Reading, writing, shopping, hunting, shooting (in no particular order)

Shopping is the elixir of a woman’s soul. I’m not talking about shopping for shoes or purses or dresses, although there are scores of women out there who would have me tarred and feathered and tethered to the nearest pole in the town square (wearing shoes that did not match my purse, of course) as an example of a Complete Abomination to Womankind for making such a proclamation. For me, however, clothing and accessory shopping has always been a keenly mixed-emotional affair – an immediate high when finding the “perfect” item, sort of like a small dose of the oxytocin euphoria of falling in love – the outfit or shoes that seem to transform you from dumpy to stunningly statuesque in an instant, or the purse that is the epitome of chic AND carries everything you could possibly ever need or want in life. But so often for me, buyer’s remorse soon ensues as these items quickly lose their luster (like that professor you had a mad crush on in college, only to discover when you looked more closely that you might be able to braid his nose hairs). The dress that transformed you into a long and lanky Audrey Hepburn in the dressing room mirror, now makes you look slightly reminiscent of the Pillsbury Doughboy. Shoes that floated on air at the shoe store, blister your feet the first time you stroll more than two blocks in them.  I have spent way too much money in my life on supposedly fabulous things that ended up mostly in my closet, unused or unworn, hanging in the dark, fading to mediocrity. I gave away about two-thirds of my wardrobe when we got ready to transition to the Clearing.

Recently, on my Thanksgiving grocery shopping trip to the Hunger Mountain Co-op in Montpelier, followed by a stop on the way home at the smaller co-op in Plainfield and finally a visit to Hollister Hill Farm to pick up our T-Day chicken, it occurred to me: the kind of shopping that truly uplifts me, energizes me, excites and warms me to the depths of my soul, is shopping for the staples and ingredients needed to concoct comforting, aromatic and yummy meals for my loved ones. Although there may have been a few, right this second I cannot recall a single moment of buyer’s remorse when it comes to picking out the ingredients for a special dinner, or an assortment of healthy and satisfying tidbits for snacks and appetizers. (Okay, maybe a wee bit of guilt when a bag of Lay’s Potato Chips somehow sneaks its evil little salty-fatty way into one of my bags – BAD CHIPS! – but even then, aren’t we all entitled to an occasional guilty pleasure? Please say yes.)

Life here feels simpler. Of course, we are semi-retired, so that helps. While we are here, we do have to work, preparing for our next busy season of trainings in Sunny California, and Eric has worked gigantically hard chopping down trees and splitting wood to prepare the mile-long driveway for winter (he’s lost about 15 pounds!) – but being a woodsman feels more like fun than work to “Grizzly Wahlberg the Mountain Man.” And my mountain man has also been contracted to write a book, titled “Activated Sludge Treatment: Control and Optimization” (the plot thickens), which will be work, but now that the road is prepared and the snow is soon to fly, we figure we will hunker in and spend a good amount of time this winter logging in some word counts each day by the propane stove (I have some writing to attend to, myself), until we head back to California in mid-January. In the meantime, we’ll write, go for our daily constitutional up the driveway with the poodles (they LOVE the walk), write, look for deer and moose, avoid getting shot by hunters, write, prepare delicious dinners, then read by the fire until bedtime. Oldfartsville? Maybe. But although we still have a lot of life left in us, we ain’t no spring chickens, anymore. Oldfartsville is our kinda town.

I mentioned hunters. Yes, they are here, in all their glorious regalia. According to the Vermont Constitution, hunters are allowed to hunt any private property that has not been posted, which this land has never been, and so they come. We’ve seen a couple of trucks parked along the driveway as the hunters walk our woods. We’ve heard some gunshots. We always wear our hunter-orange vests when outdoors, especially on our daily walks. The other morning, as we prepared to sit down to breakfast, a tall, heavily-bearded young man came trudging down our driveway right in front of our house, dressed from head to toe in camo, with a rifle strapped to his back—looking very strapping, imposing and soldier-esque. He walked by our side windows and proceeded into the back woods.  It was a little unnerving. Next year we plan to post our land. Sorry, guys. But the deer and moose will thank us! And after our land is posted, we plan to forage into the woods ourselves, set up some “stands” in preparation for some shooting of our own – with my Canon T3i.



Every day we watch the ice thicken.  (We are easily entertained?)


No matter her seasonal adornments, the pond is a wonder.






I love the contrasting color schemes of each season. Even November, with its bare trees, and shades from a much more subtle palette, has its own brand of soft, often stark, beauty.


Two very proud woodsmen: Grizzly Wahlberg and neighbor Anthony, who is earning money (and some firewood) helping us out. Pictured here, only about a third of the wood they cut and split. They deserve a pale ale!




Time to turn around and head back down the mile-long driveway. My favorite part of the walk! All downhill from here.


Evening reading hour by the fire. (The poodles always fall asleep reading – wimps!)






4 thoughts on “Reading, writing, shopping, hunting, shooting (in no particular order)

  1. You are so absolutely right about grocery shopping. And there’s a different experience for me with the size of the store. The larger ones are great for variety but don’t have the cozy, neighborhoodiness of the smaller stores, where you get to know the checkers’ faces.

    And I don’t think I’ve ever had that feeling of transformation into Audrey Hepburn from trying on anything. The older I get, the more I really just almost despise clothes shopping. I never really found it enjoyable — certainly not a recreational activity. I like finding a bargain, but that alone doesn’t surpass having to stand there and look at the mirror and (nowadays) recognize that things will never again fit the way they used to. I’m mostly O.K. with that — I just don’t like being reminded of it by looking in the mirror. Truly, if I could be certain that things would fit, I’d do every last bit of clothing shopping by mail.

    By the way, the woodpile is very impressive.

  2. Tell Grizzly Wahlberg that John & I are very impressed with his “woodworking.” I am so happy for you that you have found such a wonderful refuge from this crazy world we live in. I think as we age (like fine wine, natch!), the simpler things in life, a calmer, saner version of daily living without all the cacophony in the background, is so much more appealing to the body, mind and spirit, don’t you? God bless you both in this beautiful new life you are building together with your poodle children….and keep the writing coming!

  3. Thank you both for your comments. This really is a good life. And I agree, Maureen – this simpler and quieter and slower passage feels like a perfect fit. I feel very fortunate to be able to be here.

    Dawn, I have never thought I was transformed into Audrey Hepburn, either, not even close – gross exaggeration is my writing forte. Ha. But I HAVE (albeit, probably not in quite a few years) thought something looked pretty good on me in the store, only to get home and catch a load of myself in the full length mirror, and exclaim, “What on earth was I thinking??” But for the most part, dressing room mirrors under fluorescent overhead lighting seem to accentuate every single flaw, causing me to want to run screaming from the store. They would probably make a lot more sales if they lit dressing rooms with soft, buttery candlelight, and gave you a glass of wine on the way in.

  4. I also agree about the size of the store, Dawn. How I love shopping the Vermont co-ops, as opposed to large super markets. I get all warm and fuzzy and never want to leave!

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