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Clippings: Absence adds spark to local vistas

I recently realized that I don’t appreciate the smell of freshly spread manure enough.
I didn’t suddenly decide that I love the odor, but I have discovered the scent a reminder of home and of the beautiful landscape around me, a landscape that I have not appreciated fully until recently.
I attend college outside of Boston, which is a considerable change in scenery from what I see here in Addison County. Down there I don’t have the same views of rolling mountains and green pastures and the smell of manure is nowhere to be found.
Growing up in Middlebury, I appreciated my surroundings on some level, but focused largely on other things like school and sports. I definitely missed much of the natural beauty surrounding me. I was used to seeing the same sights every day and took the landscape for granted.
Now that I’m home for the summer after my second year of college, my eyes have opened more to the benefits of the Addison County landscape. When I’m not at work, I have been trying to spend time enjoying and exploring the natural pastimes the county has to offer.
My friend and I kayaked on the Otter Creek in Vergennes a few weeks ago and I found myself repeatedly thinking how beautiful it was. Trees curved over the river banks and washed-out roots formed delicately twisted sculptures.
My dad, sister and I went up to the Robert Frost trail about a month or so ago, something we hadn’t done in years. The trail had changed somewhat from what I remembered because of Tropical Storm Irene. Despite that, we still enjoyed a quiet, relaxing walk through the woods, picking out different species of trees and plants as we went along. We were just close enough to the river that we could almost always pick out the steady sound of running water.
I recently went hiking with my family on Snake Mountain and stopped frequently to take pictures. I noticed how the sunlight highlighted the fresh green of the trees and the small, bright flowers along the path. It was such a clear day that when we reached the top we could easily see over to the Adirondacks and take in the patchwork quilt of fields and farmland below us.
I’ve also been to Branbury Beach on Lake Dunmore a few times now and find myself admiring the lake’s dramatic setting near the base of mountains.
I sit out on our deck more often than ever before to enjoy gentle summer breezes and take in pink and golden sunsets. At night, I watch for fireflies and bats.
I like tending our garden, picking our lettuce and eggplants and pulling weeds. I feel so refreshed when I work in the garden on a quiet evening with that summer breeze blowing.
Even when I get up at 6 a.m. to work out by the college, I always like seeing the mountains off in the distance on a clear day.
This isn’t to say I don’t like being near Boston. I do love the area. For starters, our campus is stunning. We have a lake teeming with different species of birds. A walkway surrounds the lake, providing a calm, quiet place to take a break from the stress of coursework. Trees bloom into pink and white in the spring. In Boston, it’s fun to stroll around the Common or North End and I’m always happy to find myself in Fenway Park or the TD Garden. But Boston is generally considered more exciting than Middlebury, so I think I went into the area expecting something special and new, expecting to see that striking city skyline.
I did spend the summer after my freshman year back here in Middlebury, but still didn’t quite appreciate what was around me. Apparently it takes two years away from home filled with papers, midterms, projects and exams to really see that I’m lucky to have grown up in Addison County and to have the chance to spend my summer here.
So when I’m driving out to Bridport on Route 125 and a potent wave of manure wafts my way, you won’t find me complaining.

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