When I was a kid in the backseat of our green Jeep while my parents drove back to New Hampshire from our trips to Toledo and then often west of the Mississippi, Vermont was the final stretch on a very long journey home, and my mother claimed it was always raining in Vermont. It sure can rain in Vermont.
This morning, mist waters broccoli starts I planted yesterday, spinach and lettuce sowed for fall consumption. Even as a kid, I was fascinated by Vermont, with its infinitely promising green depths – what’s in all those woods? We stopped at a sugarhouse, and I was lifted up to peer into an enormous pan steaming with boiling maple sap, where we tasted hot syrup from tiny paper cups.
Later, as a young adult, I lived for years not far from that very stretch of highway, Route 9, all tangles and bends, some of which the department of transportation straightened out since then, some which will always reflect the jagged steepness of those mountains. I later possessed a giant sap pan myself, and served countless cups of hot syrup to children.
What does a kid remember from a childhood, anyway? While my parents were fighting exhaustion and worn-out windshield wipers, bending the atlas, their younger daughter was in the backseat, sowing the seeds of her adulthood.
In retrospect: could have been worse. What’s going on in my backseat, while I’m reading the map?
Raising children was not about perfecting them or preparing them for job placement. What a hollow goal! Twenty-two years of struggles for what – your child sits inside at an Ikea table staring into a screen while outside the sky changes, the sun rises and falls, hawks float like zeppelins.
Dave Eggers, Heroes of the Frontier