|Snowdrops in England|
My father is the first generation in seven to live away from Rome, New York. My mother is the only person in her sprawling German clan to have left Cincinnati in five generations other than Great-great Aunt Millie, who headed for the ocean breezes and orange groves of southern California. Vermont fortunately called to both of my parents, and I grew up with the kind of childhood most Vermonters treasure, running wild in the nearby woods and valuing our neighbors.
I never knew how close I came to having to leave it behind till many years later. Apparently, when I was about eleven years old, my father was offered the position of chair of the pediatric department in Cooperstown, New York-- a chance to go back near his roots. He loved the idea, but my even-keeled, mild-mannered mother uncharacteristically put her foot down and told my father that if he left Vermont, he was leaving without her. My mother's passion for Vermont has become a part of me.
As a kid, I took for granted that my mother walked around with field guides, learning the names to birds and flowers and trees she had not grown up with, and that she tried out local foods and traditions. She walked my younger brother and I over for frequent visits to see the seventh generation farmer, Eudy Thomas, who lived over on Sugar Hill. She kept an ongoing daily calendar recording the "firsts" of every month and season. It never occurred to me that she was learning right along beside me.
I left Vermont for four years to live in the United Kingdom, a place which I love and which continues to call to me. While there, I only began to feel happy and settled once I too could predict the annual migrations of birds, and to know if the snowdrops had come early or late in a given spring. Even then, I longed for Vermont mud. My British husband has come to Vermont, and he feels at home here; it is part of New England, after all. And yet I understand when he is longing for Dorsetshire mud (water on clay), or even days filled with rapid-moving clouds. In our own love affair, we need to find ways to tie the old and new countries together, and to know that Britain is a place we're always returning to and within us, even as we're at home in Vermont. -- Jenny Land