In the next week, my older daughter will graduate from high school. My younger ends her elementary grades in the beloved red schoolhouse. I will sell one house and buy another; my daughters and I will move seven miles or so from one county to another, all our earthly belongings packed up in cardboard boxes and transported by friends and relatives. I will shut the door one final time on a house my former husband and I built, and metaphorically step away from that marriage. Friends from long ago are coming to visit. My daughters and I will come to know how and when sunlight enters our new house, what the water tastes like, where on the horizon the moon rises.

My daughters good-naturedly roll their eyes when I talk about houses being alive, but our house now will pass into hands better able to care for its keen needs. In the sky over our new house, graceful and eternally patient turkey vultures spread their wings in spirals of air currents. All life is change; we’re in the spin of confluence this week – and likely the next – but then I intend to have a good long summer, listening to the birdsong, swimming in Vermont’s cold lakes, and studying those vultures, our new neighbors.

Sometimes when we lose, we gain, and when we gain, we lose. Our fears and joys are bound up inextricably, pleasure in pain and pain in pleasure. Our efforts to untangle and isolate human experience can leave us confused and depressed. Happiness means choosing to be productive and optimistic, recognizing despair for the ancient parasite that it is and outsmarting it.

– Alice Herdan-Zuckmayer, The Farm in the Green Mountains