Growing up, my family would make the trek out of The City and up to Vermont a few times a year to visit my aunt and uncle. These visits played such a huge part of my childhood, and are the source of some of my happiest and most vivid childhood memories.
Part of that is the magic of geography; the tree-covered mountains, the cold lake, the swarms of butterflies, the trails through the woods, and the constant soft babbling of Baker Brook, the small stream that runs through the property. Part of it is the house itself; my aunt & uncle are retired antique sellers, so every room is filled with so many objects of interest, each with a story. You could spend hours on each one. Part of it is my Aunt Olga; her wonderful stories, sharp and brilliant humor, her warm hugs, and the very very special twinkle in her eyes. Not to mention her unique ability to make you feel like you are truly the most special person in the whole world.
But my most magical memories have to do with my Uncle Clark. There were epic tire swings and sleigh rides; there were bird calls and woodworking projects; there was make-believe and swimming holes. From the minute my brother and I woke up in the morning to the minute we went to sleep, we were basically crawling all over him, pulling him this way and that.
But what stands out most in my memory are the walks we took, often with the neighbors' giant Rottweiler, Jake, plodding along beside us. We would just talk, about everything. He was the only adult in my life who really listened, who really took the time to listen to me. I never felt judged; I always felt loved and safe. This is no small thing as an adult. As a child, it can change everything, it can make the whole world feel safe, and understanding, and full of possibility.
The door jam of their kitchen served as a mile marker through not only my childhood, but those of so many other kids who I can only imagine felt that same simultaneous unbridled excitement and absolute security in that house. Each magical visit marked with a line drawn over the tops of our heads, our name, along with an annotation of the year and date.
This past weekend, Oliver got his first line.