UP THE HAYSTACK

 

Neither of us had ever climbed a mountain. True, there are metaphorical mountains that we (all) face on what seems to be a daily basis, but this one was real—made of earth, sticks, and stones; piled nearly 2000 feet high. Haystack Mountain has been on our To Do List ever since we arrived in Vermont. It's a beautiful mountain. Its slopes are steep and dotted with trees, situated prominently at the end of a ridge that looms above the town of Pawlet. At some point during nearly every day that we have spent here, we have remarked about Haystack, resolved to summit our favorite local landmark. Yet our ascent was delayed by a quizzical rash of rain and snow on our days off, bookended by pristine, sun-splashed days on the farm. March passed, and most of April too—our return to Ohio (and Greece) rapidly approaching.

During those days and weeks we did not spend climbing Haystack, we spent gaining a real sense of calling on the farm. Strangely—at least strangely to two family-obsessed Ohioans—Consider Bardwell Farm began to feel like a home. It revealed itself as a place where we could grow and learn about a craft, a lifestyle, and ourselves. So we suddenly found ourselves faced with a new mountain: the desire to stay in Vermont.

How could we? It was a question both literal and open-ended. Literal in the respect that, when we arrived, there were no prospects for us to stay on in a permanent role. We were (and are) Kidding Interns: positions confined to a two-month period when kids are being born on the farm. But that changed in an exciting and startling way when we began discussing an extended internship. Then we began discussing becoming permanent employees. It was at that point that it became more open-ended: how could we do this? How could we move away from our families that we love so much, around whom our lives revolve? That is a question for which we simply do not have the answer.

So we are going to start climbing. We have resolved to face the mountain and seek its summit. We are going to stay in Vermont and learn how to manage a farm. We will learn how to manage a young marriage away from family. We will pledge allegiance to the land on which we stand, grounded in the knowledge that we do stand on the same earth that our loved ones do, only many miles away. It is both heartbreaking and exhilarating. Neither of us have ever felt so purpose driven before as we do now. 

We reached the top Haystack Mountain on a Monday afternoon so clear that we could look upon the Adirondacks and the shores of Lake Champlain, turn around, and view mile after mile of the Green Mountain National Forest. After a steep stretch of craggy trail—a challenge nowhere near insurmountable, but nevertheless worthy of heavy breathing and sweat on our brows—the view at the top was worth the effort. And so, we will keep trying, keep climbing.


—M