There’s No Place Like Lost

After absentmindedly trying the door handles of two other vehicles in the parking lot (because all vehicles in Vermont look the same), I am returning home from the local market.

It is one of those perfect late-spring/early-summer June days. Impossible blue skies with just enough clouds to make it believable. Countless shades of green lining the roads and flowers dotting the hillsides with color.

As I round the bend on River Road, I turn on some music, and the first song to play is Annie’s Song by John Denver. There has been something almost supernatural about this drive. Every time I find myself on this road, inevitably artists like Van Morrison, Bob Seger, Tom Petty, or James Taylor seem to hit the playlist.

As the music and the lyrics wrap around me, a 40-year-old memory floats up. One of my dad sitting cross legged in front of the stereo in our living room, headphones on, singing along to Annie’s Song just off-key. That was my first introduction to John Denver. The memory washes over me, and emotions well up. 

I pass Chamberlin Gardens, your go-to for sweet corn, pumpkins and hay… but only in August, September and October. Something to look forward to. I am beginning to understand the seasons of Vermont. 

But today, it is sixty-eight degrees with a light breeze. Windows rolled down, sunglasses on, I clear my head of all thoughts. I reach down and switch off the music. There is so much beauty here, and now there is nothing but the sounds of birds, and the wind in the tallest parts of the trees. 

Ahead of me, the green fields are decorated by so many different varieties of flowers that it looks like a cross between a child’s drawing (on a sunny day), and a Monet painting (in the rain). My grandmother would have wanted me to know all the names of these flowers and plants. I have taken pictures during my time here, and one by one, I hope to learn them.

Framing these fields are trees. I’ve seen thembefore. Bob Ross. Tattoos. The silhouette on a van or motor home. But here they are in real life. I realized early on that trying to take pictures of them would only do them a disservice. Again, countless varieties in what seems like infinite shades of green.

Looming in the background, watching over this scene, are the children of the Appalachian’s…theGreen Mountains. Draped in rich green tapestry and velvet, as if Mother Nature herself came to this very spot to design a gown. I feel like she rested on Mount Mansfield and decided to leave her emerald material as is. The dramatic folds and cool green textures subtly covering the rugged mountains.

There is no bad time of day to make this drive. Sunrise, sunset, rain, fog, bright sun… I am given such a gift of beauty that changes from moment to moment. I find myself taking drives along the winding dirt roads of this area with no place to go but lost. In fact, “lost” is one of my favorite destinations.

I keep my speed below the (already low) speed limit. I don’t want to kick up dust as I pass the grandmother pushing a stroller, the young couple riding their bikes, the woman walking her dog. It allows me time to dodge butterflies. I am in no hurry. I am in a place where time slows down.

I turn the radio back on, and Buffy Sainte-Marie begins singing “Helpless”.

The lyrics hit:
“Sweet comfort memory share
In my mind I still need a place to go
All my changes were there”

I feel a beautiful ache. A tender pull on my heart. Nature has found its way into my bloodstream, and without any other distractions, I am overwhelmed. The beauty is almost too much to take, and I begin to cry. Healing, emotional tears like a good therapy session.

At the garage door, I reach up to touch the button on the visor, and I grin as I realize this makes the third time I’ve pulled into this garage sobbing. And it is all right.


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