This week. Oooohhh, this week. It's been heaven here in Vermont. We (Dan, baby and I, Mom and Dad) traveled up here on Sunday, just as the leaves are beginning to change color, and taking the time to get away from everything and immerse myself in nature is just what the doctor ordered.
We spent the first day driving around Jefferson, Vermont after seeing the resort overview of what there was to do. We got groceries at one of the local general stores, including some local cheese and sausage. We popped into a farm store and picked up some tasty bagels loaded with all sorts of toppings, and I bought a bunch more hippie magnets for my car (because obviously I do not have enough yet). Back at the resort, we enjoyed toasted bagels with melted cheese and cold cuts, read, relaxed and passed out for a bit before heading to dinner.
On Tuesday, we visited Stowe for a visit to the Trapp Family Lodge (the von Trapp family of Sound fo Music fame) to take in the views and see old photos of the Trapp Family. Maria's granddaughter was even there signing copies of a little book of recorder music she had made, and Mom bought a copy and had her sign it. She says she wants to get back into playing the recorder which might be cool since I could accompany on the bodrhan. At the Lodge, we enjoyed some Austrian-style sausages (Mom and I shared while Dad and Dan ate some of the best pastrami sandwiches either had ever tasted). The guys enjoyed home-brewed lagers, and all the meat was raised on the farm there. We toured the gardens together, during which time I plucked up some indigo seeds and pretty pink runner beans in green pods to save for seeds. Afterwards, while Devon napped in the car, Dan and I visited Ben and Jerry's and I had SUCH a good milk shake- triple caramel chunk with extra caramel sauce. Ooooohhh, deliciousness!!!
Dan and I have gotten in some good games (Hero Brigade, a card game from our friend Scott Drake), I've gotten to plow further through my book (The Fiery Cross, book 5 of the Outlander series), and this morning, I walked around ALONE. No husband, no baby, no parents. I found a couple choice boulders that were sitting snug together just like a couch and made myself comfortable. I breathed deep, staring up into the leaf-framed blue sky, and let me mind un-tense for a bit. Then I picked my sketchbook and pencil out of my satchel and continued working on some sketches I started up here.
Of course, coming to Vermont, one finds oneself in foodie heaven with organic-and local-everything on most of the menus. The first night we got here, we relaxed while enjoying some of mom's mushroom-and-sherry cream soup with come crescent rolls, and hit the hay after a long day in the car. The next night, we indulged at the Hearth and Candle- one of the higher-end restaurants on the resort campus. We practically licked the cutting board clean on a sampling of six Vermont cheeses, apple chutney, apple slices and roasted garlic. Mom, Dad and Dan enjoyed a prime rib dinner while I enjoyed a veggie pot pie with all local organic veggies.
Today, Dan and I got a day pass for the resort and went on a mushrooming hike, picking up quite a few tasty samples, and I even added quite a bit of knowledge to what I already know about mushrooming in New England. At home after the hike, I sauteed up a couple small puffballs, little bites of oyster mushrooms, some ash suillus, and some lion's mane. They were all quite tasty, aside from the lion's mane which, to be fair, was quite past it's "sell-by date". The guide (a French man named Silvio who, being from France, knew mushrooming as an old tradition) had just said they were so tasty, and I was very curious! After that hike, we took a little breather until Devon woke from his nap.
Then we met up with another group and headed for a tour of a local organic farm. The farmers were really cool- a young couple our age, with a daughter Devon's age. I took further notes on tips from the farmers on some tricky crops, and learned some new techniques to try out in my garden back home. Devon got to pluck up "Easter egg radishes" (bright purple!), as well as yellow carrots, purple peppers and bright red potatoes! I snagged a few samples to save for seeds, and then the farmers treated us all to some delicious butternut squash bisque with tasty buttermilk biscuits. They also gave me a few heads of garlic to plant at home and I told them I'd connect with them on Facebook and tell them anything they wanted to know about beekeeping.
Back at the resort, Dan and I headed straight out for our last class- a maple sugaring walk. We got to learn about the old techniques for sugaring (which I was familiar with), as well as see the new techniques in play (a piping system which uses either gravity or a vacuum system to draw out the sap from up to thousands of trees to a few central tank locations!) We learned how to identify various maples, and then we all got to sample some dark grade A syrup and take home little jars of some medium amber syrup.
We met up with mom and dad and went to a local farmers and artisan market where we didn't buy much, but enjoyed browsing and hearing some live music. We returned home for dinner since we knew we had food in the fridge we needed to eat up. Dan and I enjoyed a nice soak in the jacuzzi tub while Mom and Dad put Devon down for bed. And now, after perhaps a couple more chapters of my book, I'll head to bed with my boys.
The next day, Dan and I headed out to a local winery for a wine tasting, sipping the local flavors of fruit wine, dessert wines, local cider, creme liquers and the very pricey ice wines. We left with a bottle of the maple creme liquer and a bottle of the maple ice wine cordial. Back on campus, we grabbed a quick lunch and then reunited with our group for a class on pestos, oils and vinegars, followed by a class on cordials, elixirs and bitters. We each made a custom oil and vinegar while snacking on fresh pesto and pretzel chips. Then we each crafted two liquers each and a small batch of bitters. It was so interesting to learn about the herbs, the history of the different fluids, and the recipes. And I certainly didnt mind getting to sample various liquers that our herbalist teacher had created!
Friday was pretty uneventful- a light walk to see a waterfall and take pictures, home for a rest, and then dinner at the Morse Mountain Grille. It's unbelievable how tired we all up here, even on days when we do hardly anything. I think it must have to do with the fresh air, the relaxing atmosphere, and the FREEDOM to rest and relax as long as we want. Even Devon has been going straight to bed, exhausted despite liesurely, long naps.
Today is Saturday, our last day here. Another day of primarily resting, reading, and light walking. We went to Cold Hollow Cider Mill, the Cabot Creamery Annex Store, and got dinner at a local restaurant. The chorus from "I Don't Wanna Go Home" by Great Big Sea keeps playing on loop in my head. There's a great mourning inside me to leave this idyllic week behind.
Of course, there's not much to really complain about- I am so happy with my life that it's really not TOO hard to return to it. This vacation spelled it out pretty clearly to me. The things I loved doing up here are mostly things that I have incorporated into my regular life back home- farm-to-table food, foraging walks in the woods, the goals of living a more sustainable lifestyle, honoring the history and natural world around me. So often when I go on vacation, I constantly feel a nagging bit of jealousy- that I wish I could live this lifestyle forever, that I wish the timeshare we stay in was my home, or that I had the job of the program directors on the resort. But this time I didn't feel that. I simply felt at peace. I felt at home, surrounded by similar nature-loving, artsy souls, by recycling rooms and compost systems. While I certainly wish there were more like-minded souls back home, they are still there if I am willing to look. We have recycling systems and compost systems, community farms, organic initiatives, hiking trails, art societies and the like.
The other thing I've really cherished has been simple down time with my family. My parents are getting older, and so time with them is very precious. I keep feeling very badly that my sister and her family were not with us. This is such precious time that, once passed, cannot be re-made. I cherished the days spent with my little boy and his father- all of us holding hands, or hiking with our own walking sticks- even a little one for Devon. And of course, these special things are also there for me at home, if I can take the time to slow down and appreciate them. I'm grateful that I don't have to leave town for a week to be with my parents, or to see my husband or son. There are certainly sacrifices that have been made to have all of these things come together, but weeks like this week really illustrate how worth it those sacrifices have been.