Monday, June 8, 2009

Vermont: Creativity as a way of life

Back when I started this blog, I mentioned that one of the things I wanted to do here was annotate some of the difference between my home of 53 years, Virginia, and my new home in southwestern Vermont. A month into living here, I have yet to do that, so this evening I thought I would take a little time and begin.

I have been coming up here for a little more than a year and a half now. I was immediately struck by the beauty of the mountains and the quintessentially New England villages. I have a lifetime love of old homes, and southwestern Vermont is filled with simple colonial homes of perfect proportions and an easy elegance.

The light here is somehow different than what I am used to, and things photograph beautifully, not just in the early mornings and late afternoons (which is true everywhere), but also in the middle of the day. I am sure there are some who knew that moving ten hours north would change the nature of light, but I was not aware of it, and I am enchanted by the difference.

But more than that, I have come to love the people here, and in particular, the way art is a way of life for so many of the people who live and work here.

Don't get me wrong, the Roanoke Valley has a plethora of artists, writers and artisans. There are plenty of opportunities for a creative person to find like spirits and mingle. But the difference here is that there seems to be a larger percentage of people who practice their art (whatever it may be.). Sometimes it seems nearly everyone here is an artist of one sort or another.

In Virginia, when I would meet people at church or at a gathering or in a business setting, nearly everyone answers with what they do for a living. They are mechanics, or lawyers or whatever. Here however, I have noticed that they tend to answer not so much with their vocation, but with their avocation. With their art. I often find out that someone writes or paints or is a potter or woodworker before I find out they are a housewife or doctor or plumber. It's just accepted here that art is not something someone else does, but something most people do.

This has taken a little getting used to. In Virginia, the fact that I was worked as a manager and broadcast engineer, that wrote poetry and took photographs and drew made me something of an anomaly. Here in Vermont, it makes me... well... kind of like everyone else. I like that. I like it a lot.

I like it because it means I am always encountering like spirits. I may be in the grocery store or at church or talking to my lawyer and the conversation often turns to literature or drama or art or.... I don't even have to seek creatives out - they are everywhere.

I don't think, while I was in Virginia, that I realized how much I missed that kind of conversation. But I realize now that I did, and I missed it a lot because I find myself energized constantly by every day conversation.

Again, don't get me wrong. There were plenty of opportunities for me to find like minded people in Virginia. So if I didn't get enough to nourish my spirit, I have myself to blame. I would have had to seek them out, but the opportunities were there. But what sets this corner of Vermont apart is how pervasive it is, how the creative spirit seems to be simply part of the fabric of life. I don't have to seek it out. Just the opposite - I'd have to hide from it if I didn't want it.

To say I am grateful for the adventure of coming here would be an understatement. At my age, most people in my experience are where they are going to be, held in place by habit, jobs, or a wide variety of other things. In my case however, a startling chain of unexpected events piled on on the other for months on end and led me here, to a place that a few years ago, I never would have imagined, a place where creativity is not just "out there", or "something others do." to a place where it's simply a way of life.


PS: The picture is of the slate quarry next to my house in West Pawlet, Vermont, the quarry that gives my home and this blog their name. You can click on it for a larger version.


Derrick said...

Hi Tom,

You seem to be right at home! That's great, and that you can now introduce yourself as a poet, writer and photographer!

willow said...

Yes, it sounds like you fit in perfectly up there, Tom. :^)

Lyn said...

Seems like the right place, finding and speaking to creative have been given a special gift..sounds like you belong.. Creativity is an aura!

Shadow said...

no 2 places are the same, each has their own attractions... your blog name is inspired!