RHS Curtain Call

To my son, his classmates and peers;

As you may know, your school is in danger of closing sooner than we thought. The very real possibility of losing RHS 9-12 for this (2017-18) school year is upon us and we (parents, community members and your teachers) along with you are scared and apprehensive to say the least. As frightening as this seems, it would also bring with it exciting and new possibilities, let’s remind ourselves of this often.

I want to express my apologies to you all, as we adults have failed you somehow. Act 46 came to be and without meaning to, we let you all down. Our protective little valley that has been a home to us has been torn apart as the elected officials and voters alike have tried their best to seek a solution befitting everyone.

Here we are, not able to offer you comfort or even certainty. I feel as though we’ve neglected you and forgot that we are supposed to protect you and let you know that you do matter. Your school, your home away from home is being seized and you have no power over the decisions that affect you most. I am so sorry.

I know you have made plans for the last year at RHS. A combined end-of-year trip, the last prom, graduation, so many lasts. All taken from you and who is explaining this to you? I’m sorry. We dropped the ball and have neglected you. Your voices matter, your feelings are just. I’m sorry we’ve not allowed a place for you to share them.

It looks as though our little valley has run out of hope and options simultaneously. Again, I’m sorry. Those with a voice and in a position of power have attempted to find a way around this but it has been found to be a near impossible situation. I think I can speak for many when I say, we’re sorry.

I want to tell you that it is all going to be okay, because it will. That in no way is said to minimize the blow this will feel like to you. Your worlds will be rocked, but you will bounce. I promise. In five years you will look back and see that although this time was sad and unforeseen, you survived and even persevered. Some of you may be grateful for the change, some resentful, some terrified. There are no wrong ways to feel. You will miss some classmates, some teachers and most definitely the familiarity your home-town provides. Still, you’ll be okay.

I am not one to embrace change. I find the most comfort in stable, predictable environments. I feel your pain. I feel your angst and disappointment. I urge you all to recall that uneasy feeling you may have had embarking on middle-school, heading into the unknown. This is similar, you survived then as you will now. These last years of high-school are merely a blip in your lives. The stress and anxieties that come with being 16/17 will soon be traded in for college/life-bound jitters and today will be a distant memory. I encourage you to embrace this change, seek out all you can from it. Find new friends and make new memories. Decide that this doesn’t define you and only offers you new ways to become a stronger, more versatile you.

I ask you to forgive your elders for losing sight of you along our way. I feel that in the heated exchanges, moments of panic and planning, you were overlooked and your opinions possibly undervalued. As we move forward and find our paths, remember where you came from and what you were a part of. Rochester school was more than a school, it was a family. You were a part of that, the biggest part.

Thank you for being the kind of young people we are proud to call ours. You have all been remarkable in countless ways. Your kindness and acceptance of others makes us as a community so very proud. Remember also and lastly that this valley who has loved, nurtured, educated and protected you still does, and we will be cheering you on as you move down that road to your future.

 

Finding My Happy Place

“I’d just love to get my hands in some dirt”

Those were the words my beloved Gramma would say so often to me when she was living in Arizona. She was born in Vermont and lived here until 13 years before her death. The love my Grandfather and she shared for gardening was passed down to me. The long Vermont winters, filled with cold and darkness, make the awakening of Spring that much more rewarding.

In my youth I took no interest in the art of gardening. I recall once planting a (just one) beet seed in gravel, watered it and when nothing occurred, I moved on.  Working the earth took place in every household I knew as a kid, I inevitably learned and apparently filed away some of what I observed. My first attempt was met with many challenges, finding the right plot of land, tilling and re-tilling, picking stone after stone. I tried this and that and a dozen years later, know exactly what I find best to grow for our needs.

The art of it all came to me long after the labor. For many years  it was a chore, a duty. We had the land, we had  to use it. Period.

Fast forward several years and a couple moves later to when we owned our own land and I began having garden visions.  My first garden at our new home was a whimsical garden. Painted sap buckets in a variety of colors held annual flowers and cherry tomatoes. A small patch of sweet corn provided hours of hiding for my then 3 and 7 year olds. We had raised rows for string beans, peas, and tomatoes. We had hills for the many varieties of squash we decided to try. My rows were S curves, some rows went this way, some went that way. Our little garden flourished. Our harvest was abundant, yet our skill set needed improvement.

We experimented for the next several years with different layouts, moving tomatoes from here to there, eliminating corn (the yield too small for the space consumed), learned that we could do 2 plantings of greens and beans and on an on. We love improving upon our own creations so we decided to instill our own watering supply, relying upon Mother Nature for such. My husband created a gravity fed system using the little stream on our property. This not only serves as our watering source for the garden, but fills our swimming pool each spring.

We have had years when we solely did container gardens, and others where we implemented the full earthen bed. We tried raised beds, which were abundant and grew to new heights, yet also came with the daily task of removing garter snakes by the dozen (literally) from the crevices where the logs met one another. Not good for an individual such as myself with a significant, yet ridiculous fear for the harmless creatures. I became frightened to even enter my bountiful garden that year, for fear of those sneaky serpents. I would send my strapping husband out daily to remove and inspect before I could enter the vicinity. The scars of that summer still stamped in my memory.

I’ve battled the beetles, the slugs, the blight, the drought and the saturation of very wet seasons. Year by year what began as a chore became a release of endorphins. A therapeutic undertaking, an essential piece to our annual summer plans.

Then came the year we decided to forego the garden. I decided to do my annual flowers, and of course there were my perennials I would be able to tend to and enjoy. This would do for the season. We felt the extra time would be beneficial and the break from the work, an earned respite.  Although I did enjoy respite from many back aches, I missed getting my hands in that dirt. Just as Gramma said so many years before, I now knew what there was to miss.

We have a greenhouse now which we built using solely recycled materials. We still use our gravity feed for watering, only now we have graduated to a soaker-hose system.  We start our plants from seed and savor the literal fruits of our labor. The little girl who planted a beet seed so long ago finally found out what the fuss was all about.

An Odyssey of Faith

“You are how you act, not just how you believe”-Mitch Albom, Have a Little Faith

This quote struck a nerve in me. We as a society have awakened and progressed socially in various aspects during my lifetime alone. Still, I must wonder, how many of us truly act in the manner in which we believe

I believe in equality for all. I believe we are all created equal. The strong, weak, intellects, athletes, every creed, race and kind known on earth.  Equality. Then I find myself acting otherwise. I don’t judge based on one’s social status or choices, but I do judge.  I have gossiped, I have found myself engaged in conversation that is unbecoming at best.  I certainly have been judgmental for no warranted reason.  I paint myself in one light and have found that I may be looking at myself through a lens of obscurity.

I set out on a spiritual journey of sorts this year. I find a need, a calling to not only understand my faith, but to adhere it to my daily living. I was not baptized nor was I brought up in a family that attended church regularly. My step-father insisted on Christmas Eve candle-lit service every year and that was the most diligence exemplified regarding the church in my upbringing. I have attended our local churches and sought counsel from a few pastors. I have listened to sermons that touched me and others that have flown over my head with their reference to biblical verse. I have been offered every kindness and acceptance within our local parishes and still have yet to find where I feel I belong. Could it be that I don’t belong in a house of the Lord, or that I simply refuse to adhere to the discipline it would require? I feel it is ostensibly the latter.

I read recently that religion is more than faith, it’s ritual also. Not only weekly worship, but morning prayer, evening prayer, fasting, communion, whatever ones denomination practices. I assuredly do not apply these to my life on a daily, weekly or even yearly basis so how is it that I cast a shadow of judgement on those that do attend worship weekly? I have peered down my nose and labeled others as six-day sinners and a one-day saint, when really those that I am referring to are taking the initiative to be present in their faith, at least weekly.

Society is now inflicted with the information age, we hide behind computer screens, tablets and phones. We check-in with our social media daily but not our God. We make and take time to scan our Facebook and Twitter feeds but not the time to say Grace before a meal. Is it that we no longer have faith, or have we as a society become idle in our conviction of faith?

When did worship become embarrassing? When did we decide it uncool to share our spiritual idealism with others and seek guidance from our neighbors? Did we get so busy in our laziness that we cast God aside? Have we become such an indifferent society that we find our social media a more necessary activity than participating in our faith?

I do not have any of the answers to my own questions, I am just another roving soul seeking security and love from my God. I will continue in my quest for a place of worship, I may have already found it and must simply apply myself in showing up. I will hope for understanding from others and I will practice returning the kindnesses and considerations I have been blessed with.

I urge all to take a moment to acknowledge the correlation between ones beliefs and actions. Our beliefs are what makes us who we want to be, our actions make us who we are.

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