Tag Archives: Vermont

A Persistent Memory

The house at the top of the long green lawn is enormous in my memory.

It is one of those gracious homes which sprang to life, with its wide open porches, turrets and gables, near lakes, in a bygone century. The clapboards are white, the trim a green so dark as to seem black.

From where I stand, near the windy edge of the Lake, the lawn is a vast, up-sloping expanse of manicured grass, the house a straight-spined governess with her hands on hips. She stands alone watching over me.

I don’t remember who else is with me, but neither do I feel particularly alone.

The Lake smells like fresh water in early spring. It’s at my back, but I know the edge is rocky more than sandy, uncomplicated by scrubby vegetation or wild grasses. Like the green lawn, the water is vast. Foam tipped, gray-blue water as far as I could see, were I to turn around.

The sky is clear and pale.

This place, so vivid, has been with me as long as I can remember having memories. It comes to me now and again, when my mind wanders, or when I smell lake water in cool weather. I associate it with the absentminded way my son holds his Beek to his face. It’s a comforting memory, one to savor.

A safe place.

About ten years ago, I asked my mother which of their friends my parents had been visiting when we stayed there. I described the house, the memory of standing with my back to the water, watching the house watching me.

The memory plagues me because I can’t place the owners or the other inhabitants.

My mother had nothing to offer. No friends or family who’d ever lived in such a place, no vacation we took that brought us there. No houses by great Lakes.

And yet, the memory persists. It is an important place. I have been there.

This is response to The Red Dress Club’s memoir exercise in two parts:
Part I
: Make a list of some of your most vivid childhood (or more recent) memories. Pick one and write it down in as much detail as possible.
Part II
: Investigate what this memory means to you.

Two Little Poems

Vermont

my heart’s home
smells like snow in the air
and manure in the spring
a month of mud at the equinoxes

To the Music Snobs

poo to that
I am a magpie
I like every shiny song I’ve ever heard
and the ones I don’t?
I just ignore

From

I am from academic chairs, from Bean Boots and Aunt Louise the Christmas cactus.

I am from the little brown Cape house, later gray, antiques and old photographs, comfortable sofas and wood fires.

I am from the brook, the ash tree with the soccer ball dangling from its dead branch.

I am from the paper crowns in Christmas crackers and dry humor, from Brown and Bock and Liston.

I am from inappropriate dinner conversations and a dark family secret aired. From three grandparents who would have loved me and a grandmother who loved me very much.

I am from lapsed Congregationalists and lost Methodists, a musty family Bible, my paternal grandmother’s confirmation corsage pressed within.

I’m from the city of commercial Valentines and Royal Corsets, the Black Forest, the Green Mountains, St. Andrews, Amsterdams old and New, macaroni and cheese and my grandmother’s gingerbread cookie recipe.

From my father, who once licked a parking meter on a winter’s day. His grandmother yanked him off, along with the skin of his tongue. My mother, who tried to flush her baby sister down the toilet.

I am from cemeteries and my mother’s writing desk, shoe boxes and storage containers in the crawl space behind my parents’ bed, photographs and news clippings, letters and genealogy charts.

This post is a response to a Red Dress Club prompt from months ago, titled “Where I’m From”, but I only found the words to finish it now, as the year is both ending and beginning. So here it is, a view of myself as the year turns.

Happy New Year!

Winter Morning

This piece of steamy fiction was commission by The Mad Woman Behind the Blog for her Sexy Time series on A Diary of a Mad Woman. It was a chance to flex my writing-fiction-on-demand muscles, and I was grateful for the invitation.

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone!

Winter Morning

The old farmhouse was always cold in winter. There was no escaping it. Whole sections of the rambling building were pre-Revolutionary, so the insulation was patchy at best. Her grandparents, like the generations before them, had simply endured the cold, feeding the voracious maw of the wood stove in the kitchen to stay warm.

When the livestock had gone to auction, a half-century before, the barns had fallen into disuse, and had slowly crumbled on the outskirts of the door yard. Here and there, broken windows were patched with what materials her grandfather had foraged from the collapsing outbuildings. Money had always been tight, but there was always deadfall in the acres of forest that still remained on the homestead for someone cold enough to pull it home behind the old tractor for burning.

For the millionth time, she cursed her parents for neglecting the place, and the tough but fragile people who’d made their life together under the deteriorating roof.

She still wondered, looking at his pristine hiking boots on the rug next to the antique sled in the front hall, if bringing him here had been been the right choice. His black cashmere coat and ridiculous shearling hat kept him warm, certainly, but the arctic wind columns of the Ladder District were less wild, less primitive than the foothills of the Green Mountains, if equally as cold.

She kicked clumps of dirty snow from her boots, an ancient pair from L.L. Bean she’d found in the front hall closet the first time she’d come back to the house. The cold from the snowy logs seeped through the red and black plaid wool work shirt she’d thrown on over her long underwear and into her arms, standing the hair on her arms at attention.

She bent to stack the wood next to the stove, reached for the door handle with the wool wrapped around her bare, chilled fingers. She filled the stove, prodded the fire, opened the dampers to get the air flowing, and sat back on her heels to admire the crackling blaze.

“I like the shirt.”

She startled, nearly pitching forward against the hot cast iron. He was at her shoulder in a flash, arms around her to steady her. His hands were cold, but his body was warm, pressed against hers.

“Come back to bed,” he whispered.

Again she wrapped her fingers in the cuff of the wool shirt, damping down the stove to keep the flames from devouring the firewood too quickly.

She turned to him, tilted her head, offered him her mouth.

She slid her fingers under his fleece half-zip sweater, under his soft cotton tee shirt, laughing wickedly at his sharp breath. Her fingers were icy against his stomach. He grinned in reply, and kissed her, stealing her breath completely away.

This, oh, this, his clever lips playing hers like a woodwind, his clever hands in her hair, on her back, between the silk of her long johns and the jut of her hip bone, this was why she’d brought him here, far from conference rooms and coffee shops. She pressed up and into him, urging him back from the hearth towards the bedroom door.

He hummed appreciatively, ran his hands over her ass and hoisted her up. She held on gleefully while he carried her into the bedroom. The bed was a simple one, hand-carved, glossy with age, too high off the floor, small.

He set her down into a sea of goose down and worn flannel, kissing his way down her throat, stopping to taste the hollow between her breasts before drawing the silk top up and over her head. He paused to lay the shirt carefully over the footboard. She reclined back on her elbows to watch his face, shadowy in the light of the oil lamp on the bed side table. His meticulous care of objects was endearing, a reminder of his meticulous care of her.

He returned to her, kneeling on the braided rug, gently tugging off her rag socks, kissing her right ankle as he set the socks to one side. He came up between her legs, caressing the backs of her knees, the insides of her thighs through the silk, hands stopping just shy of where she so desperately wanted to feel them.

She let her body drop back when he lifted her to slip the bottoms down, baring her skin to the still, crisp air. Lifting her head, she saw his breath; hot clouds rose as he blazed a trail of open-mouthed kisses to follow the tide of cold air as it washed along her uncovered legs.

As he stood to strip off his clothing, she tucked herself under the ancient eiderdown, shuddering as much from anticipation as from the sudden warmth. He was beautiful in the amber light, taut skin rippling with shivers. He set his discarded garments over hers on the foot board, and she lifted the comforter to invite him in.

In the Manner of Dreaming

I had a dream two nights ago about being late to meet Mark at a theatre in Burlington, VT. That? Simple wishful thinking, on a number of levels. From there, it gets more complicated.

I was forced to park the car seven or eight blocks away from the theatre, and trot up the hill to the University, past a row of three-deckers, very similar to the ones I once passed walking to and from my old apartment, outside Davis Square, Somerville. Using the reasoning of dreams, I grabbed a tricycle from the back of my car to help me get there faster, but it didn’t work, which meant I was stuck carrying it.

As I approached one of the three-deckers, someone called to me from a third story to come up. It was a friend from college. We’ll call him Burnsie. As I trudged, carrying a tricycle, up his front steps, he burst out of the door to tell me he was finally in a film! I hugged him and said congratulations and how’ve you been-all the things you might say, hearing that news from someone you haven’t seen in years–never mind that he’s a lawyer in real life.

Suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, in the manner of dreaming, another friend from college was on the porch, inviting me to come to their party. We’ll call him Roo. I told them I was late for the theatre, but could I leave the tricycle on their porch and pick it up later? Just then, a few more college friends, Fibby, Petay, and the Burger, ran past me on the stairs laughing like hyenas. Again, Roo invited me to the party. This time, two of my old roommates, Beryl and Shepherdess Y, come barreling out of the apartment, and they run off up the street.

I find myself (love the lack of transitions in dreams) walking towards the University again, only to discover that Beryl is missing, but Shepherdess Y has found our friend Becs, and we are all on our way to the theatre.

We run into the theatre, which has a gift shop/book store at the top of the grand staircase, and while Y and I head for the entrance, Becs goes to buy something. There’s a bell ringing, and the performance has already started, but Y forces her way through the screen door (yes, screen door), and we discover that Mark is there waiting for me, and our seats are near Becs and Y’s seats.

We sit, and I see I’ve lost my purse. Just as I’m whispering that I’ll find it later, the alarm goes off and I wake.

What’s odd is that I was left with the sense that my friend Glenn, who died four years ago, has been talking to me. And he wasn’t directly in the dream. Just the sense that he might have been there, in the corner of my eye, cracking wise and laughing loud, always listening, quick to embrace, lingered with me while I was getting ready to go to work. It lingered throughout the day. I get those feelings pretty rarely, but when I get them, I try to pay attention.

I’m not religious, and I’m not sure about anything, but I can’t believe that the essence of what makes us so gorgeously human is lost entirely when we die. In which case, why not be open to the idea that my dear friend plays dream architect from time to time? The dream, and feeling of not being entirely alone with my thoughts, made what might have been a truly awful day more bearable.

If there’s a better way to keep a friend’s memory alive, I don’t know it.

Apparently I Am Award Worthy

Roxane says so. It is true.

She kindly bestowed upon me the Fabulous Sugar Doll Blogger Award! I’m all flustered and blushing because, you see, it’s my first award. My humble wee blog, describing the triumphs and my altogether too common foibles as a nanny, mama, wife, and human female, now boasts its very first award! So. Without further ado, I will fulfill the requirements of accepting this lovely award.

Les rules:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award.

Roxane, you are hilarious. Your children are gorgeous. I didn’t know much I missed you until I found you. That we were clearly separated at birth, despite our difference in age, will be a great tale to tell at family reunions! Thank you thank you thank you! You are a Sugar Doll!

2. Share ten things about yourself.

  • When I read a good book, everything else falls away. I literally live in the story. Sometimes Mark has to yell to get me to even hear him.
  • While I’m not a team player, athletically speaking, I’m very competitive. I like to outdo myself. It’s my best motivator.
  • I finally figured out how to do my hair. At the tender age of 33.
  • I am a bag whore. I love bags. Love them. Want them. Constantly remind myself not to buy more of them.
  • If I had unlimited funds, I would buy a huge farm in Addison County, VT, and live in it when I wasn’t traveling the globe. Top of my current list? Budapest, the Scottish highlands, Morocco, Barcelona, Venice (again), Paris, Tokyo, Sydney…
  • I kind of regret getting our second dog when we did. If I’d known I was pregnant when I made the arrangements to take the puppy, I might not have done it. She did not get my full attention when she was a puppy and needed it most.
  • I sometimes let the dishes go for days. It’s major housekeeping failing of mine.
  • My left ankle swelled up while I was pregnant, and it never got all the way back to how it was before. I’m very self-conscious about it.
  • I don’t like pie. Judge me all you like.
  • I have a real weakness for British television. The fictional stuff, not the reality shows, except for Graham Norton. He’s a mischievous little elf, and I love him!

That was harder than I thought it would be.

3. Pass the award along to 10 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic!

Recent being defined as the last couple of weeks? Or do I have a larger window than that? Anyway, in no particular order:

4. Contact the bloggers and let them know you’ve picked them for the award.

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Let them eat…


… CAKE!

My friend Alex and his fiancee, Kara, were married yesterday in gorgeous Waitsfield, VT. It was like a storybook – late afternoon ceremony by the pond, frogs gulping from the water, local, artisan food, a historic round barn on a mountain farm… ::sigh::

And a wedding cake by CDG’s Cakes! (the specimen above was a creative choice by the married couple: my Perisan Genoise sponge cake with chocolate creme patissiere and fresh strawberry filling and Italian mousseline buttercream. Special thanks to the folks at The Blue Toad for coming through with a last minute flower order!)

Mark and I stayed up the road “a fer piece” at the The Wilder Farm Inn which was cozy and charming, and had the largest pancakes I’ve ever seen (Bickford’s Big Apple excepted).