Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Most Beautiful Place on Earth

I went to Australia for three weeks or so when I was in high school. What an amazingly beautiful place. I stayed in Sydney, Cairns, a number of suburbs, a small rural town, camped in the outback, snorkelled on the Great Barrier Reef, and rested at a number of tourist resorts. I got a good glimpse of many facets of the country, people, culture, and geography. It was incredible. I hope to go back someday, taking my wife and family (or just my wife if it's several years from now).

When I got home from Australia, I decided that it wasn't the most beautiful place on earth, even though in physicality and landscape views, it probably is the most beautiful place to which I've ever been. But there is one place that I still think is more beautiful. If I had to choose a place to sit and rest, out of any place in the world, this would be it. When I die, I'd love to be buried there or have my ashes thrown into the wind there. We hope to do our best, God-willing, to make it there every summer if we can. I can't wait to take my children there so they can grow up with similar memories as mine.

I grew up taking family vacations to Lake Champlain. My grandparents' "camp", as we often call it, is on a small inlet in between Lapan's Bay and St. Alban's Bay in St. Alban's Bay, Vermont. The camp is at the end of a long dirt road. We are the dead end. No one bothers us there. My grandfather originally bought a camp on the lake in 1955 and then moved to the current land in 1964. The Nease family tree has taken vacations there ever since. I dread the day if and when the land is ever lost or sold. Sure, more people have discovered the area, but not enough to scare us away.

Anyway, back to the Australia-Vermont comparison. Australia is probably "more beautiful" as I said earlier. But Vermont is more beautiful to me in several ways. First and foremost is the presence of family. The Nease family tree has diverged over the years. Our families are quite different when you really look at us side-by-side. But believe me you, put us all together up at the Lake, and we have more love for one another than bees and honey. Sure, we often get into disagreeing discussions, but it's usually all in good fun. I love my family.

Then there are the memories. I remember learning to fish. There are several individuals who took me fishing as a child, just me and them - my dad, my grandpa, my brother, my uncle, my other uncle, my sister, my mother, and yes, I even believe I remember my grandmother taking me out once. I remember the huge catfish my dad used to catch. Sometimes we'd all rent out a lot on an island and we'd have to take more than one trip on the boat to get everyone there to spend the whole day. I remember taking boat rides to and from the big bay (St. Alban's) to watch the fireworks over the bay on July 4th (I've seen better fireworks in San Diego and other places, but not with better company, or with more exciting boat rides back to our dock thanks to Uncle Steve and his crazy driving). I remember putting the docks out, building docks and bringing them in at the end of the season. I remember watching powerful storms across the lake. I remember huge feasts of steak, hot dogs, all the Vermont corn-on-the-cob you can eat, and Auntie Helen's amazing desserts. I remember big bonfires, hunting for frogs, playing cards and Monopoly way into the night. I remember eating Ben & Jerry's factory seconds. I remember playing catch with my brother or grandfather. I remember playing whiffle ball, climbing trees, water-skiing, tubing, snorkelling, catching crawdads, burning the trash, and even playing "house" with my cousins. I remember falling asleep in the hammock or on the couch, usually after reading pages and pages from some book in the Chronicles of Narnia.

Most of all, I remember the sunsets. Usually we're all sitting around, fat from an incredible meal, talking a lot about nothing, waiting for the sun to set. Nowhere is there a more beautiful sunset. Yes, the picture was taken from our campsite (thanks to grandma).

My wife and I (and our four month old son) were not going to be able to make it to the Lake this summer because of time and finances. But this post was prompted by a call from my mother today asking if they could fly us up there in a few days. Hmm...had to think about that one.

Edward S. Mann wrote a poem called To the Lake Again. It's hanging on the wall in my parents' home. I wish I had it here to quote for you (if anyone reading this has a copy, could you e-mail it to me?). For now, I'll leave you with a few parts of another poem by Uncle Ed, Not in Vermont:


There are some places in the land
Where human greed holds sway;
Where nature is commercialized -
Her beauty made to pay,
Where billboards hide the loveliness
Which people need and want.
There are such places, but we pray,
"Please, Lord, not in Vermont;
Lord, not in Vermont."
There are some people - far and wide -
Who are inclined to shirk;
Who want the highest salary,
The least amount of work;
Who seek their own security
Though costs will ever haunt
Their children. but we plead of Thee,
"Please, Lord, not in Vermont;
Lord, not in Vermont."

F&TC,
- J

4 comments:

  1. I hope you can make it.

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  2. Hey Jeremy! Nice to hear from you, it's funny when you find out who exactly is reading your ramblings. Thanks for the congrats, Paul is yes- absolutely hysterical, and a true blessing in my life! Congrats on Brayden, I hope I get to meet him before long. Be sure to tell Meghan hello and I wish you both the best. God Bless and i'll def. keep in touch.

    Amber

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  3. hi jeremy, i found your blog by googleing "most beautiful place in vermont"... and since i've never been there and you seem to know the area pretty damn welll, i thought i could probably ask you this:
    we're a family of 6 (all grown ups), looking to rent a cabin/house on a lake for a week. Problem is that we have NO idea of what lake, what region, etc... Just looking for the perfect spot, kerouac's style you know... So maybe, you could help us determine where to look?
    carine.

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  4. Carine -

    I hope you're reading this because there was no other way for me to respond to you.

    I really don't have any information like that. I just return year after year to the same place that our family owns.

    Sorry!

    - J

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