The end of my trip home was sweet and gentle and left me with a lovely sense of ease to carry back with me. I got my tan, saw everyone I love, and remembered why I love St. Barths so much. Maybe this year I will actually stick to my resolution to return for the winter when my season on Nantucket ends. I hope I do.
I took a quick trip to Vermont before racing back to Nantucket for work on Monday morning. My friend Amanda (Amandaventures!) moved to Middlebury, Vermont this winter to take a job at the college and we were way overdue for a visit. Short as it was, we managed to cram in some good fun. I got in around 11:30 and finished off the left-overs from her extravabrunch–scrambled duck eggs (YUM!), oven roasted home fries, Vermont cheddar, avocado–while we chatted with her housemates and other visiting friends. Around 2 we went to a local tavern for “Celebrate Vermont Day” where they featured about two dozen Vermont craft beer and hard cider in various sizes. Somebody must have called ahead for me, or Vermont is just that cool, but with three ciders on the menu, I was feeling pretty well celebrated myself. Either way, a couple of ciders down the hatch and I started feeling pretty refreshed.
Amanda had to work at 4 (extra cash monies from a local restaurant) so I went back to her house for a little nap and then wandered around Middlebury trying to find her place of employment, which turned out to be no easy task. New England river towns are somehow always full of blind alleys, weird back roads and twists and turns that make no sense to any linear-minded person. After 15 minutes of wrong turns and dead-ends, I finally made it and with mounting hunger and anticipation made my way through the crowd milling around the entrance. I ordered a bottle of the newly discovered (and very delicious) Citizen Cider and found myself a cozy spot at the bar. Bow Thayer, a local musical legend was playing that night and American Flatbread turned out to be quite the happening place.
The menu at AF is sparse and simple. One salad, five or six named flatbreads, three or four specials including one soup and a build-your-own pizza option. Bam. There you have it. They also (and most importantly) feature a gluten-free crust made by West Meadow Farm Bakery in Essex, VT. I have had my share of gluten-free pizza crust–one of the reasons I so rarely eat pizza, in fact–but this took me back to my gluten eating days. The crust was soft and springy, slightly crusty around the edge, didn’t fall apart when I picked up a slice… I am a firm believer in the power of deprivation to really make you appreciate what you have and this was a textbook example of that principle at work. It was so good that I almost cried for the pure sensory pleasure of it. Seriously. Try eating what passes for GF pizza crust for 4.5 years and then eat what tastes like the real thing and tell me it doesn’t make you want to jump and dance and frolic and never ever leave to go back to a life without. It was the best thing to happen in my life since duck eggs that morning. Life is sweet, and it’s the little things that make it so.
Since the weather was mild and was supposed to be clear on Sunday, we had decided to go climbing at the Falls of Lana about 20 minutes outside of Middlebury. Sunday morning we picked up another friend, some eggcellent breakfast and a pair of (as yet unworn!) climbing shoes from the gear room for me and then we were off. After a steep ten minute hike during which I discovered just exactly what kind of physical shape I am in we arrived at the bottom of the cliff. A number of the routes were still pretty wet but we figured we could climb around the wet spots so we hiked to the top to set up the ropes.
After rappelling down the face of the cliff (lots of fun!) we started our respective climbs back up. We started with the 5.5 and then moved our way up to a 5.9 and a 5.9+. The last time I went climbing was with Monkey in a gym about 3 years ago and I had never climbed outdoors so I was a little nervous. As it turns out, outside is more fun (which I expected) and is, in a lot of ways, easier, too. The other nice thing about climbing is that it is one sport where gender plays a much smaller part in performance and ability. Women don’t naturally rely on brute strength so they tend to be more methodical in their approach, whereas men have to learn to use their bodies differently. It levels out the playing field in a pretty big way. At any rate, Amanda scampered up every route like a monkey, to our everlasting admiration. I was a little more hesitant, but once I got over the this-can’t-possibly-be-big-enough-to-hold-my-body-wait-my-toes-can-do-what?! stumbling block, I felt a bit like a lizard myself. The advantages of height, flexibility and massage-strengthened hands can’t be disregarded and it was nice to feel like I may not be so completely out of shape after all. We climbed for a few hours and then hiked back down the far side of the river to the car. Not my usual lazy Sunday, but very enjoyable nonetheless.
I wish I had more opportunities for scaling rocks in my summer life, but I’ll have to be satisfied with my water sports for a little while longer. I really have no grounds for complaining. Amanda might come down again this summer and we’re talking about going on a climbing trip out West in the fall… There are so many things to look forward to! Hooray for spring!