By Marguerite Jill Dye
Living life’s passions brings such joy. Sharing them is even better. It deepens relationships and expands our hearts. My husband Duane has a passion for trains, which helps compensate for a childhood lack, but some passions are passed down for generations and arise from fond memories or early dreams.
Dad’s love arose from riding trains out West and in Mexico with his brothers while their father served as American Consul. They pulled the blinds down in the passenger car so the lights wouldn’t show on the Mexican plain and Pancho Villa wouldn’t hold up their train! Later, Dad and my brothers set up a toy train that ran through our New Jersey attic, which, in turn, inspired my husband to build our son an elaborate train table. Now it enthralls Silas, our grandson. They turn down the lights so the engine lights glow on the ““O locomotives: the Santa Fe Super Chief and Orient Express, which chug along on two oval tracks. They “toot, toot, toot” and rarely collide. Smoke rises from smokestacks. The conductor speaks French. Silas is so in awe that Thomas the Train is his new best friend. Trains will most likely remain one of his passions in life.
Silas loves to hike too. Perhaps, this summer or fall, we’ll climb to the top of Bear Mountain together. Meanwhile, I introduced a good friend to it. Part way up, Judy and I met two mountain bikers wearing Killington badges. They volunteer as “summer hosts.” The three-year-old program was modeled after the Killington Ambassador program which began in 1962-63 for skiers with “an acute case of Killingtonitis.” Steven Hicks of Springfield, Mass., and Mark Paquette from Columbia, Conn., live their passions while helping fellow mountain bikers, snowboarders, and skiers on Killington each weekend. Ian McLaughlin directs the program.
Farther up, we met an Arkansas couple staying at the Grand Hotel and hiking a new trail each day for a week. We hiked part way up together, then all stood on the summit, entranced by the views. In 25 years of friendship with Judy, that was one of our most treasured moments. Descending, a far-off deer caught my eye, leaping across a wide ski slope. “Its tail is bushy,” Judy observed. “It’s a fox,” we declared in unison. “But it’s far away and far too big. It’s a coyote!” I concluded. For decades, we’ve heard coyotes howl at sunrise and sunset, but only once had I ever seen a Vermont coyote.
My greatest passion in recent years is walking the Camino de Santiago across Spain, the Camino Francés from the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela, and the Camino del Norte on Spain’s spectacular northern coast. We shared what we’ve learned with new Rutland friends who’ll walk the Camino Francés in the fall. They wanted to know the nitty-gritty, like what to wear and what backpack to carry. The grueling nature of the 500-mile pilgrimage is quite a challenge, but like the AT, the Appalachian Trail, the Camino enchants and often becomes one of the walker’s strongest life passions.
We followed our favorite AT trail to check up on our friends, a pair of geese we met last year and their four fluffy, pint sized goslings. A boater with binoculars eased our concern about the welfare of the loons. “Not long ago, the Canada goose sat on her eggs in that very same nest where Mama Loon is now sitting!” Papa Loon was on high alert when the boater passed nearby.
What are your passions? Can you name a few? What were you doing in your happiest times? Perhaps there’s a passion you could resurrect. Pursuing passions elevates mood, adds joy to life and gratitude. It lowers blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and the risk of illnesses related to stress. It’s important we ask ourselves what we love most, then make the time to do it! If what we love most isn’t included in life, we’re not honoring our authentic self. Writing down our passions and dreams gives them the power to manifest. Taking a small step to address one each day gives us hope and renews sense of self.
Let’s celebrate and share our life passions at a pot luck party and ice cream social Saturday, June 30, at 5 p.m. in the Killington Dream Lodge. If music is your passion, bring your instrument along, or your sketch, painting or carving. Read a poem or tell a joke if you like. Let’s celebrate our passions and freedom of expression, free speech and The Mountain Times—our wonderful, informative, and formidable newspaper. Hats off to its editors, publishers, staff, and writers like Brett Yates who contributed “Generation Y” for 10 years! What an accomplishment and devotion! (My 100 columns are a drop in the bucket). Let’s celebrate friendship, community, and belonging. Let’s celebrate one another! I promise to cook up Mom’s/Marguerite’s Ooh La La hot fudge sauce! Everyone is invited and welcomed. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org with the names of guests and whatever dish you’d like to share and I will send you the details.
Marguerite Jill Dye is an artist and writer who divides her time between Vermont and Florida’s Gulf Coast.