Through the years folks would say to me, “Don’t tell anyone what a precious place is this Vermont in which we live.”
With the recent news that Vermont has been discovered, and that the population is growing, comes the realization of what we have treasured here is no longer a secret.
One might say it’s the pandemic that brings people here from busier and more congested urban areas, but the real estate bubble suggests more than just a temporary blip on the sales charts is what is happening.
With what is going on around the country, some are looking for sanity, something deeper and more sustaining of the values alive in our better selves. Specifically, we see it in those students who come to St. Johnsbury Academy and Lyndon Institute from all over the world. And, of course, we have in town after town the best schools anywhere.
Furthermore, we often think, don’t we, that such an observation is so serious, so thoughtful and wise.
Yet laughter, school sports, play, and having fun brings us not only from the pent-up doldrums of a long winter for those who couldn’t get out. It is a yearning for a more balanced way of life.
We all have friends from near and far who don't understand Vermonters. We are sometimes dismissed as weird or wonderfully different. Certainly, any place called Ticklenaked Pond would raise their eyebrows and bring a good laugh. For readers who don’t know, there really is a place called Ticklenaked Pond in Ryegate.
But that’s just the point. We do laugh. We do play. And it is all completely thawed out by June. Except I do remember it snowed on June 1 a few years ago.
If you question the veracity of such an observation, walk with me through Northeast Kingdom for a moment and, consider some of the places for fun and play all around us. It will tickle your fancy.
For example, there are ponds and lakes galore. Memphremagog, Willoughby, Caspian, Crystal, Joes, Island, Martins, Peacham, Shadow, Moore Dam, Averill, West Glover, Groton and Newark. Those are just in my orbit over the years, and off the top of my mind with no research.
Furthermore, there are stay and play camps everywhere. I have local friends who go with their campers to Sugar Ridge in Danville, and they rave about it. The traffic slows on Route 5 outside the fantastically developed home sites for campers on Route 5 North of Lyndonville.
No column on “People and Places” would fail to honor the incredible views. All my years here convinced me to build The Potter Chapel on our high ridge here at Pineberry Farm in Wheelock. The 85-mile view to the southeast to Mount Washington will forever give me perspective, peace, and joy. I think of my chapel as part of a great cathedral with Wheelock, Ida, and the Stannard Mountain range on the right side. The magnificent White Mountains form the altar, and the left wall of the cathedral is the Victory Range and Burke Mountain. The entrance is a beautiful maple grove. Surely, the 23rd Psalm was written by a Vermonter: “I Will Lift Up My Eyes Unto the Hills.”
We all know those hills from our viewing spot. The other day coming back from Colebrook, Island Pond and East Charleston my wife and I jumped for joy at the vista overlooking Lake Willoughby, and far to the northwest to Jay Peak and beyond.
A June wedding years ago at the top of Burke Mountain is a precious memory, and the view toward Mount Pisgah and Mount Hor sealed the joyous day.
Over 15 years of coming home to Wheelock from my Peacham ministry, I would pull over to the turnout just after the McDonald Farm on Route 2 and give thanks.
Well-etched in my memory is the view from the Roy Farm and the Morin Cabin back over Harveys Lake, from the Kempton and Maclean Fields, from the Fuehrer and the Fickes fields, from the bike ride north out of East Burke, from the high road in West Burke to Sutton, and the westward view in Peacham Cemetery. That’s my quick list. Think of yours.
Call it what you will: fun and games, stay and play, ride and seek, live and laugh, cope and hope, or tickled to pieces. Our shared experiences make June an open door for summer and celebration. What a joy for us all especially after what we have been through in these terrible pandemic months. Such joy is good for the “whole month” and longer!
Tickle Naked? I will leave it to my great-grandchildren and yours to have fun with that. In the meantime, I will just “ponder” it all with joy.
Enjoy, a joyous June!