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My Vermont: David Moats

04/29/08 5:55PM By David Moats
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(HOST) Inspired by VPR's My Vermont project, commentator and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David Moats has been thinking about what it was - exactly - that brought him to the Green Mountains.

(MOATS) I read somewhere that each generation makes war with its parents and peace with its grandparents.

This idea came to mind as I thought back to the time in the 1970s when I first came to Vermont.

I was looking for something, and in a way I think it was the world of my grandparents.

They grew up on farms and in little towns in Maryland, Utah and Idaho.

In Vermont I became a journalist, and as a young man I interviewed lots of old-timers, summoning up that old world where people lived in real little communities. They planted gardens and fished the rivers. Their houses came out of a long tradition of old-style American houses, and their streets were shaded by arching maples.

The simplicity and human scale of that world stood in contrast to the world of my parents - the suburbs, where there was no sense of a continuous community because the community was so new and everybody came from somewhere else.

People lived in ranch houses - though there wasn't a ranch in sight.

Everything revolved around the car and the television.

With our grandparents, we played canasta.

At our home in the suburbs we watched TV.

I shouldn't oversimplify of course. We did a lot of other things: baseball, music, reading books, and traveling to Idaho, where we had a look at that simpler world.

My Vermont was a place where the ways of the grandparents seemed to persist. In Vermont I met people who had the same rural accent and the same dry humor as my grandfather from Maryland.

Those of us who came here back then hoped to leave the suburbs behind, except so many of us came that parts of Vermont began to turn into suburbs.

What I want to see for Vermont in the next 20 or 30 years is not necessarily shared by everyone who lives here.

My parents were trying to get away from their provincial small town histories and so life in a suburb near a glittering city was a promising prospect. Everyone has to follow his or her own path toward a fulfilling life.

I am among those for whom the rural life promises something simple and honest, surrounded by the beauty of the natural world, which I find on my walks down the road to the beaver pond, where the herons are back on the big nest out on that old snag.

Those of us who cherish that world know it can vanish as quickly as the world of our grandparents did. But for now it's the world we love.
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