Pirates’ Trip Home, Vermont Edition
I was conceived in Vermont. In a place called Silly Village, the fateful night when my parents decided to turn down an offer for a partner swap. What? It was the 70s. I’ve traveled all through Vermont. Vermont is my favorite state. And, lest I forget to mention, I got chased by a moose in Vermont.
So how awesome is it that my sweet darling dear Vermont sister and her family live here, giving me a wonderful excuse to come and visit a beautiful state so rich in odd personal history? Not to mention that Vermont is just wacky, all on its own. The last time Vermont made national news it was because some dude drove his tractor on down to the station and used it to crush a row of police cars.
The last time I saw Sy and her partner Adam (and the first time I met their beautiful boy Xan), I wrote this: Arrival, on my Blue Ox blog. Give it a gander for background.
This is what Xan looked like when I met him.
This is what Xan looked like when I saw him next.
(Legend has it that there’s a beast with red fur roaming the Vermont wilderness, who answers to the call, “Xan Xan the Monkey Man”.)
Here they are, my Vermont family, on their sweet little wedge of woodsy land.
Where’s Rocky? Oh, there she is up that tree.
… and that one.
Sy presented Ry with one of our family’s old treasures, a book from the 70s by an old family friend, Dahlov Ipcar. This is one of my favorites: One Horse Farm.
Sy read to Ry …
Adam read to Ry …
Ry read to Xan …
and everybody read to each other. We’re a family that reads, if you hadn’t noticed.
From there the visit descended to chaos, with hiding…
(spot the redheaded monkey)
(I want a l’il plastic chainsaw…)
…and more hiding.
It was a short visit, but so, so sweet. As we wandered away, heading back to Kentucky, I smiled through tears at the rolling Green mountains as they passed by. I felt full up on love and family, and more solid than I had in years. How incredibly lucky am I, despite the geographical distance, to have such a beautiful, colorful, extraordinary family to come home to every year?
January 11, 2010
In the tiny wooden dirt road cabin, negative a million just beyond the frosty window, Sy and I sip hot tea smelling of cigarettes and pine, black as squid ink and delicious to few. We share a sense of comfort in the automated, eternally unchanging voice on the weather radio, enjoy Ira Glass and Science Friday on NPR, together detest Prairie Home Companion. “Garrison Keillor is an arrogant fucking prick”. Amen. We are a church of two.
My hands hug my smelly warm mug, my knees up and stocking feet against her thigh, Sy with her nursing pillow, feeding that lovely red-hair baby. A sister and I, catty corner on the couch. We’ve been right here, just like this, for two days, but who’s counting, in this Vermont-deep winter?
Leaning back, in the twinkle of her Jewish Christmas tree, Sy delights me with stories of her home state’s legal oddities. Public nudity is legal, an occasional draw for Jersey perverts. Gay marriage is legal, because well of course, WTF? George Bush is illegal, that war-crimes hater, and Vermont will arrest him. I fucking love Vermont.
Sy interprets biblical texts, reads sci-fi and eats raw philosophy on whole grain bread. Also has a thing for breaded chicken patties. In the event of chicken patty toxic apocalypse, eat a Christian Scientist – no one else is FDA approved. We’ve claimed her, Mom and I, Mom who should be with us on this couch, but who may skip the cigarette tea; Mom grounded in far-away Philly, the weather indifferent to her desire to meet the baby, her grandson with sky eyes. Mom says Sy is a misplaced zygote. Who’s counting? With us, love is thick as blood.
Rough around the edges, bare-plank-walled, heavy snow boot, crocheted, hand hewn, bare-bones poor, wind-chilled white, compost socialist Sy.
And now, Mama to a strawberry boy, in sweet shades of his gentle Papa, a Vermont maple-tapped snow boy with poplar legs and sky eyes. Sy in her lovely, lovely life, watching the winter wind dance the cold bare branches of the outside.
Large and rolling, thick brown braid, solid legs strong hands big feet Sy. She has traveled the world, learned the language of chili and saffron, seen the view from the psycho side of barred windows, built dwellings for her heart. She has dipped her fingers into fragile serenity, plunged into midnights of wrenching grief and electric-shock body-bag loss, raised herself over and over and over.
Together on this couch with our dank drink and our new boy, it’s like there was never a time without this moment. It will be hard to leave. Dust to ice, Appalachia to the Green Mountains, we are family. I claim you, sister.