We suddenly noticed something very different about the look of the land at exactly the moment we realized we had entered the state of Vermont. The water, the sky, the trees – everything we could see so saturated, lush and verdant, green and green. My little camera’s lens can’t begin to capture – hopefully the video will do a better job…It was like we had just crossed into a parallel plane where humans had nurtured the land instead of spoiled it. There wasn’t a billboard to be seen. Billboards are no more allowed in Vermont as residents feel that they burden the soul. It is such a relief to see, lining the road, only trees and small signs that say Here we are. rather than HERE WE ARE FAST GET OFF NOW AND DON’T MISS US YOU NEED WHAT WE’VE GOT WE ARE HUGELY IMPORTANT WE’RE SELLING COME BUY WE ARE NEAR!!!
And when we pulled up to our host’s little cabin in Chester, VT, we were welcomed with wet dog kisses and fantastic food and forthright conversation. Jerome filled us in on the passing of Bush’s executive order July 17th. And we shuddered to think of the phones they’ve been tapping to give Bush a reason to freeze someone’s assets without any notice or word. Or trial or hearing or lawyer or hope. And climate change seemed not the worst of our worries.
We slept without dreaming and woke to Jerome making pancakes and eggs. He told us to head to the Moondog Cafe and he left for NY with the dogs. (Bye Jerome! and thank you!)
We found the organic oasis, and stayed there all day, for muffins for coffee for lunch…for blogging and emails and editing, for catching up with the world and for dinner. Ben worked on the Barnegat Bay pod all night for his 4th all-night edit in as many weeks. I worried all night over how he was faring and several times got up, and wrapped on my skirt, blinking my way to the kitchen to see if he’d run out of water or needed a bite, or if it was time for a new pair of eyes to review what he’d pasted and cut so far. I made him take out the music from underneath Willie deCamp cause it made me laugh but wasn‘t supposed to be funny…
And morning came, and Ben saw it was good and he rested. Mark and I went back to the Moondog to work while he slept for awhile. We chatted with Steve, the owner, who also runs an Eco landscaping business and believes in the power of healing herbs. He gave us some crazy mushroom tea to fight off any nasties we might have picked up. Steve had had Lyme disease twice. We went back for Ben and then hurried to pack but were stopped in our tracks when we noticed that Jerome’s whole backyard was surrounded by blackberry bushes, with some berries ripe for the picking!! So, we ate off the vine for breakfast.
And then, as luck would have it, we ate off the vine for dinner as well. We missed Brattleboro (and will have to go back there someday) but we stumbled on something tremendous in a little town called Heartland – the Sustainability Institute, founded by Donella Meadows and kept alive by a community of people, like Daniella Malin, who showed us around the farm and Phil Rice and Beth Sawin, who opened up their home and hearth to us for the most amazing supper thus far. We learned how to prune apple trees (theoretically), and that it can take up to 4 yrs for apple trees to fruit. We walked by the milking barn and past the little calves in their pens, to the chicken houses where we learned how to best a rooster who is fronting you, and which hens lay brown eggs and which white or even green!
Cobb Hill is the name of the intentional community that lives on the hill beyond the Institute and is comprised of all kinds of people from all walks of life. Even intentional communities have to deal with inner social strife sometimes, said Danielle, and then it’s the tension that is not sustainable. But they seem to work it out.
One of the residents of the community, Jeem, took us inside his house to get a better look at the inner workings of the housing development, including the composting toilets, which was super cool (and didn’t smell stinky at all!)
After several hours, we were starting to fade and so began walking back to the car saying how much we enjoyed the place and remarking how it seemed almost unreal in it’s simplicity and beauty- cows in the pasture and sheep in the meadow, chickens in the coop and vegetables in the gardens, bees in their hives, and children playing where they will, happily, exploring, no idea of heavier cares or cruel goings on in the world…So when Phil said if we were hungry to join them for supper, but no cameras please, how could we say no? Thrilled, we sat at a picnic table in their backyard garden and watched while their daughter, Jenna, trotted through, picked a cucumber off of the vine and chomped into it just like an apple. Phil’s homemade bread came fresh out of the oven and straight to the table, and neighbor, Matt, from West Virginia, sauntered over with his easy twang and his plate of “day-early” tomatoes. (amazing) Squash, pickles, bulgar wheat and berries, sweet corn and some crazy good cheese made right there on Cobb Hill by Matt’s wife, from 12 or so cows. We ate till our bellies were tight as drums and laughed until they were tighter. Then, when we sure that the day couldn’t get any better, Phil took us to where the maple syrup was stored and sold us the very last bottle of Grade B on the shelf. Which we are saving for a sitdown.
And I can’t wait. Tomorrow: more of the bounty that is Vermont.