Faith in Vermont

02/11/2020
After a fairly lackluster winter, we had our first big snowstorm yesterday. Today, the world beyond my windows is gorgeous. Because the snow was preceded by ice, the tree branches bend low and glitter in the sunlight as if they’re encased in glass. Temperatures have yet to rise above freezing, so the snow still lies heavy on the evergreens. I’m unsure of the total accumulation – I’d estimate somewhere between 8 to 12 inches – but the fields are blanketed white, and the remaining hay bales in our neighbor’s field look like marshmallows tipped on their sides. The sun came out today, in a bright...
01/28/2020
Our children had some friends over this past weekend, and they decided to embark on an outdoor adventure. The negotiations, as I overheard them, went something like this: “Let’s pretend we’re on the Oregon Trail!” “YES!” “And also, some of us could be runaway slaves.” "Okay, that works; that was around the same time.” “I’ll be the Quaker person helping the slaves escape.” “And also, we’re orphans….” If they hadn’t been so insistent on historical accuracy, I’m pretty sure they would’ve added a couple of Jews fleeing the Nazis for good measure — they’ve played that before. (Jewish orphans, of...
01/14/2020
One thing I’ve learned over the past few weeks is that we are able to endure a great deal more than we believe is possible. Life is not a benevolent tutor, handing down lessons one at a time in order of increasing difficulty; instead, life often feels like an opponent in a boxing match landing a punch in your ribs and then throwing a jab to your eye while you’re still catching your breath. The remarkable thing is how many of us remain in the ring. We may be hanging on the ropes, bruised and battered, but we don’t go down. This is why, when I found the mangled carcasses of two of our chickens...
12/31/2019
I have never been a big New Year’s person. As an introvert, I’d rather be curled up at home in pajamas with a book than at a late-night party. The transition from one calendar year to the next doesn’t excite me much, and resolutions have always struck me as futile attempts to delude ourselves that a new year will bring automatic personal renewal. But this year, as 2019 becomes 2020, I’m doing something I’ve never done before: I’m choosing a word to focus on for the new year. The word is THRIVE. My word for the new year is a rebellion against the diagnosis handed down to our infant son, but it...
12/17/2019
“I can’t stand it! I just can’t wait any longer!” I hear these words from my daughters on a daily basis, it seems. Sometimes they’re spoken in frustration, sometimes in excitement. Always, the object of their waiting is something pleasurable, wished-for. It might be a birthday, time with a friend, a destination, or simply dinner. These days, of course, it’s Christmas. The problem is that they’re not there yet; they have to wait. “It’ll come,” I tell my daughters repeatedly. “Just be patient.” Right now, we are smack in the middle of Advent. The major Christian holidays of Christmas and Easter...
12/03/2019
We were just between the main course and dessert of our Thanksgiving meal, when my daughters asked when we could start decorating for Christmas. Once I’d convinced them that it was not appropriate to begin ripping down the Thanksgiving gourds, turkeys, and autumn leaves and to retrieve the Christmas boxes from the basement immediately, they began happily making plans for the Advent season in between bites of apple pie. “Oh, I can’t wait to make the Christmas cookies!” my ten-year-old exclaimed. This, while we were still shooing the dog and cat away from the turkey carcass on the counter,...
11/19/2019
I’m not sure if I can still call this “stick season,” since snow has lain on the ground for a week now. The most accurate definition of stick season is the period of time between the fall of the last golden leaves and the fall of the first sparkling snow. It’s not really a season at all – just a week or two between late October and early November, a time when the view out our windows displays only grey sticks against the grey sky. But early this morning as the sun was rising and I was feeding the baby, I couldn’t see the icy snow on the ground; all I could see were the bare branches of the...
11/05/2019
While there were many things that attracted us to our current house, the house itself was not one of them. Our house was built in three distinct installments, and it shows. The interior layout is a rambling railroad of rooms. The exterior, when we purchased the house, was covered on three sides with grey vinyl siding and red trim, and on the back side with unfinished wood. Neither vinyl nor wood siding was installed correctly, so water was getting underneath and causing rot. We bought it anyway, because my husband tends to make decisions based on his vision of what can be, as opposed to what’...
10/22/2019
Our families know us best. The people who live with us, who see us first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening, who have front row seats to what bubbles up when we’re squeezed – they’re the ones with the true insights into our character. This is why, whenever a non-family-member says to me, “Oh, you always seem so patient, so calm, like you have it all together!” I picture my daughters rolling on the floor, laughing. They know the wild-eyed woman who stands in our mudroom, waving her arms frantically and yelling, “Time to go! We’re running late! You should’ve used the bathroom...

THE ALPINE SLIDE at Bromley Mountain is the only such slide in Vermont. Photo by Faith Gong
10/08/2019
Vermont is a small state, so it’s easy to assume that after living here eight years we would be aware of all the attractions Vermont has to offer young families. But a couple of weeks ago, we were surprised when a friend told us about Bromley Mountain’s alpine slide. I’d never heard of an alpine slide before, and for a good reason: There are only 37 such slides in the world. Alpine slides dot Australia, Europe, and Asia, but the United States’ slides tend to be located out West, and the Bromley slide is the only alpine slide in Vermont. What is an alpine slide? Picture a long, curving chute...

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Addison County Independent

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Middlebury, VT 05753

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