Variations on Vermont

Variations on Vermont

On the day of the advisory board meeting,

I walk into the Norwich Inn

mid-day, mid-week, mid-January

Portraits of once- important men adorn the walls

Once-important men fill the tables of the restaurant,

with their fine hats,

their fine coats,

their fine wives,

their fine compatriots

White-haired, well-bred

Out for lunch on a winter day.

 

“It’s different world I return to in Barre

where struggling young parents scream at each other

outside the school doors,

arriving  in fleece pajamas

to pick up their kids

Making ends meet is a major struggle

School is the place of consistency

with free meals and

caring adults committed to helping each child

be and become

the important person

he or she is

 

Vermont is a varied place, to be sure.

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The Ubiquitous Show

The Show

 

A multi-generation gathering, at least in my experience, almost always morphs into some kind of show by the children.  Last night, at my niece Tasa’s 8th birthday party with family, we were treated to a talent show.  Uncle Mike did “aggressive walking”, Chris was the lights man, Xavier created a song on the paino, Pi exhibited nunchuck dexterity, and Aga and Tasa entertained us with magic tricks. The adults in the audience gathered round, happy to suspend their grown-up conversation for some live entertainment.  

My kids and their like-aged cousins did shows every time we had a picnic in the meadow in the Adirondacks. In fact, often, the whole week would have  a theme of preparing for the show, and they would sneak off to rooms or the edge of the woods to rehearse, keeping it all a big secret until the performance.  More often than not, the girls would have prepared some elaborate dance or gymnastics routine, and right in the middle, the boys would come out of nowhere, doing silly antics to steal the show.

And  I remember doing the same thing as a child with my siblings and cousins. The parents would be busy with whatever parents are doing–putting  a meal out, laughing too loud, sitting around the table when the meal was complete. We, meanwhile, would create our own world, usually resulting in a show–more often plays, I think I remember, but definitely something that had a performance, brought the grown-ups into our world, and pulled everyone together.

I know I did not teach my kids this–it simply emerged.  And yet it feels time-honored and wholesome and puts the perfect icing on the cake of a family gathering–togetherness, appreciation for individuality, and hearing the voices of the youngest.  I look forward to many many more shows to come.

Tobogganing at Chestnut Ridge

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1L9oZFSRLJTBCMT8RwVAqyod3FLSGXylycLhXLXIws44/edit

Tobogganing at Chestnut Ridge

Winter in Buffalo

Sunday afternoons

Family outing to Chestnut Ridge

Long toboggan

Family of 6

in pull-on snow pants,

a puffy snow suit

Red rubber boots with a buckle on the side

Two pairs of socks

a scarf wrapped around my neck

Bundled up against the frigid winter winds

so I can barely move.

 

 

We climb the long steep steps

Waiting, waiting, creeping slowly up the stairs,

jumping up and down to keep warm,

until we get to the top,

and finally we are there.

I look down at all the people so far below us.

It is our turn.

 

A quick bustle to get everyone into the toboggan

Dad at the back, then Mom, Ellen, David, me,

and in the very front little Debby

Each holds onto the family member in front,

hanging onto them for dear life,

and we are off.

 

Down the chute, whipped onto the snow

flying down the hill

which seemed endless

screaming all the way,

until we either fell into a heaping mass of bodies

or slowly came to a stop

laughing, rolling off,

and headed back up the hill to do it again.

 

Winter in Buffalo

Sunday afternoons

Family outing to Chestnut Ridge

Long toboggan

Family of 6

in pull-on snow pants,

a puffy snow suit

Red rubber boots with a buckle on the side

Two pairs of socks

a scarf wrapped around my neck

Bundled up against the frigid winter winds

so I can barely move.

 

We climb the long steep steps

Waiting, waiting, creeping slowly up the stairs,

jumping up and down to keep warm,

until we get to the top,

and finally we are there.

I look down at all the people so far below us.

It is our turn.

 

A quick bustle to get everyone into the toboggan

Dad at the back, then Mom, Ellen, David, me,

and in the very front little Debby

Each holds onto the family member in front,

hanging onto them for dear life,

and we are off.

 

Down the chute, whipped onto the snow

flying down the hill

which seemed endless

screaming all the way,

until we either fell into a heaping mass of bodies

or slowly came to a stop

laughing, rolling off,

and headed back up the hill to do it again.

 

Joining the 21st Century

Ok, so I have avoided Facebook all this time, I completely ignore my Linked-In account that I don’t even know how to get onto any more, I ignore all the connection requests that go along with that and feel guilty about it every time I delete one. I am not afraid of technology, and I am always learning new things I can do with it, but I do have a resistance to having more things I need to do or check on the computer, as I feel like I am on it too much already.

On the other hand, I do love to write, and always wish I wrote more.  So the writing challenge that is part of the course I am co-teaching with  my colleague Lindy and Beth Moore who worked for years for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project is a call for me to get a blog going–something most other people who do what I do have had up and running for years.

 

So here I go…..