Archive | June, 2015

Vermont: Heart, Soul, Past, Present, Future: The Collapsing Barn.

8 Jun

Vermont: Heart, Soul, Past, Present, Future: The Collapsing Barn..

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Vermont: Heart, Soul, Past, Present, Future: The Collapsing Barn.

8 Jun

gulls on surfboard

Vermont green fieldFrom Sandy Southern California to Lush Green Vermont,

from My New Home of Play and Pay to My Old Home of Rest and Pray

from the City of Angels to No City of Any Kind…this land is the land of Me and Me. 

 Sandalled feet in BH

Like most people, I’ve got various homes–places where I feel as if “I belong.” How many do you have, Dear Reader?  Probably I have  too many: since I haven’t settled on one, it may be a sign that I do not  belong anywhere.

I feel at home in Santa Monica: 90 degrees, surrounded by the siren song of waves crashing, palm trees rustling, and skateboards rolling, but I am equally at home in tiny Fairlee, Vermont, where there isn’t a car or human in sight, where when they say “God’s Country,” they mean he’s right there–in the deep green grass, or spread throughout the wide-open milky  sky, or sunk in the dark eyes of the cow staring at you.

My stepmother Cleo lives in Fairlee,  and I’ve had the pleasure of spending countless summer days there since I was a teenager. Last week I went to Fairlee because my stepmother (what a misnomer–she’s been a mother, sister, and spiritual guide) was in the hospital.CLEO

It wasn’t “serious,” as in one of THOSE things that usually kill people, but it was serious. So I visited her at the Dartmouth hospital, 45 minutes away from Fairlee–and by all accounts, a MAGNIFICENT hospital. (I’d been there once before when at 18 months Noah had the croup, and Noah’s dad and I drove to the ER in the middle of the night.)  But, generally I hate hospitals, and I was upset to see Cleo not feeling herself. She was getting good care, aside from the fact that the doctors who were forty years younger than she were talking to her like she was a kindergartner (Don’t get me started).

When I wasn’t at the hospital, I drove and walked around Fairlee, and encountered the landscape in that blank, lost way you look at a place when you’re alone and thinking about the past, present, future.

Vermont barn with cows

Vermont Golden hillThere was beautiful (California-like) weather that week, and after being in the hospital a few hours each day, I’d return to walk the dog, and make a little food. But I couldn’t stay in the house alone. It was too quiet without Cleo.

Vermont Cleo's house

So I wandered. I was surprised to find that, just as in Beverly Hills, parking is an issue:

Vermont, no parking

It cheered me to see that a black cat still maintains her reign of the counter at tiny and wondrous Chapman’s Store–a place that has been around since the 1950’s, and that makes a sacrament of the word “sundries”: old-fashioned children’s games, homemade chocolate,  cards,  soap,and jewelry…the cat sleeps, and rules.

Vermont Affair CAT.jp

It cheered me when Cleo’s sister Deecie returned from her West Coast home, and I spent a night at her house with its beautiful land and pond.

Vermont Deecie's pond

Most of all, it cheered me when Cleo got out of the hospital; that night  she ate a little salmon I cooked, and then we watched three episodes of West Wing–which strangely and embarrassingly, I’d never seen. In the morning the beautiful, ghostly Fairlee Church (where once I was married) was glowing in a blue/white light.

Vermont church

(Like I said, it’s God’s country, and he doesn’t mince words.)

Cleo was on her feet, and I had to return to Los Angeles, another coast and realm of expectation that couldn’t be more dissimilar from Fairlee. On the way out, I took a picture of a barn in a state of collapse.

Vermont collapsing barn

Hardly even a structure anymore, it had become a new thing, something fluid, melting into nature.

“How long has it been like that?” I asked Cleo, clicking shots of the barn on my phone.

“I’ve watched it for years,” she said, not answering the question.

I got back into the car, and we wound our way down the empty road, through slow, silent green. Time was all around us, and though it was slow, I knew we had to rush to get to the airport in New Hampshire–two hours away.

I wanted to stay. And I wanted to leave. We got to the airport on time, and I got back to my life in L.A. on time, and Cleo got back home to Fairlee safe and sound. It’s been a few days, and I keep thinking about the barn. Half-up, half-down. Half in-half out.

Keep watching.