Robert Frost, the quintessential Vermont Poet, was not a "Vermonter" -- he, in fact, had a wandering soul, if not body, much of his life. My husband and I are not Vermonters; we never were and never would be despite our 12 years in the Green Mountains of Pownal. But we know all about Frost's road "less traveled." And we will soon be on that road, to a new opportunity in Michigan.
But before we leave, we wanted to make known why we thought our years in Pownal were great and why it is a place we will always carry in our hearts and memories. This is, for lack of a better title, our Top 10 of Pownal; in no particular order.
Bill and Ruth Botzow. Bill is as studious as he is accessible and reasonable; if all political leaders were as good policy wonks as he, it would be a better country. Ruth has been involved with seemingly everything Pownal, from the Library to the Nature Conservancy.
The Strobridge Recreation Complex. With the work of Mr. Strobridge, the Feds and many local people, the town has a waste water treatment plant, a riverfront park, and open land untapped. More can and should be done for recreation use, but it is a great start.
Mighty Foods Farm. Led by young people with a solid vision for the future, the area has the ability to eat local and think global.
The Community Garden near the town hall. Led by local volunteers, and hard labor, it is a community gathering place and supplier of local produce that harkens back to the best Vermont traditions.
Jim Winchester and Charlotte Comar and all the other long-time locals, those who have been here forever and those who have been here long enough, who carry with them the collective memory of a great community.
Rose Marie Pelletier and Jordan Schell-Lambert and all those relative newcomers who care about the community and add to it every day they are here.
The new Lucy Wright Case Reading room at the Solomon Wright Library, and the Case family.
The Spirit of Giving project. Running strong for more than 5 years, it has allowed community members to give directly to neighbors in need.
The Pownal 250th Celebration. The event brought community members together and shined a spotlight on Pownal for other towns to use as an example in their town celebrations.
The Pownal Midnight Run and Community Ramble. A chance to run/walk the backroads of Pownal on a beautiful July night; a chance to see neighbors and, again, to spotlight what is good and delightfully different about our town.
In the end, as we choose which road we will travel, we leave many good friends and memories, and the hope that we leave Pownal a slightly better place than we found it. In the end, we will remember our Pownal roadtrip, and "that has made all the difference."
TJ Norris, with her husband, Ken, and Rastus the Wonderdog, live in Pownal.