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.

Let the Light Shine

I failed. I failed at being patient. I failed at being understanding. I failed at controlling my temper. I reacted to a comment and before I knew it, was neck-deep in a war of words with my husband.

Twenty years we’ve been together. Twenty years and we still have moments in which we act like spoiled kids and throw insults at each other. I should have taken just one second to evaluate what it was he said to me, how he said it, and whether it was frustration directed at me or just frustration in his voice, directed at no one in particular.

In hindsight I saw clearly that he was not directing any animosity toward me, nor was his frustration because of me. He simply made a comment and I flew into a rage. I was convinced he was attacking my character.

What had begun as a beautiful, fun day, full of hope and love, was at once turned to darkness. I singlehandedly darkened the entire world around me.

If only I had controlled my temper. If only I had taken just one moment to be sure I was reacting appropriately. It’s so difficult for me to admit when I’m wrong. It’s paralyzing. To have this one person in my life that sees me at my worst, best and all the adjectives in between and loves me all the while is really something, isn’t it? To know without question that someone in this world will accept us when we aren’t lovable to say anything about likeable, this is the fabric of life.

To be loved means you must love. To find acceptance you must be accepting. To be seen at your most vulnerable allows a loved one to see you authentically. We race through each day and show our smiles to passerby’s, maybe we gaze downward to avoid eye contact in an attempt to keep to ourselves. We tell those who ask that we are well even if we are crumbling inside. We as humans lie daily in our quest to be accepted.

I can’t hide from my husband. He sees and I believe, feels my moods as they change. He can anticipate a good day on the horizon. He can anticipate a storm before the clouds even fill my sky. He can also tolerate all that I am. It’s not easy to see all and still love someone completely, without condition, yet he does just that. He loves me for all I am, and in spite of all I am. In my husband’s eyes I am flawed, damaged and beautiful. His love stabilizes me. He is the glue to the fabric of my soul.

I couldn’t say why I have been blessed with such love. I can’t say that I am to him all he is to me. I hope to be, I try to be, but I know he exceeds and surpasses me at every turn. My husband is everything we should all hope to be. Tolerant, loyal, forgiving and honest.

I failed in a moment, but I triumphed in life. Today I will attempt to be a success in regard to my treatment of others, of my husband, and my children. It isn’t easy loving me. It isn’t simple. I came into the world as a complicated soul and I believe that is how I’ll leave it. I don’t apologize for my misstep, an apology is usually (in my experience) a short-term solution and a way for the assailant to excuse their behavior. Instead, I admit to my wrongs. I own my actions and get up and try again to be a better me.

I thank God and all the energy in this world for finding me the one soul I would need throughout my journey here. I give thanks for being so lucky as to have found this love, this friendship so long ago. My husband is my light and his light shines endlessly.

 

 

There She Goes…

 

I became a mother just before I turned twenty years old, my  future husband was only eighteen. We had both dropped out of high school in our junior year, and both had little going for us. We came from broken homes, ugly divorces and together vowed to not go the way of our parents. Come what may, we knew together was how we’d remain.

Born 3 weeks early,  in a blinding snowstorm on the first day of February 1997. She came into this world weighing barely 5 pounds. She was pink and perfect. Our beautiful baby girl. Frightened and full of hope we took her home and embarked on our journey together as a family.

We seemingly grew-up alongside our daughter. Learning as we went and following no particular guide. Mothering came so easily to me, my calling had been discovered. My daughter was the missing link I’d been searching for. She and I have been a team since day one. The old adage of “I’m not your friend, I’m your parent” never really applied to us. At times I attempted being just her parent, although time and again I failed. I would lose my temper, I acted childish at times and would even argue as though I were a sibling, with her.

The one constant my husband and I have with our kids has been brutal honesty. We demand it from them and they have come to expect it from us. We use inappropriate language. We don’t always sit down at the table together for meals. We have a sense of humor that many would call indecorous. We don’t entertain, nor do we go out on the town. We live in the foothills of Vermont’s Green Mountains, and are happiest when we are living simply and quietly away from the bustle of life.

Our daughter was and remains our claim to small-town fame. When you reside in a tri-town valley with a population of just over 1,700, people know and remember your every move. There were whispers questioning her paternity, questioning my ability to be a responsible parent. There were loud whispers betting on the collapse of our relationship before we even moved in together. We married when our first-born was two years old and nearly twenty-two years later we are happily, solidly, very much together.

Now we find ourselves faced with coming full circle as parents. We have raised our girl, watched her grow into a young lady and now she is preparing to spread her wings and go her own way. She tried going the way of college and found living on campus to not be a fit for her, she completed a semester on campus and decided to try community college instead. She then lived with her boyfriend for a short while and returned home to save some money and live with ease for a time.

I will watch her pack her room and sort through her childhood deciding what to take and what to pack away. I will once again prepare to choke back the tears as I watch her head out that door knowing I won’t be leaving the porch light on for her. I won’t come home to find her trail of belongings left like breadcrumbs for me. There won’t be peanut butter stuck to the side of a spoon or left beside her bed from a late-night snack. I won’t lose my hairspray, lotions or deodorants to the abyss that is her bedroom. I won’t complain daily to my husband or son of the messes she leaves and wonder aloud why she can’t simply hang her jacket on a hook, instead adorning the back of every chair with different style jacket. I won’t have a team member in the room to have my back on the debates of the sexes. I will once again be the one solitary feminine presence in the household.

With her moving will come newness to our relationship that we tasted for a brief moment once before. We won’t be bickering near as often, we won’t know the ins and outs of each other’s daily life and we will find ourselves feeling renewed in our friendship yet again. This is where our closeness in age will have it’s time to shine. We will have our phone calls and daily check-ins yet again. I will share my excitements and frustrations with her and she with me. We will become closer, no doubt in our distance.

They say having a daughter means having a best friend for life. I say that having a daughter has enhanced my life in ways I never could have foreseen. Being a mother, her mother, has brought my life meaning and purpose. In my daughter I have found the pieces of me that I never knew I longed so deeply to find. Now as she begins to embark upon making her own life; independent of her father, brother and I, we will watch with a wistful excitement and wish her to find all the joys in this life that she has brought to us.

 

 

 

 

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