Even though South Burlington commentator and poet Anne Averyt fled
Vermont this winter for a week in the sun, she discovered that happiness
isn’t just a warm state.
(Averyt) For the first time this year, I
joined the flocks of winter weary snow birds and flew south in search
of sunshine and warmth. I wanted for a least one brief week to trade
the snows of winter for the sands of the Gulf. To feel warm without a
fleece and sit seaside in sunshine, nestled into a beach chair with a
favorite book for company.
Sunshine and warmth are good for the
Vermont body and soul in mid-winter. It was 2 degrees when I boarded
the plane in Burlington, just ahead of a major storm. I was in dire
need of a refresher course in spring.
After three decades in
the North Country, I have acclimated to sub-temperatures. I no longer
need to slide plastic bags over my socks to keep my toes warm in my
boots and I can take out the trash without first donning an arctic
For me, it’s really about the light, the sun’s arc, its
rays – and its absence in the long Vermont winter. I admit I need
light. Gray pulls me down. Sun shining on my face transforms my
countenance, easing the worry lines.
The Beatles, philosopher
kings of my generation, understood that special quality of sunshine. "I
need to laugh," they sang, "and when the sun is out, I’ve got something I
can laugh about. I feel good, in a special way. I’m in love and it’s a
But sunshine alone isn’t enough. It’s a wonderful
winter tonic but it isn’t a guarantee of happiness. Recent national
studies ranked the Gulf Coast region near the bottom when it comes to
happiness. But while these sunshine states don’t show up on the radar
of contentment, Vermont took high honors as a state of happiness,
topping in at number five in two studies.
Even as I was
leaving on my jet plane, bags packed and ready to go, I was already
looking forward to coming home again. In the movie UP an octogenarian
ties his house to a balloon and takes off chasing a dream, only to
discover that what is most important are the relationships that nurture
us in the place where we are.
The Green Mountains, bidding me
goodbye through early morning haze that day I took flight, were just as
welcoming and forgiving when I returned. I admit to wanderlust; I love
to travel. But it’s always good to come home to Vermont, where white is
the color of winter, green is the hope of spring and happiness is more
than just rays of sun.
Home to Vermont, where my friends are, where my heart beats and where my feet always return.