Coming home

5th December 2022

The Arlington Inn.

There are lots of nice places to stay in Vermont.

Vermont is a nice state.

Scenically beautiful of course, but there’s more to it that that.

Grant and I agree that Vermont just feels nice.

It’s extraordinary really, hard to explain.

Even decades ago, when I first came up to Vermont, I remember that sense of well-being.

Then, maybe it is not all that astonishing.

There are other places where I have felt warm and safe.

Maine, for example. With it’s endless forests, mountains and lakes.

Common criteria: Nature; the absence of people.

What is surprising though, is that living where we do, surrounded by open spaces in a sparsely populated part of New York, we still get this strange sensation crossing the state line into Vermont.

It isn’t that we don’t love living where we do, certainly.

We are in fact a stone’s throw from Vermont. What could possibly be so different?

We have been across the state line often enough now, at different times of year and in varying weather, but the feeling still comes up.

We tried to pin it down. Vermont has the appearance of being cared for. There are fewer ruined or abandoned homes and other structures. The roads seem better.

Is it that Vermont draws so many tourists, thus making appearance important? I keep thinking “Switzerland”, it’s neat in that same way.

The main reason I left Washington State was because I had begun to feel uncomfortable there.

When I went there in June of 2000, I loved the proximity of the Pacific Ocean and of the majestic Cascade mountains. After the crowds on Long Island, it felt peaceful. I could relax.

Every day, at SEATAC airport, I still encountered crowds, but that was work, which I could detach from.

So many things happened after 2001, it would be hard to say that anything in particular caused my feelings to change.

My aged father came to live near me and within days of having his immigration status approved, he was diagnosed with inoperable cancer.

My own major spine surgery in 2007 resulted in early retirement.

After which came my venture into fostering cats.

No doubt, I was less mellow!

But something else was bothering me.

After the spinal fusion, I was on morphine which sent me into a three-day orbit that involved volcanoes and devastating floods, as well as dire smoky scenarios concerning my cats.

When I emerged from all of that, I wasn’t at all certain I was still alive or on planet earth. Most of the experience faded, but I have always been afraid of volcanoes and I became nervous about the proximity of Mt Rainier and of the potential for dangerous tsunamis.

In 2016 and 2017 heavy smoke from wildfires caused more anxiety.

While I may have been able to flee any of these potential disasters, I would not easily have been able to move a lot of cats.

Perhaps what had the greatest effect on me was that suburbia was expanding in every direction, in the form of box-like condos which were overtaking every available green space.

With the increasing population, it became impossible to go anywhere without getting stuck in traffic, at any time of day.

The loss of animal habitat distressed me. I felt stifled.

How does one, at the age of 70, re-structure one’s life?

Hope for an impulse that doesn’t blow up in your face!

Moving to a new location seemed a little imprudent, so I ruled out Utah which I had once considered.

Somewhere familiar would feel safer. New York. But not Long Island. I needed space, somewhere with sparse population.

All my adult life, I suffered fairly serious depression which I had done my best to manage.

In Washington, I did well until the arrival of my father. After that I had years of difficult therapy, but by 2018 I felt strong enough to undertake the move back East.

As the departure day approached I avoided thinking of what I would leave as I knew it could easily sabotage me. On the day, I closed the door, climbed into the airport transport and did not look back.

Grant and I flew together with Willow and Muffin in carriers. The flight was awful. I had to suffer the indignity of being pushed in a wheelchair through the airport where I had worked for so many years,

We found our way to the car rental office, loaded ourselves and cats and spent some time negotiating our way out of metropolitan New York.

Suddenly, we burst free and a great open sky was before us.

It was a beautiful late September day.

We still had a long drive ahead but we were laughing.

Everything would be alright.

Should I have chosen Vermont, since I like it so much?

Probably it would have been too expensive but in any case, New York seemed to call. Why, I’m not sure, since I had been fairly unhappy in my Long Island days.

Perhaps when you live somewhere long enough I grows into your blood. The States are different to England’s counties. They are much more like separate countries. One identifies with ones State.

That September day, I felt that I had come home.

6 thoughts on “Coming home

  1. Thank you, Carolyn, for the beautiful post. It reminds me of looking for a safe place surrounded by nature. Thank you for the pictures of your paradise.


  2. Norfolk was not my choice for a place to live in retirement. I wanted to be near the sea, where we could afford a house within sound of the waves. Lincolnshire was the perfect option, but my wife is 10 years younger, and could not get a transfer there with her job. So we ended up in Beetley, 95 miles further south, and 20 miles from the coast. I can’t hear the sea, but I can hear the owls at night. It proved to be a good second choice.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. We are about 3 minutes from “Downtown Cambridge” (It’s very small) The sub-division we are in is called Coila. Why there are so many divisions of such a tiny place is beyond me! North Salem NY is south of Salem NY which also makes no sense. One just accepts these eccentricities!

  3. You know Carolyn, what is the most important sentence in your post? That last one where you said ‘I felt I had come home’ … that’s such a great thought. Being in the countryside and in nature must be a very satisfying feeling. And when I read what you have had to endure in your life, this is a well-deserved place for you and the cats. I love seeing places like Vermont through your eyes – you sure didn’t make a mistake getting a place of your own here!

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