Chicken soup for the new Vermonter’s soul

Yesterday afternoon, as we made our way back down the driveway from an errand run, and turned the final corner that approaches the Clearing, we startled a moose feeding on aquatic vegetation from the pond bottom. For a split second, as she rose from the pond, we didn’t comprehend what we were seeing. A moose! I didn’t have time to pick up my camera from the floor of the car, but we had several seconds to soak up a full view of this magnificent, long-legged creature, maybe only fifteen feet away, as she loped down the driveway to escape into the woods. I have to say, it is the closest I have ever been to a real, live moose. I knew they were good-sized animals, probably from visits to the Springfield museum in Western Mass with my parents and sister when we were little kids, but didn’t really understand until yesterday the palpability of their heft. (Surely the taxi-dermed version was less imposing.) She moved with such gangling grace, I was overcome with awe. Ask Eric. I have been yearning for a moose sighting since we first visited the Clearing as owners last October. Almost every day that we have been here, he might ask, “See any Meeses out there, LoveBug?” (“Meeses” being our silly Wahlberg plural for moose, of course), and I might reply, “Nope, nary a meese to be seen.”  Like the deer, they never appear when you expect them, or wish for them. So far, all we had as proof they even existed in our woods, was the occasional “Meesies’ feces” sighting. I suppose this is another lesson in just letting things happen as they happen.

Although Eric and I both feel pretty content right now to just be here on our land at the Clearing, we have been exploring the surrounding ‘hood a bit lately, on long, winding drives down unfamiliar roads that turn up little gems, like organic farms where we can buy veggies, eggs, milk, cheese, and farm-raised meats. Eric, being pretty much ova-lacto-pesco vegetarian for going on 40 years now, suggested roasting a broiler hen on Sunday for dinner, if we could find one that was local, range free and organic.  We found one at the Plainfield Coop (for you city folk, that’s “Co-op,” a store, not “coop,” a pen for chickens), and roasted it for dinner with potatoes and onions. One of my favorite childhood memories is chicken roasting on a Sunday afternoon, the aroma like balm, optimistic and promising. Our chicken dinner was divine, and so was lunch on Monday – Eric had a chicken sandwich and I made a chicken salad for myself with arugula, tomato and avocado, drizzled with balsamic reduction and a sprinkling of feta crumbles. Tuesday afternoon we made chicken noodle soup from the carcass and the leftover meat. Another favorite of mine from my childhood. I make it like my mom’s, simple, with lots of garlic and onion, herbs and a few spices. Warm and comforting. Chicken soup feels like love to me. Funny thing to say, but it’s true. And it is a pretty well-known fact that the combination of garlic and chicken broth has strong anti-biotic and anti-viral qualities. “It’ll cure what ails ya.” I have made chicken soup over the years whenever someone in my family has gotten sick. Even Robyn, who is not a meat-eater, asks for it when she catches a cold. The organic, local, 5 lb chicken we bought cost $18.  Expensive, I know, but we got three good meals out of it, with zero hormones or pesticides, and lots of happy chicken vibes, since it was raised with love and care.


An evening walk down our mile-long driveway. Good exercise – uphill for the first third of the way, and just when you really start huffing, it graciously levels out. The poodles love it, although we have to keep a close eye on Mikey. He is turning out to be quite the “woodsdog” who likes to run ahead and venture into the wilds. Apparently, he takes after his woodsman dad. (Okay, okay, we admit it! We are the sickeningly sappy “parents” of two Vermont toy poodles.)

The house beckons through the trees as we approach home.

Honey Bun, studying his arial photo of the Clearing, as I prepare dinner.


7 thoughts on “Chicken soup for the new Vermonter’s soul

  1. Patti, when Michael and I were on our Maine honeymoon, my most persistent hope was a moose sighting. We caught a glimpse of the hindquarter of one in New Hampshire, before we got to Maine. We heard what we thought was a moose off of a road near Moosehead Lake, but we never did see one. And, of course, we’ve taken several trips since, daydreaming about retirement and scouting potential locations (we still keep coming back to the Farmington area as our favorite). But no moose sightings. And I totally agree that there is just nothing else quite like the smell of a roasting chicken.

  2. Ellen, I just read it, and all I can say is, “Wow.” What an amazing poem. I bow in deference. I kiss her bootstraps! Thank you for sharing that.

  3. Steve – if you are referring to hot weather, so far it has averaged around 65 – 75 degrees, some days sunny, some rainy. It’s been gorgeous. We’ll see what July brings. After that, thinking things will begin to cool a bit in August, as we are so far north. We’ll see.

Leave a Comment