Apple Tree, Late Summer (WIP)  Vermont Era

Once upon a time, 2 decades plus/minus ago, I spent 2 years living in North-Central Vermont.  The Canadian Border is a mile or so past the farthest mountain.

This was the view from my upstairs bedroom in the house where I lived and also the view from my studio, which was under my room.  I never tired of this view.  It changed constantly and was most interesting to me.  I spent many an hour in all seasons just watching the changes.  Shifting light values and shadows caused by often rapid changes in the weather and the changing cloud patterns was the greatest feature.  I loved those 2 sturdy, hardy little apple trees at the end of the meadow in all seasons.  To me, they were good-natured no matter the temperature or weather conditions.

In all my life, I’ve never experienced 2 winters that were harder than those two in Vermont.  I use those 2 winters as my gold-standard when I find myself despising Winter and all there is about winter.  Those 2 still stand out as the bottom line on winter for me.    When I hear myself bitching, moaning, whining, complaining and clutched with fear as to how I’ll fare through this winter – how others will fare through the winter —  I ask myself where am I now on a scale of 1-10 as compared to either of those winters in Vermont. 

To me, my Vermont era was like the Tale of Two Cities – The Best of Times and the Worst of Times.  Who I was then was tested and strengthened by those 2 winters which are an intrinsic part of who I am now. 

I don’t have many paintings from that era but I do have many sketches in pencil, watercolor and oil.  For some reason – many reasons —  I quit journalizing for long periods of time during that era.  Somehow, I managed to keep up a reasonable Artist work schedule around the exigencies of my life and all that was going on around me but most of my record of that time is in my art work with very little in my writing.

My first winter in Vermont saw much snow and long periods of isolation from People.  I was living 5 miles from town, 3 miles up a mountain on a dirt road and in the winter, didn’t get to town for long periods of time.  My second winter in Vermont was the winter from Hell for me and everyone else in North Central Vermont.  Much snow, very low temperatures….  Hardship snow, extremely windy with extremely low temperatures. 

I started the above painting in early October – the autumn before the 2nd Winter – from the window of my studio.  This was during a ‘best of times’ part of living in Vermont.  There were so many of those moments I couldn’t begin to list them all – equally balanced by ‘worst of times’ moments. 

In mid-January that 2nd winter, the snow was so high on the part of the studio roof that jutted out from the house that part of the studio roof caved in and I had to fish-out all my stuff from a pile of broken glass that had been windows in room that had been 8’ high before the cave-in, now reduced to 3’ high.  Damn near broke my heart….


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8 Responses to

  1. beetleypete says:

    Such a tale of hard winters Gretchen. I only ever had one like that, in London, in the ‘famous winter’ of 1963, and I was still a youngster.
    The tree painting is so good, I can smell the blossom!
    Regards and Happy New Year, from England, Pete.

  2. Kathy says:

    You are making me wonder if this winter will be that hard for us, Gretchen. It has been bitterly cold this December. Wondering if you’d been connected via the Internet with blogging if you’d have felt better during the more challenging times. Thank you for sharing your painting and story of this time.

    • So far, this winter looks to be a hard one; we’ve had many days of Arctic temps since before Thanksgiving. Right now we’re looking at more bitter cold and a few snow storms.

      During the course of the 2nd winter in Vermont I went out to dinner one night and met a guy who told me about the Internet and eBay which seemed wildly exciting and fraught with possibilities and also gave me a goal. I got a grant for a computer class from the State of VT that spring and after some more adventures and moving back to CT, getting a job and a computer, I was online by late May ’95. Internet and blogging may have helped then but internet wasn’t widely known or available for a year or 2 after this.
      Internet and blogging sure does help now, although for those 2 years in VT, there sure was a lot of letter writing between me and my friends, so I wasn’t completely cut off.

      Thanks for your comment, Kathy and Happy New Year to You. I hope you fare well through this up-coming winter.

      • Kathy says:

        I don’t remember what year I was on-line, but DO remember I didn’t start blogging until maybe 2005. And not on wordpress until late 2008. Thinking fondly of letter writing right now.

  3. Thanks so much for visiting and liking my blog. I’m so happy to discover your blog and your art. I love your writing and storytelling.

  4. candidkay says:

    An old colleague and friend tried living in an old farmhouse in Vermont. The stories he tells! He’s back in Seattle and civilization but he does miss the quiet beauty:)

    • Overall, despite the sometimes fearsome hardships, my life in Vermont was a wonderful experience. Life slowed down to the point where I sat still and became intensely aware. One thing I miss is that quiet beauty and living close to mountains and forests. I don’t miss the winters; they’re bad enough in CT.

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