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My Vermont: Sarah Jo Willey

05/05/08 2:23PM
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My Vermont is home. I don't use that word lightly! For me it is more than just a place of residence or a place of origin. It goes beyond a familiar or usual setting. Home is a deeply anchored web of roots.

Home means family both in blood and in community; family that includes neighbors who stop everything to run up the hill with shovels in hand to chip away at ice and redirect the spring run-off from flooding your house. Neighbors whose response to "I owe you one," is "no you don't...this is what neighbors do." That night standing saturated to the bone in freezing March rain we stood over our shovels and agreed wholeheartedly that this is one of the things we love about small Vermont communities. Neighbors are happy to leave you alone and at the same time drop everything to help when you need them.

As a teenager I couldn't wait to leave and make my mark on this world somewhere else, somewhere bigger, brighter, more exciting. The wanderlust dissipated quickly during my first year of college out of state. Much to my surprise the only place I wanted to be was home-not because I lost ambition, or had given up on my dreams. In fact, quite the opposite was true. I began to see that the very place my ambitions and dreams would come to fruition was right here in Vermont. The urge to give back to the community who gave me so much was overwhelming and for the past ten years that is exactly what I've been doing.

My Vermont can't be explained adequately in words. It is more than the quintessential photographs of brilliant fall leaves, or rolling pastures, quiet country inns, or fluffy ski slopes. My Vermont is connection, community, family, the deep comfortable roots of home.

Sarah Jo, Bakersfield



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