Faith in Vermont: Take It Easy
My daughter stepped off of the school bus the other day, handed me her heavy backpack, and – as is her custom – made her way slowly up towards our house by walking on top of the rock wall alongside the driveway. As she neared her destination she stopped, dropped into a squat, and called the rest of us – her sisters and me – over. She’d discovered two inchworms hanging from their invisible filaments over the edge of a large rock. For the next ten minutes, two of my daughters remained there, transfixed, watching the two inchworms “race” up and down their threads.
This is the slow season: the college students have left and the Summer Language School students have yet to arrive. The grade school year is winding down, and the frenetic round of summer activities has yet to begin. Even the weather, with its muggy days, afternoon thunderstorms, and warm evenings that remain light for a few minutes longer every day, encourages us to walk more slowly, to linger over ice cream, to push back bedtime.
I realize that this is also the slow season of my life with children. These are the days when I can’t walk from one end of Main Street to the other without stopping to toss coins in the fountain at the foot of Merchants Row, without stopping on the Battell Bridge to stare at Otter Creek Falls (keeping a tight grip on my daughter as she leans out over the edge), without stopping to climb on the cannon in Cannon Park. We cannot enter or leave Ilsley Public Library without stopping by the adjoining garden to check on the “fairy stones” – colorful glass beads that somebody embedded in a cement block, which my daughters discovered several years ago near the book drop (see if you can find them!)
And now that I have an almost-two-year-old daughter who loves trucks, tractors, and construction equipment of any kind, we cannot enter or leave the library without checking on the progress of the new town offices being built next door. At present, the new town offices are a foundation wall and a large hole in the ground, but there’s plenty of machinery to ogle. Likewise, we cannot enter or leave the post office without walking over to monitor the progress of the new front steps that are being built for the Congregational Church.
In such a way, my days are subdivided into small moments of noticing.
It will not last, of course. All too soon the mosquitoes – already out in force – will chase us back inside. We will shuttle around town to camps and swim lessons. We will pack for vacations. And someday soon, I will probably walk with a daughter of mine from one end of Main Street to the other without stopping once.
I suppose I’ll get more done when that day comes. But the more days pass on my life, the more I find myself wondering how important it really is to get so much done.
This May, my husband watched the class of Middlebury College students graduate that had begun college during his first year as an assistant professor. Among these students were two of our daughters’ favorite swim teachers and a whole crop of students who’ve sat in the side pews of our church every Sunday for four years. And this past weekend, we celebrated the high school graduation of our of our favorite babysitters, who’s bequeathed upon our daughters four years’ worth of fun memories along with her princess clock, Disney CD player, and yards of beaded jewelry.
They are off to New York, Boston, D.C. They will get a lot of things done. But what I wish for them is that they will never get so busy that they stop noticing.
Faith Gong has worked as an elementary school teacher, a freelance photographer, and a nonprofit manager. Since moving to Addison County in 2011, her work has involved caring for a house in the woods, four young daughters, one anxiety-prone labradoodle — and writing for her blog, The Pickle Patch.