Reflection On My Own Vermont Experience
We live in an amazing land! And no part of it is more magical than Vermont. I have often said I currently live in the flattest, brownest, power-line laden region of our country. Might be true. But might also just be that the “grass is greener on the other side.” I do, however, find it very easy to appreciate travels to other, astounding parts of our country.
This fall, I will return to Vermont. Vermont holds a special place in my life. My mother’s sister met and married a farmer from Vermont in the early 1950’s. Her family emmigrated from Germany and England, to Michigan. My uncle’s family were New Englanders – probably originally from England. They met in Puerto Rico (on a farm run by Christian missionaries to teach the local residents modern farming techniques). Aunt Laura was a graduate of Michigan State University; Michigan’s Land Grant Agricultural school. Uncle Holden Doane attended the University of Vermont which was – likewise – Vermont’s Land Grant University and Agriculture School.
Holden grew up on the family farm in Bakersfield, Vermont and has seldom been far from there (in 2006 he and I discussed the irony that I have seen much more of his home state of 80+ years than he has).
Laura was a city girl. Vermont was 1000 miles from home. She moved, and became a Vermonter, serving as town clerk, church elder, and farm accountant and co-manager. That is all (perhaps) interesting background. It may have little to do with photography. But I believe that it gives my hopefully unique photographic vision some perspective.
In 1969, as an 11-year old, I spent my first summer on the dairy farm. I returned every summer after that, through High School, spending 6 summers on my Aunt and Uncle’s farm, and another summer on his brother’s farm, a few miles up the road. Following my first year of community college in Michigan, I returned to the brother’s farm and stayed on for a full year before returning to school at Vermont Technical College. During those years, I learned a lot about the Northwest part of the state, including climbing Mt. Mansfield several times, bicycling over Smuggler’s Notch one time (don’t know how we made it), beach visits to Lake Carmi, shopping trips to Burlington, floating on the Lamoille River, and hiking on my uncle’s 400 acres of mountain forest. But I didn’t carry a camera, and took most of those memories and views for granted. I have a couple distinct “woods on fire” memories of sunlit foliage, but none were captured as permanent images.
In 1977, while attending Vermont Technical College, I went through a contemplative time and met my first mentor/inspiration, Vermont Technical College Professor John Knox. That began my photographic adventure. I have since been back to Vermont 3 times to try to re-capture some of those images.
Sometime in 1980, I moved back to Michigan, which has become my permanent home again. I will not likely ever return to Vermont as anything other than a visitor, but it still feels like “coming home,” each time I do.