This beauty arrived at my cottage early last week and hung out with me a few days, taking flight just before Handsome Chef Boyfriend’s happy arrival Thursday. Lately I have felt unsettled, a little jittery, like I’ve had too much coffee, but all the time. My first academic year on the teaching staff at White River Ballet Academy ended well after last weekend’s performances, concluding with a final Primary Level class yesterday: the (mainly) five-year-old kindergartners who last fall had their first exposure to the American Ballet Theatre curriculum we use at the school are changed little people, preparing for first grade and looking less toddler-like, more like kids. I have witnessed this transition for a while now and enjoy it. These little ones have come a long way as very young dancers, too; I am proud of them. I frankly expected my students–in all the levels I teach–to be worn out, sluggish, or likely even absent from their final week of classes. On the contrary, most of them were not only there, but focused, confident after last weekend’s performances, and danced beautifully. I think it is important for all of us on the teaching staff to pause and admire how far we have nurtured along our students since September–and then to reflect on this moment again in the fall when we look at them in their first week of classes and wonder how in the world we will prepare them for auditions and for the stage in the spring, which in my decade’s teaching experience always happens. And still somehow, they are very nearly always ready when they need to be. Now, a restorative and deserved week off before summer sessions begin.
Again there are big changes on the horizon for me, about which I will write as they unfold. Writing has been my salvation, as has the ballet classroom, and I am ever thankful to have them at my disposal. I have already alluded to the reality that I must give up my lakeside cottage; that transition will begin in a couple of weeks. My new home on 180 wooded acres excites me (just wait, Clarence), and I think I have made a good choice. It was a home I considered just before my arrival in Vermont, but with no data then about New England winters I was a little gun-shy. I am definitely not what you would call a “seasoned” Vermonter, but I am still standing after snow and ice and wind and power outages, and I will be fine there, I think.
The other reality is that I must find more work. I hope to rely on my academic laurels for that, and will begin to search in earnest this week. I will not leave the ballet world; I belong there and made a promise to myself about a decade ago that I would never again leave it. I hope like crazy I can keep that promise to myself. What I’ve called my year of transition–which I predicted would be over by now–I instead should have called my year of upheaval. I remain in transition, but hope the coming year sees the emergence of a new tap root I intend to put down right here in Vermont.
Upheaval notwithstanding, Handsome Chef Boyfriend and I ventured into Windsor on Friday because I wanted to show him this groovy little shop I had discovered earlier on my own; we sampled several beautiful cheeses and ultimately bought a small piece of locally made Madison Bleu. Food shopping with HCB entertains me not only because of the lifetime supply of bad puns apparently occupying a huge piece of real estate in his silly noggin, but also because I can usually see the chef wheels turning while he is fingering and tasting and smelling things. The cheese we bought accompanied this lovely cooked-to-perfection London Broil dinner he made us later with crunchy little snap peas and roasted potatoes; we drank a really inexpensive but very nice Shiraz with it. Dessert out of a plastic bag: cast-off pieces of peanut butter bars from the bakery where HCB works as a pastry chef.
Also in Windsor we played an impromptu game of badminton in the rain (pretty dang bad) on a court set up just outside the store, visited this brewery, and also toured this beautiful new vodka distillery, where we enjoyed a teeny sample of the delicious, smooth Vodka they make there.
Before Windsor we had taken the scenic route to King Arthur Flour (which is not far from my home), where we had lunch, and also this wicked little crisp-on-the-outside-gooey-on-the-inside creation called an amaretti bianchi. So very wicked in fact that we left with a couple more of them; they were long gone by the time we arrived home later. HCB tracked down a very similar recipe (because King Arthur of course can’t reveal its trade secrets) and plans to make some of them; I believe it is likely that there are almond cloud cookies in my future, perhaps around my middle and also on my rear end.
We had been itching also to go to the Farmer’s Market in Norwich and managed to find a dry window of time for that after ballet class yesterday, during an otherwise soggy pair of days. My only real standard for comparison is this farmer’s market which I frequented in Knoxville; it is bigger and a bit more diverse to be sure, but what I loved about the Norwich market was the consistently high quality of the produce there and the absence of prolific tchotchke vendors–just the right amount of them, and the stuff was by and large also high quality.
This jam session was going on smack in the middle of the market and was big fun. Ultimately we left with a loaf of crusty country bread and a large bunch of these beautiful mixed lettuces:
which morphed into this beautiful salad:
which I made for myself after HCB and I returned from our afternoon run; Clarence and I joined him for the second five of his ten-miler. A multitude of Times crosswords (you can never have too many), a silly rented movie, gentle foot rubs: nice time with HCB, and always over with far too soon.
‘Til next time. The story is just beginning.