By Kristen Jaccodine
In the Wood
I remember it as if were yesterday. My parents took my sister and I to Vermont for winter break. We stayed in Woodstock, but spent some time in Stowe. Stowe is about four hours further north. This quaint Vermont town is home to Mt. Mansfield, the highest mountain in the state, peaking at 4,395 feet above sea level. Ben & Jerry's manufacturing plant is in a neighboring town, along with Cabot Cheese and the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. It's also home to Trapp Family Lodge - of the von Trapp Family. Baron von Trapp, his wife Maria and their children eventually settled in Stowe after escaping their beloved war-torn Austria in 1938. The family chose this land nestled in the mountains, overlooking the village of Stowe because it reminded them of their home country.
On that trip in February 1985, as my sister and I sat on the floor, putting together a small jigsaw puzzle of the lodge, our parents purchased a time share. For the next 50 years, we would spend a week every summer (and eventually a week in the winter and eventually in the spring) in this beautiful place. As much as I've traveled throughout the country and have visited wonderful places, it is here, that I return to year after year. The scenery is beautiful regardless of the season (although I will say that March, after the snow has melted and all that is left behind is mud? Not so pretty), but the sense of peace and calm that always settle within me while I'm here never changes.
Now, I can recount all of my adventures at the lodge, and maybe, one day I will. But for now, I want to focus on my last trip there.
It was last summer. While at Trapp, we have several traditions. We have ice cream at Ben & Jerry's, go to the Cabot annex store to sample the cheese and syrups they may have, bike along the rec path that starts from the base of Mt. Mansfield and ends in town, swim, and hike either on the Trapp property or elsewhere. Indoors, we challenge ourselves to complete a jigsaw puzzle within a week's time, we read, and play games. With the opening of the new bierhall, we eat lunch or dinner there at least once during our stay.
These are all things we do has a family. I also take time out for myself. I will go for a hike or a bike ride. More likely, I will retire to the lounge in the lodge, drink in hand, and write. Sometimes the drink is Sangria, other times it is a glass of Helles (Trapp Beer).
Earlier that morning, we hiked to the chapel built by Werner von Trapp. It is a beautifully crafted structure made of stone. After the boys took turns ringing the bell, we continued our walk through the woods, working our way back to the lodge. Nathan and I stayed back, searching for leaves for his school project, examining the depth of the mud puddles, and tossing rocks into the natural streams that feed the trees and plants of the earth. We visited the sugar shack, checked out the trees tapped for maple syrup, and listened to the hum of the birds and other wildlife that call this area home.
I enjoy hiking and these casual strolls through the silent woods. I appreciate the beauty that is found among the rocks, trees, plants and streams. I allow the fresh air to fill my lungs, my soul, with the goal of erasing the toxins that remain behind, a result of a difficult year at work. When I shared this piece with Elliot, my older nephew, he asked where my inspiration came from. I shared that it was the result of various hikes we've taken along the way, but it all came together on this morning, as we walked through the forest behind the lodge.
After settling in at the lodge, drink in hand, mountains in view, I began to write. I'm a bit of a traditionalist in that I often hand write my stories and poems before typing them. There is something about the feel of paper beneath my hand, the light weight of my pen against my fingers, and the ability to cross things out without losing them completely.
The silent, mysterious wood
called to me
Beckoning me to discover its’
This hidden treasure
Revealed itself to be a
Stretch of twists and turns,
That carried me up, over, and through
Mounds of secure and ancient granite
While blankets of pine mixed with varying
Hues of soil softened my steps
With the sun to my back
And a slight breeze on my side,
I absorb the warmth of the fresh air
Allowing it to cleanse me
And erase the stress and worries
That I carried far too long
In the wood, you are free
To reflect and replenish your mind
And allow the peace and tranquility that thrive here
To fill your soul and set you on a new path
One that does not return you to the beginning,
But starts you in the middle, forgiving past transgressions
providing the courage to move forward and begin anew
Refreshed and awakened to the possibilities that await.