Tuesday, June 7, 2011
I picture rolling green hills and lakes clean enough for swimming. I feel the magnetic pull of the stretch of meadow at Fays Corner in Richmond and the early morning mist over Lake Champlain. My feet itch for a walk along Burlington's Church Street, past the usual crowd of 21st century New England hippies. We will have just missed the Jazz Festival on the waterfront, but perhaps we can stop by the Ben & Jerry's scoop shop for a double scoop of Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Cherry Garcia (frozen yogurt if I feel like being healthy, ice cream if I feel like walking on the wild side).
Seven years later, I returned to Church Street. I bypassed What Ale's You and the Skirack this time in favor of street vendors and the Discovery Channel Store. Along with my two-year-old son, we embraced life with gusto. Devin turned heads with his blond curls, his movie star sunglasses, and a heart-stopping smile. We paused to climb every boulder between the Unitarian Church at the head of Church Street to Sweetwater's Restaurant near the bottom.
Over the next eighteen years, we returned to the cobblestones on frigid New Year's Eves for the annual First Night Dancing Dragons Parade, on humid summer afternoons for Italian sausage from Bookie's street cart, and occasionally for sumptuous desserts at Leunig's Bistro.
I miss the feel of Vermont, from the taste of the air on the first full-blown summer day in June to the unapologetically tree-hugging politics. I miss the bluntness of native Vermonters (although one has to search harder and harder to find them these days) and the eccentricities of my fellow church members there. I miss the music, from Mozart on the shores of Lake Champlain to the hot summer day we spent at the Vermont Reggae Festival in a rolling meadow up north. I dream of a day beginning on the Sunset Ridge trail on Mount Mansfield and ending in the charm of a tiny theatre in Waitsfield.
July will find me once again contentedly roaring past endless cornfields on the motorcycle and anticipating the glory of Friday night football underneath the lights. For this slice of early summer, however, my heart returns to an earlier home.