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My Vermont: Deborah Luskin

05/30/08 5:55PM By Deborah Luskin
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(Host) Teacher, writer and commentator Deborah Luskin was inspired by VPR's My Vermont project to reflect on how she came to live in the Green Mountains. She says that her Vermont is a place to both work and play.

(LUSKIN) I knew about Vermont because I'd been vacationing here since 1965, when my aunt and uncle - both Brooklyn schoolteachers - bought a summer place on Newfane Hill. A few years later, we kids dragged our parents out of the ski lodge and onto the slopes. The effort paid off with their addiction to skiing and family winter trips to Stowe.

I came to Vermont on my own in the summer in 1984, and I'm still here.

I didn't come to vacation, but to work: I planned on finishing two writing projects that summer, and I did complete a novel; the dissertation took another two-and-a-half years.

At the end of the summer I had to return to work, so I started commuting to New York City, where I was both a student and a teacher at Columbia. I left before dawn on Monday morning, arriving in time to park on the street, where I wouldn't have to move my car until I'd finished my last class on Wednesday night. Ultimately, the commute was unsustainable; I finished my courses, gave up my apartment, and looked for work in Vermont.

Work in Vermont is plentiful; it's income that's not, nor is it necessarily work for which I needed a Ph.D. But that's okay, because I not only work in Vermont, but I live where I play. And when I can take time off from one of the several jobs I shuffle, I still vacation in Vermont.

Every summer, I hike in the woods. Each winter, I find new places to snow shoe or ski. Sometimes, I can only get away for a brief jaunt. I've visited any number of interesting places on these day trips - places where Vermont's milk is processed, like Ben & Jerry's and Cabot's, to museums which preserve Vermont's past, like the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, where I learned about the Lake's role in the Revolutionary War, and of its function as a crucial thoroughfare back when water travel was far superior to traveling over land.

Because I'm interested in learning about how things work, I've traveled to the slate quarries in Fair Haven and the granite quarries in Barre, to see how the backbone of the state is mined. I've been to the Shelburne Museum and the Billings Farm. I'm determined to visit Windsor to view the American Precision Museum, which documents the mechanical invention that gave rise to a time when Vermont's "Precision Valley" was to industrial technology what Silicon Valley is today.

But the beauty of living in my Vermont is that I don't really have to get in the car at all. I can simply step out my back door for a view of Vermont's extraordinary beauty.
I can walk to one of the best swimming holes on the planet.

The best thing about my Vermont is that I don't really need to go on vacation, I'm already here.
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