl and I love Vermont.
When I take the time to sit back, to review, and in this case write about so many things I’ve done, my cheeks pucker upward, a smile comes to my face, I have been blessed. I am blessed. Yes, I am a country girl and I love Vermont.
As my joints grow painful, my back amiss, and the cost of living rises, I am not sure that this is where I will always live. I sometimes long for an easier life, a house on a lake equipped with a rocking horse on the porch and a partner carrying in the wood to start a fire in the stone fireplace. I sometimes long to have less responsibility, to be able to go back to the archaic “women’s work” and let someone else to the labor. I sometimes long to trade in my wool lined barn coat for a long cashmere coat, my sorrels for fashion boots, and my hats and gloves for regular, more frequent manicures and pedicures. I sometimes want to bolt from the challenges that comes with living in the country, and trade my house in for a condo. I sometimes want to live where I never have to do these chores again. But you know what? I will always own cowboy boots, I will always hold dear, of my upbringing and years living in New England, in Vermont. Don’t get me wrong, however and visual me being a hick from the country who picks my teeth at the dinner table. I can dress to the nines and hold my own while socializing, and have many times, shocked others when they find out I am a Vermonter. Not sure what the Vermont stereotype is, but I assure you, while we do have “country folk” who talk with a back hills drawl, many of us are or can be sophisticated, abiding proper dress and etiquette when necessary. When all is said and done, when I climb into bed and pull the covers up to my neck, I smile, I thank God for the life I have known, living in rural New England. I am a country girl, and I love Vermont. I so love Vermont! ♥♥♥