Balance

Leaving Vermont. What a thought! People leave places and go to new ones all the time, but this move, for me, feels momentous. I know I’m a bit late, but on this Thanksgiving weekend, I’m grateful for all that Vermont has taught me.

Without the structure of school and the semester system, it can be rather jarring to see your time laid out in front of you in one big endless chunk. No more built in vacations or changes of pace. It’s simultaneously exciting and completely terrifying. All of a sudden, it seems, you’re solely responsible for creating the life you want for yourself. It sounds like a good idea to get a steady job and climb the ladder rungs to a higher salary and more vacation time.

I was contemplating this one day and had a thought—what if I could manage to have a life I didn’t want a vacation from? What if I could find enough balance in my day-to-day life that I was entirely content and not anxiously awaiting 12 days paid vacation?

So what would this life look like? I’ve come to embrace the word “balance” as an overarching theme for this vision—if I can use that word loosely and refer to a slew of scattered and jumbled thoughts as a “vision.” I’d like to find balance between rural and urban. A balance of work and play. Activity and rest. Excitement and calm. A balance of technology and old fashioned pen and ink.

I want to work with my hands again and cultivate physical connection and contact with the land beneath my feet. One night in Burlington, I spent the better part of the evening collecting black walnuts from a neighbor’s yard. They stained my fingertips black for weeks and turned out to taste like chemicals, but I remembered something that night. Such incredible things come from the ground—a ground we stomp quickly across most days in an attempt to get onto the next activity. I couldn’t recall the last time I’d stopped to appreciate the ground and all it does for us.

I thought back to working barefoot and bare-kneed under the blueberry bushes at a farm job after graduation. I spent the summer tickling berries off their stems and into picking buckets that looked like large, obtrusive, and ugly fanny packs (but really, is there such a thing as a sexy fanny pack? I think not). But, they did the job. And I loved it.

Separated only by a row of plants, I found it easy to develop a strong sense of comradery with the people I worked with. Working outside all day, you tend to get to the good stuff fast (this is why weed dating seems like a great idea—you know, just like speed dating, you’d go on “dates” that last the length of the row and then switch partners once you reach the end). After a day or two in the fields, you know everyone’s entire life story, their quirks, what they eat for breakfast, and the complete history of their love life. There also comes a part in many summer farm days, usually around 2 or 3 pm, when you become a bit delirious from the sun. It’s nice because you usually reach this point at the same time your co-workers do and at that point, more off-color jokes ensue and everyone starts to get significantly weirder.

I miss those feelings that come with working the land and I’m looking forward to returning to it. As I get ready to leave Vermont, I’ve been thinking about the way I grew up and how eating from a garden and working outside was part of every single day. I lost track of that for a bit and I can’t wait to resume my post in the dirt. Yes, I’m leaving my beloved Green Mountain State. But I also feel like I’m coming home.

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