Our son Dan recently suggested we should all stay in the Vermont house that my husband built 24 years ago. Maybe it’s because it may snow soon and he is eager to ski. I don’t really know what his reason is, but I am giving it some serious thought.The first time my husband Jim and I visited the land that he’d bought in Vermont, I was six months pregnant. It was a hot and humid June weekend. We slept in a tent. Needless to say, it was not wonderful in my condition. The second time we went, it was fall and now there were three of us: Jim and our two-year-old Dan. This time, we stayed in an old hunting cabin with three cots, a potbelly stove, and the weirdest toilet I have ever seen. The toilet worked on some sort of  compost theory I don’t want to go into, but the sun was shining through the foliage and it was spectacular. Days were spent watching my son play happily in the woods with nothing but a few sticks and a juice box.

  By the time Jim built our log cabin, we were living in suburbia and had three young children and a cairn terrier. In the winter our family would drive up to Vermont on Friday nights. The minivan was always stuffed with ski equipment and all manner of winter clothes.One freezing December it was midnight as we drove the rutted dirt path that led to our cozy oasis in the woods. About a quarter-mile from our destination, the snow got deeper, piled ten feet high on either side of the road. We were driving through a veritable snow tunnel.

  I asked Jim if the crews always plowed all the way up to the front door. He said, “Of course.” We turned the corner and our headlights lit up an eight-foot-high wall of snow, completely blocking our passage. As the lights bounced off the middle of this icy wonder, we sat in silence before bursting into incredulous laughter. How were we going to get three small children, not to mention the dog and all our belongings, to the cabin? The sleepy children, Jim and I all stumbled out of the car to look in amazement at the frosty white mountain in front of us. We then heard the sickening sound of the car locking shut behind us. Thankfully, there was a Lego wedged into the trunk lock so that door remained open. Jim waded through the drifts to the cabin, where he found one set of snowshoes. He and I each took one. With every step, one leg would skim the surface and the other would sink up to the waist. He carried the children on his shoulders. I hoisted the cairn terrier into my armpit and we slogged up to the refuge of our home.When our son Dan said he would like us all to go to Vermont again, he may have been thinking of skiing days and crystal clear nights. But possibly, like me, he remembers the simple pleasures of being together as family with nothing more than a warm fire and a good story to tell.  All photos by Dore Hammond.


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  • kate murray December 19, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Fantastic story and great vision of my uncle Jim with his beautiful family. Love kate

  • Margaret Carroll December 19, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Just another example of how Legos have saved civilization…..love this story!

  • dore hammond December 16, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Thanks Judith!

  • Judith A.Ross December 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    That time together becomes more and more precious as they get older. I’m looking forward to all four of us spending a few days together under one roof.

    Forget the gifts and all the other hullabaloo, sitting around the table with my “fellas” is what matters most to me.

    Great post and photos. Thanks Dore!