Notes from Vermont, Westford & Beyond

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It was kind of like taking four mini-vacations -- from my aunt and uncle's place in Westford, Vermont, to Montreal, to my brother's wedding at Common Grounds Center in Starksboro, and finally, Sherbourne Farms, where we ended up on accident after meeting up with my cousins and then booking a room last minute. (We had planned to stay at a motel by the airport but realized it is far better to go out with a bang than a whimper. Sometimes you just have to do the amazing thing because it exists, you know?)

Anyway, over the next few days, I'll be sorting through some of the moments documented on our trip and posting them here.

First: Westford...
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I snapped this out the window of the rental car on our way from Burlington to Westford. The light was contradictory and the rain wasn't quite sure if it was invited to the party. Even with the kids (all of us) utterly exhausted from a day of intense travel/no sleep, their eyes still marveled at the blur of pasture... the red barns, horses, cows... so different from home. It was 100 degrees in Los Angeles when we left... dry as a bone, brown grass, brown skies, ash everywhere... and then, this. 
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"Everything is so green!"

"And yellow! There are dandelions everywhere, you guys! LOOK!" 

It was still light out when we arrived at my uncle's house and so, after being cooped up in various airplanes all day, the babes ran free. FREE!
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It had been twenty years since I'd been there, in Vermont, on what was once a working farm. (They no longer keep animals there. Well, besides their dog, Harpo, and several cats.)
photo 2 photo 3 Bo & Harpo Old Vermont pictures_0005 Old Vermont pictures_0002 with my brother, David, 1987. I was Fable's age, here. Old Vermont pictures_0003 And, again, in 1994

Returning to a place one hasn't seen in two decades is a little like shrinking a memory, only to wander back into it on stilts. I was twelve years old the last time I was on that porch, in that field, beside that pond...
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They had a different dog, then. They had sheep and cows and a baby lamb that had just been born days earlier... 
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There are pictures of us in photo albums running through the same field that Archer drove a tractor through with Uncle Art -- the same tractor I drove when I was just a few years older than Archer. My brother drove it, too...
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...And my sister, Rachel, who was Fable's age at the time.
Old Vermont pictures_0007 Rachel, 1994
photo 5 (20) Fable, 2014
Old Vermont pictures_0010 Me with my cousin Sam, 1994
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Next door, their were calves and their mamas. We were able to spend some time watching the cows roam around/chat with the nice people who owned and raised them for, well, beef...  (I learned quite a bit about beef cattle vs dairy cattle and how hard it is to humanely raise dairy cows because there is little money to be made as a dairy farmer and you need to invest in many animals. It is a lot easier for a family farm to raise beef cows... more lucrative, humane... )

The farmer got teary eyed when he told me about the male calves, one of which had just been born to one of his mama cows.
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"We don't name the boys," he explained. "Too painful."

I thought a lot about that--about the farmers who raise beef, dairy...what it means to be a male animal on a farm, a female... that everywhere in nature and life and... farms... our sex determines our fate - for better - for worse - forever.

If you're a boy, you will live to die. 

If you're a girl, you will live to breed. 

And yes, these are cows I'm talking about, but historically, this has been the story for humans, too. And although this concept is barbaric and antiquated, it's still our history. Sexism is everywhere. We're all cattle, you know? We've all been fucked in one way or another because of our gender...  We're all vulnerable to a system we're doing our best to rebuild. But before there was today, there was yesterday... it's easy to forget that, I think. Rebuilding takes time.
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Anyway... hi. Back to the cows...

And the humans...

And life on the other side of the electric fence. (Which was turned off when we were there.) 
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Bo had her hands over her ears much of the time because the mama cows were like, "BACK UP OFF ME, YO!" and those mamas moo LOUDLY.
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Amen, sister cow. 
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We watched the cows for a while and Fable drew them from the grass. She made a book of our trip that is thirty pages long. In her book are pictures of cows and dinners, of the sights we saw and my brother getting married, the airplane we flew in, the van we rented... the meals we ate and the dances we danced and it is the most extensive keepsake in the history of sakes to be kept.

Everywhere we went Fable brought her markers and paper, sat down in the grass and drew...
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I was like that with my journal. I was like that, here, with my journal. 

Twenty years... how could it be?
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My mom and me, 1987
photo 4 (29) Archer and Uncle Art
photo 1 Old Vermont pictures_0009 with my brother, David, 1994

The kids wanted to see snow because they have never been in snow before. Not REAL snow, anyway, so we set off on a mission to find some... 

We went to Stowe, marveled at the view from the Von Trapp house, found no snow. 
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We went to Smuggler's Notch, watched some guys climb rocks, hiked a little ways, rested in the sun as the kids played in the woods, found no snow. 
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Finally, at day's end, we followed my uncle's car up to the top of a mountain, and beneath the abandoned lift, on a Snowboarder's course, we found snow. 

"It's too cold," the kids said. 

"I'm all wet now!"

"Well? That's kind of the idea, you guys."


"Here, let's get a family photo, want to?"



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(In our entire trip, this and the life jacket picture are the only family photos we have of the six of us. Bummer town.)
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The one thing I could not get over about Vermont was the dandelions.  They were everywhere.  I had forgotten how freckled with yellow the northeast spring landscape is and I refused to shut up about it.

"The yellow! THE YELLOW!"

Fable picked a thousand dandelions over our Vermont/Montreal tenure and had them in her hair and in her hands the entire trip.
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photo 3 (38) (They all did.)
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I think, if I could pick one word to describe the time we spent in Vermont, it wouldn't be green, it would be yellow. The flowers and the weeds...
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The moments...
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The joy...
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The memories...
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Everything was yellow.
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To be continued...