I like to choose a soundtrack to each blog to accompany the writing. I try to choose music that I feel captures the essence of or is linked to the theme I am writing about. If like me, you are moved by music and would like to listen as you read please scroll to the end and press play. Enjoy 🙂
With a dip of my toe I feel the warmth of the shallow waters and observe the tiny minnows darting below the surface around my feet. Encircled by rich green forrest and dense shrubbery, the water reflects an emerald green in the morning light. The clear, empty, lake stretching out in front of me feels like a seductive offering.
As I inch my way forwards the water starts to get cooler, which is a welcome respite from the morning’s sweaty hike. Eventually going for it, I submerge myself up to my neck and start paddling; like a true water baby I feel my whole body come to life. The water is so unbelievably invigorating, sliding over my skin like silk. There is something about swimming in a fresh water lake without the restriction of a bathing suite that is so completely liberating. My friend jokes that I’m ‘such a Californian at heart’, and whilst that may or may not be true, for now physically I am in Vermont, swimming freely, unabashed in a lake, basking in the morning sunlight.
I am surrounded by what can only be described as complete and utter natural beauty and there is no noise other than the sound of my splashing and the birds tweeting. Just like the water lapping at my skin, a wave of gratitude washes over me, cleansing me both physically and ethereally. I think to myself ‘this is what freedom feels like’ – quite fitting for a state with the motto ‘freedom and unity’.
It is a Monday morning and i’m a little south of Middlebury, Vermont with a dear friend and soul sister I met during my travels in Latin America almost 6 years ago. We’ve just hiked up a trail and now i’m skinny dipping in the lake whilst she sits quietly at the water’s edge. The whole experience is so extraordinarily nourishing.
Nourishment, unpretentiousness and simplicity. If I had to describe Vermont in three words these are what they would be.
Whilst everyone’s experience of a place is unique to them, for myself and perhaps other like-minded folk, Vermont provides nourishment for the body, mind and soul. For the body, in the form of food; think freshly picked blueberries from your Airbnb host’s garden, maple syrup made from the sap of the maple tree outside, sharing slices of Vermont cheddar with a Rutland local over a bottle of red wine and chowing down on blueberry zucchini cake in a local Burlington Cafe.
Nourishment for the mind in terms of the space Vermont provides for thinking and feeling. Space that one just can’t access in the daily grind of city life. Space to engage in quieter activities like reading or simply sitting in meditative contemplation.
Nourishment for the soul is provided by the intense natural beauty of this state and the opportunities to engage in wholesome activities like hiking, yoga, swimming and skiing. The chance to observe and appreciate the changing colours of the trees in the fall, warming oneself with cup after cup of locally brewed apple cider, sharing glasses of wine in front of a burning log fire and skiing the mountains of Killington and the glades of Jay Peak in winter and spring – a few examples of some of my favourite memories of the Green Mountain State.
The strong vibe of self sufficiency here is partly responsible for Vermont’s unpretentiousness. ‘Local’ for Vermonters is more of a way of life than being ‘hip’ or ‘cool’ or a method to hike up the price of groceries like it is in the major US cities. Just like the food, its yoga is also humble and unassuming, more focus on breath and chanting than fashion or body sculpting. Mason jars were sold in the local markets here long before it became a universal trend. There is an element of effortlessness here, Vermont doesn’t try to be cool, it just is cool, for anyone that chooses to spend time here and connect to it.
Lastly Vermont’s simplicity calls out as another essential quality. Vermont for me feels like getting back to basics. It’s leaving the worries and anxiety of previous days, weeks, month and years behind and returning to an original state and way of being. It is being present with your experience because there is simply nothing to be distracted by and nowhere else to be. For me at least, its essence is so pure it helps awaken my intuition and connect with nature on a deeper level.
Take the first place I ever stayed in Vermont as an example – a house in the middle of the woods just outside of Lincoln. The home had been made out of local timber chopped down from the forest nearby. The house was beautiful and full of rustic charm but there was an eerie quality to it too. Perhaps it was because it was fall and as soon as the sun went down we were obscured by the darkness of the forest. There were no blinds on the windows and not being able to see outside I always felt like I was being watched. That first night falling asleep was difficult, my sleep was light and broken and my dreams were intense and unusually vivid. When I told my hosts the next day they said they had also experienced the same thing, as well as the other guests they had had to stay. I later found out that their theory was the intense dreams were the trees way of telling us they were not happy about being chopped down and made into a house and the forest was now weary of its visitors. The nature tells its own powerful story here and it is available to those who choose to observe it and heed its messages.
Each season in Vermont has delivered me its delights however, it is this most recent trip in particular that felt very significant. Perhaps it is my intense craving of late for solitude and quietness, connection to nature, slowing down and becoming more intentional about how I conduct my daily life. Perhaps it is because I am going through some major life changes and the water felt so cleansing, washing away the old to make way for the new. Or perhaps it is the connection to my friend who allows me the space to be myself fully, who listens without judgement, with whom I never run out of stimulating conversation and whose company leaves me feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Or maybe right now Vermont is the perfect compliment to the ongoing theme of this year which feels like getting back to basics, returning to my roots and journeying home.
I know I will continue to visit, this is an ongoing love affair with no expiration date.
I love these melodic beats. Song credit: 10 Laws, East Forest.