What Vermont Meant To Me

Blog pic house viewVermont was a place for my husband and I to land and regroup after what felt like a failed attempt to relocate to Costa Rica. We came to Vermont sight unseen. All we knew about VT was what we had researched online from Costa Rica. We knew we would still have access to nature but without all the poisonous snakes and scorpions that came with living in a tropical climate Access to local farmers and organic food where we can have confidence where our food was coming from. We knew there was a big movement around sustainability and learning to live in a post-fossil fuel world. No big corporate presence nor any road sign advertisement, no Walmart culture and we aligned with VT’s political views. It ticked a lot of the items on our list of requirements for a new locale.

We arrived in VT in May 2014 just in time for Spring, Summer, and Fall which are DSC_0026amazing and we quickly fell in love. It was familiar, it was the USA but it wasn’t the same. Nature was abundant, rivers, brooks and wildlife can be seen just about everywhere you go. Covered bridges and stone walls abound within the beautiful landscape. I couldn’t help but stop and admire the rock cairns that are left piled up everywhere and anywhere.

The first time I ever saw a bear, skunk, woodchuck, porcupine, bard owl or heard IMG_0003the sounds of a coyote. The awakening of the salamanders and the peepers crossing the road to vernal pools as the weather warms up and the first warm Spring downpour arrives. Oh and did I mentioned Chipmunks! Lot’s of Chipmunks everywhere. We learned how to use an axe to split and stack wood and how to work with fire to heat our home. How to tap our own maple trees, collect the sap and make our own maple syrup. We also learned how to make fresh yogurt from raw milk on a wood stove, homemade bread, healthy chicken broth, kimchi and how to harvest wild mushrooms. We grew our own food and raised our own chickens.

IMG_0011Brian learned how to use new tools and gadgets and how to fix the machinery required to maintain and run our property, albeit reluctantly. And since there isn’t a lot of culinary variety in the mountains of Southern Vermont when it comes to dining out we figured out how to make healthy versions of Indian, Thai and Chinese cuisines. And if you forget something at the grocery store, you learned how to make due, the closest major supermarket was a 50 mile round trip from West Townshend. It was so much fun learning to contra dance and square dance and listening to the local fiddle players, it’s definitely not something I saw coming up in the South Bronx. Vermont was also the first place I experienced true democracy in action right in our local town of Newfane. People here are certainly passionate, especially when every vote counts. Our son also joined us in VT and was able to start a new life which led to his eventual successful relocation to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

IMG_0009For the first time in my life I became friendly with the dark. I never knew a darkness like VTs’and as child growing up I always felt fearful of darkness. It was probably because I was accustomed to the street lights in NYC. Even when the lights were out in our apartment in the Bronx, you would still see a residual glow. The root of my fear was probably because at night my Puerto Rican mother always used to threaten me with El Cuco if I did not behave. El Cuco was the mysterious boogeyman who apparently lived under my bed. A shapeless monster that would appear to kidnap and eat misbehaving children who don’t obey their parents. I guess you could say Vermont allowed me to get friendly with my inner Cuco.

IMG_0002The Winters in VT are long, deep, dark and COLD. You definitely have to live here some time to learn the true nature of Father Winter but on the more positive side, you also learn to appreciate the changes in seasons and when the sun rises and sets, when the flowers bloom in Spring and those chipmunks rise from hibernation, hiking in the woods and swimming in the brooks in the summer and enjoying the amazing colors in the fall. Vermont is all about the cycles of life. You can always count on getting a workout whenever you take a walk in VT even if you are not hiking in the woods. The hills certainly are a challenge. You can rest assured that you will either have to hike up on the way out or on the way back on any path you take in VT.

Safety and Freedom are the two words that come to mind when I think of Vermont. We never locked our doors. There was this sense of freedom to be myself, no one to judge you based on what you are wearing, how you look or your economic status.

IMG_0016Vermont gave me an opportunity to discover who I really am and to reinvent myself after looking inward. I became a Certified Yoga Teacher in Vermont and learned how to run my own yoga studio. My passion for latin dancing was reawakened when I started teaching classes to the local community. I never thought I would be a yoga teacher let alone a latin dance instructor when I left my life and career in NYC. I knew I wanted to do something different that would help people and I was able to realize that passion here in VT. I learned so much about myself and how to be not only a better teacher but a better person with all of the wonderful people I met along the way. I don’t take for granted the fact that there is more to be learned and more I can do to help others.

Warrior II - 20170728_163337.jpg
Judy Harrigan Owner of Up the Hill Yoga

Fittingly, Vermont has decided to give us a great send off. We’ve enjoyed sunny skies and summer like weather for our last 10 days in almost October. Thank you Vermont. What an amazing journey! I will always keep you in my heart. no matter where we end up.


Judy Harrigan

Yoga Nomad and Instructor

4 thoughts on “What Vermont Meant To Me

  1. Miss you but am doing my own practice at home. Interesting to say the least. Still hear your voice!. Your Birds of Paradise are doing famously. Will send pictures once we get them upstairs. I feel some blooms coming on. Tell Brian the little straggler he poked into the pot is almost bigger than the birds themselves. Be safe…Judy

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s