Sunday, July 26, 2015

Growing up Vermont.

 I took the L.L Bean vintage vest to our old adventure spots.  Desso's

Growing up in Vermont means growing up outdoors.  Being lucky enough to have outdoor oriented parents, my youth was filled with adventures outside.  My sister and I spent our summers barefoot running around the dirt road in our neighborhood.  We used to play kick the can or flashlight tag with all the neighborhood kids.  When In the Arena sent all of its athletes a vintage L.L Bean vest last week, it ignited many memories of my young adventures.  There are a couple of spots around our house where the paths were well worn in.  Thus, these particular adventures were burned into my memory.   
Occasionally we got to add some penny candy to that Snapple

My parents would take us on a weekly weekend pilgrimage to Desso's, the local general store.  This was probably a ten mile ride round trip on a dirt road.  Intially, we would huff it over to Desso's on our old school Schwinn ten speed bikes with the dial shifter on the handlebar.  Then, one Christmas, we got matching purple Mongoose Hilltoppers.  These machines still probably weighed just as much as we did, but we did get an upgrade in shifters.  To be honest, I was purely food motivated to haul this thirty pound metal machine up and down those roads.  My parents would buy us a snapple of our choice at the general store.  This was the kindling for my cycling career, and I still ride by Desso's (now Jericho General Store) often on my training rides. 
The snack spot at the Town of Essex pool

In the summer, we lived at the town pool.  The Essex town pool was closed in the morning for swim team practice and swimming lessons, and then it would open to the public at one o'clock.  From this time until dinner, we swam, played Marco Polo, jumped off the diving boards, or sunned on a towel on the hot pavement pool deck to warm up.  Every quarter of an hour on the hour, all the lifeguard whistles would blow for adult swim.  The adults got the pool to themselves for fifteen minutes every hour which Sabe and I would use for snack time.  Food wasn't allowed in the pool so we would go out to a fenced in area adjacent to the pool and eat pretzels and animal crackers.  My mom also put us into swimming lessons and diving lessons in that pool.  We learned how to do a pike dive, front flip, and swan dive even off the high dive board.  She also threw us onto the swim team.  I was a bit too late to the party so I was put into the lane with kids about three years younger than me.  This was the only time in my life that I didn't want to compete.  I was awful, and I would hope with all of my might for a thunderstorm on the days of swim meets.  The only way I could do the butterfly stroke was to jump off of the bottom of the pool.  Yes, I was that bad.  Regardless, I only had to go through early morning practice and cold water with the young kids for one year.  This wasn't enough time to taint all of our good childhood years spent at that pool. 
 The Long Trail trailhead 

One of my most impactful memories was our first backpacking trip on the long trail one summer.  My sister belonged to a hiking club in middle school (how cool is that?) so my parents decided to lead the group on a week long trip one year.  This way, I got to come.  This trip was a natural extension of our yearly family camping trips.  Each summer, my parents would pack up the twelve person tent (I'm not sure why, we only have four people total in our immediate family), the sleeping bags, and the pads and drive to a location to camp for the week.  We went to the Adirondacks where we sat in the car and watched a bear completely ransack the neighboring campsite.  We camped on Prince Edward Island where we ate fish straight from the ocean, and it poured on us for two days straight.  We even took three weeks to drive out west and camp at all of the major national parks.  Alone, this Out West trip has about fifteen blogs worth of memories.  There were two constant themes on all of these camping trips.  My mom used to bring Bisquick.  She would mix it with water to make a paste, form the paste around a stick, and roast it over the fire.  We would cover it with honey and eat it. We called it a doughboy, and it was delicious.  I would also always be so sad to leave our campsite that I would need to say a special goodbye to the place alone before we left.  

Many of these adventures were accomplished with my mom wearing a similar vest to the one I got in the mail.  L.L Bean gives people the tools they need to get out and experience the outdoors.  I bet that red vest sat around many campfires and even hiked the long trail.  Maybe that vest was put around a shivering kids shoulders on a chilly summer Vermont day at the pool.    In the age of computer screens, the outdoors is needed now more than ever especially with kids.  The memories that can be made even within one's backyard can last a lifetime and plant the seeds to a healthy and fulfilled life.  Not to mention, my mom's vest is probably still kicking around, just like the one that showed up in the mail.  And, if it succumbed to the one hundredth adventure or a flaming doughboy, L.L Bean would replace it.   Thanks for L.L Bean for getting us and our Little Bellas outside.