Vermonters have an advantage. Many Vermonters have built their lives from the ground up evaluating and cherishing what matters most along the way. Those who have chosen to move to Vermont see it as a beacon of freedom and authenticity.
“You are not alone.” “We are stronger together” signs at the Women’s March stated. I’ve been so riled up and activated since the inauguration that it’s hard to know what to do next. HGTV is my escape from the chilling news and the craziness in our country right now. I am heartened by “Tiny House Nation,” “Tiny House Hunters,” and “Tiny House, Big Living” television programs where young professionals, creative individuals and couples, and even families choose to return to real values by living together in 500 square feet or less. They seek simplicity, often mobility on wheels, and freedom from mortgages, debt, and fluctuating real estate, a great concern among many who suffered plunging values in our mortgage debacle.
“Love trumps hate.” “I march against hate.” “Hate won’t make America great!” other signs said. Tiny houses are all about love. People in search of a tiny house want to spend more time with family and friends and be free to focus on their life passions. Some tiny house converts invest their life savings along with support from their families in building or having their tiny dream house built by a team of professionals. Some daring, skilled visionaries design and build their own tiny homes on a tight budget using repurposed materials and salvaged wood.
“Science is real.” “Reverse climate change.” “Living simply saves our earth.” Signs seem to portray similar messages. Tiny houses are eco-friendly and a way to demonstrate concern for our earth. Driving over mountains, around lakes, and through the back woods of Vermont, tiny, rustic hunting and lake cabins built recently or long ago dot the landscape. Some are off the grid and others are summer get aways. Many are fully lived in and enjoyed. They are simple. They are real. To many Vermonters, they are home.
Sometimes I dream of living in a tiny house, away from clutter and distraction. I would take only bare necessities, and use soothing, healing colors and textures. Turquoise and periwinkle would prevail with touches of pink and purple. It would be filled with sunlight and warmth streaming through dotted Swiss curtains, tied back. My tiny house might resemble a Victorian “folly” where women retreated for peace and creativity. I would serve tea to friends, then close the door to paint, write, and dream. I’d meditate on a plush, cozy couch, and practice qigong, music filling the space. I’d watch the stars twinkle and fall from the sky as we’d talk of our future, my husband and I. But alas, we’ve accumulated so darn much stuff that from the downsizing required, I’d be beside myself!
“Think of the starving Armenians,” my dad recalled that his parents used to say. “Think of the suffering Syrian refugees,” many Vermonters say today. It is utterly heart breaking that after two years of vetting and years spent in camps that they are being denied godspeed and a chance to heal in communities eager for their arrival. If only we could beam the Syrian refugee families up to their host families that stand with arms wide open, ready to offer friendship and warmth, compassion and peace to lives in need of healing. We pray that once they arrive, and for the rest of their lives, they’ll be safe and secure and thrive in this beautiful place where neighbors reach out to help one another. For that is what Vermont’s all about.
Marguerite Jill Dye is an author and artist who lives in the Green Mountains of Vermont and on Florida’s Gulf Coast with her husband, Duane. She wrote and illustrated a book on the Camino and illustrated (with paper cut collage) “Where is Sam?”
Photo by Marguerite Jill Dye