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Averyt: Vacation Time

07/31/12 7:55AM By Anne Averyt
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(Host) South Burlington poet and commentator Anne Averyt enjoys her friends’ vacation - when she can harvest their gardens and renew her connection to the land, present and past.

(Averyt) It’s vacation time again for my friends of the many acre gardens, and I’ve been left in charge. The blueberries are bursting, there’s kale and chard in abundance. I’ve just picked the first corn of the season, and the summer squash and zucchini are a feast in yellow and green. Above it all preside the sunflowers, golden and majestic; and the sweet scent of phlox fills the air. Mid-summer magic at the many acre farm.

When I’ve finished for the evening, I share the back porch with Shady, the farm dog. I look out over the fields toward Mt. Mansfield and the Greens, which loom and slope on the horizon. It feels good to share the evening with the land. There’s something very special about looking off into the distance and not into your neighbor’s kitchen.

For several years before we moved to Vermont, our family owned seven acres of meadow and woodland in rural Maryland. On weekends we’d flee the overcrowding of Washington, D.C. and escape to our fantasy land abutting the Potomac River. We’d explore overgrown paths and pick wild berries. From a rise on the land you could sit and watch turkey buzzards glide in effortless flight. The air smelled fresh, and you could see for miles.

When we first moved to Vermont, our Shelburne house was on the edge of wooded land that was the frontier of exploration for our nine year old twin sons and Petie, their beagle. As they grew older, weekends and summer vacations took them further afield – backpacking on the Long Trail or camping – only at primitive sites, of course.

As a city kid from Philadelphia , I remember how excited I was to visit my grandparents’ summer cottage in rural upstate Pennsylvania. There, water gushed from a pump not a faucet, and the neighbors’ cows would stroll up to the windows of the dining room. The bathroom was a wooden outhouse, and we kids gathered rocks to dam up a small field stream so we could swim in knee-deep water. The cottage sat on a dirt road that seemed to go nowhere, but for us it led to a truly a magic kingdom.

I realize that my happiest memories are tied to open land, the freedom of the uninhabited, where the only entertainment is the serenade of bullfrogs and the monotonous song of cicadas. Safely away from city streets, I treasure the solace of country living.

I still love museums, theaters, restaurants and the night life of the city – but what truly feeds me is the land; and right now, as I tend my friends’ gardens, I feed both body and soul.

I’m really beginning to cherish my friends’ vacations – a time when I can partake of their bounty, walk the realm with Shady the dog and pretend I am lord of the manor.
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