What Vermont Means to Me

“What Vermont Means to Me”, An Exhibition of Vermont-inspired Plein Air Paintings, Poems and Prose of Marguerite Jill Dye  

Liquid Art, Killington Vermont

September-mid October, 2013

Poems Inspired by Vermont by Marguerite Jill Dye

HOMECOMING              

 When one comes home to Vermont

It is like no other homecoming

Passing cow pastures and farms

Crossing rivers, thick with trout,

We wind our way through

Village-sprinkled valleys

Up, up, up we climb

Into forest-clad mountains

Where windows fall open

To breathe mountain air

Up, up, up we climb

Through deer and moose crossings

Hunting warm, woolen sweaters,

Weaving our way around bends

Up, up, up we climb

Hearts and hills rise upwards

As gears shift downwards

Anticipation builds

Smiles grow, tears gather –

We’re home at last,

Surrounded by the ones we love

Whose welcome warms our hearts, souls…  and toes

                                             Marguerite Jill Dye, 5/23/10

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT THE MOUNTAINS

There’s something about the mountains

That calms a troubled soul.

The air is fresh, the sky is blue

Serenity, extolled.

Red foxes, bear and coyotes,

Squirrels and beaver run,

Hunt and play in meadows and fields,

On peaks and ledges in fog or sun.

Honking geese fly in formation

Bald eagles and hawks soar on high

Looking down with bird’s eye view

For mice and rabbits passing by.

The woods and forest hug

The mountains that carry them.

Ancient, cragged, granite peaks

Tower above inner sanctums.

There’s something about the mountains

That allows my heart to unfurl,

Earthly concerns and the stresses of life

Disappear, and all’s right with the world.

MY BELOVED VERMONT                                                                               

Kaleidoscope meadows, flower-speckled fields,

Birch silhouettes reaching toward heaven

Moose in the marsh – a cow with her calf –

Deer leaping cross creeks that flow now and then…

I’ve come to you for comfort and peace

When seeking solace from cruelty and pain

You’ve enveloped me in your loving woods,

Caressing my face with falling rain

Then warming me up with your sun’s golden rays

Restoring and making me whole once again

It seemed like any other storm

When rain began as mountain mist

Then transformed to curling clouds

Swirling billows in midair

In spite of the rain, a hummingbird

Flew in to sip syrup at windowpane

Even a monarch butterfly

Seeking sweet flower nectar remained

It started late and rained all night

In spurts of downpours riding on gales.

Once it stopped the wind arrived

Blowing trees with gusts, sideways.

I heard a flock of Canada geese

Flying above in off-formation

Their youngsters couldn’t hold the V,

Bumping into one another.

The honking racket made me laugh

As I prayed they’d safely pass.

But after Irene your open wounds

Pained my heart and shook my soul

Where river banks crumbled as water rushed past

And hundred year trees fell to their doom

Breaking up bridges that lay in their path

Even those, covered, from pioneer days

When horse-drawn carriages passed through on their way

To homesteads and farms, now flooded, in ruin.

To witness a storm of that magnitude

Whose rains eroded whole mountainsides

Was an experience I’d prefer to forget

But Vemont’s transformed landscape will always remember.

I’ve come now to give you comfort and peace

As you seek solace from cruelty and pain

I envelop your woods in my loving arms

Caressing your trees in the falling rain.

BUTTERFLY BLESSING

As I painted petals in meditation,

Glaze upon glaze reflecting the light,

The wisteria boughs began to take form

Then you entered my vision and slowly descended.

Such a delicate creature with soft, yellow wings,

Not large like a monarch but smaller and paler,

In perfect contrast against purple wisteria

You blessed me with your joyful presence.

                                      Marguerite Jill Dye

 

En Plein Air  – ON PAINTING IN THE OPEN AIRI paint en plein air wherever I am

In sun and wind and sometimes, rain.

I carry along my palette of paints

Then sketch the scene, no two the same.

If I start out my day cranky, angry or sad,

I plunk myself down and begin to create.

Earth energy seems to well up from the ground,

Restoring my soul – all my cares abate.

With a bit of paper, canvas and paint

Brushes and easel, I’ve found

I’m a new person, refreshed and joy-filled –

For Plein air’s the very best therapy around!

HOMESTEADWhose homestead is this?

On hillock sits

With fairytale woods beyond

Whose homestead is this?

So cozy and warm

Such beauty all around

Whose homestead is this?

Under snowflake coverlet

I wish I could enter it.

WINTER SOLSTICE

At the edge of the forest

In Green Mountain stillness

Ice crystals crack and shimmer

In sun’s last golden rays

From shortest day to longest night

Winter solstice heralds hope

As earth’s axis turns towards

Ever brighter, ever longer days.

TEA WITH MY GRANDMOTHERS

Lovely lace labored by loving hands

Of my grandmothers’ and theirs’

Ladies long gone throughout the ages

Whose masterful handiwork remains —

Dainty doilies bordered by scalloped edges

Dresser scarves fringed with frills

Demure collars worn on diminutive necks

Victorian blouses, hand pleated and hemmed

Dinner napkins and grand table cloths,

Embroidered, French knotted, inserted and edged–

Generation after generation, including my Mother

Who learned ancient ways by adding her own

Flowers and birds with colorful threads –

Petals and leaves appliqued all around

On card table cloths for tea parties and bridge

Bath and dish towels too precious to risk,

Heaven forbid a stain, that is.

I sit here in joy and also remorse

Knowing not what to do with box after box

Of such fragile treasures – but in the end

I carry some to the linen lady who

Sorts them abruptly with critical eye

Then she offers a pittance for the pile she grasps

With her long, sharp fingers accosting my lace

“Turned yellow, need mending, no value, undone” —

I wish I hadn’t gone to her shop

For she shows them all no love or respect

Which makes the weight of my guilt all the greater

I return home with her discards, defeated,

Then brew a cup of tea and deep breathe

A smile appears as I peek in the box of

The very best heirlooms I’d saved just for me.    

                                               Marguerite Jill Dye

FOUR GENERATIONS

Seeing the world through artist’s eyes

Is a gift my Great Grandmother gave me

Pioneer painter, six children in tow,

Deep in the Black Hills of South Dakota

Seeing the world through artist’s eyes

Is a gift my Grandmother gave me

Poet and painter, beloved English teacher,

Nana celebrated God through nature

Seeing the world through artist’s eyes

Is a gift my Mother gave me

She wrote humorous verse with great joie de vivre

And played the piano with much vim and vigor

Seeing the world through artist’s eyes

Is a gift my Mothers gave me

When I grasp pen or brush I can’t wait to see

Which Muse manifests to inspire me

Marguerite Jill Dye

FIRST POEM ON THE DECK!         

I know I’m not alone

when that buzzing nears my ear.

No, not the irritating mosquito

about to land and bite my neck,

or the cursed zzz of the horsefly

who feasts on me then leaves a welt.

But more a vibration than a sound

that makes me pause in mid air

to not scare away the timid beast

who, hovering, seeks to nourish its fluttering.

I know I’m not alone

when the hummingbird appears.

Marguerite Jill Dye  5/29/10

 

WHAT IS IT ABOUT MEN?

What is it about men and their wood saws?

When we looked out through walls of glass,

Low limbs and trees blocked the road from view.

Nestled in our private lodge,

Perched upon one mountain,

Looking towards the next

But when the men folk of the family

Got hold of a power saw

That pounded my ear drums

And shook the woods to its roots,

Creatures fled for their lives

As branches and trees fell

And, alas, the road appeared in view.

What is it about men and their lawn mowers?

Once upon a time the hill behind our lodge

Was sprinkled with wildflowers —

Daisies and buttercups,

Chickory and clover in red, white and purple.

Black-eyed Susans welcomed me

As I wandered through Queen Ann’s lace.

Indian paint brush inspired me

As I chose just the right spot

To sit and paint, dream and write.

Low limbs and trees shielded me from the world

While wildflowers on the hill

Enchanted me with their charm.

Under the Milky Way at night

I’d watch for shooting stars

Then make a wish that this would never end.

PLEASE STILL THE SAW AND LAWN MOWER

So I might paint and dream again

In nature’s beauty and quietude.

Long ago Dad answered Mom’s pleas

By saving a patch of wildflowers for me

To paint as prolifically as I pleased

Whenever I’d come to stay for a spell

But for years now Dad hasn’t been here to save the patch

Or Mom to lobby on my behalf

And the evil lawn service with their brutal machine

Has passed this way again and again

To cut off their heads with the guillotine!

 

Yet miracle of miracles,

Rejoice!  Rejoice!

My husband has succumbed, at last,

To my plea for peace in the meadow

And once again, they no longer fall.

My beloved wildflowers are standing tall

                                      Marguerite Jill Dye

 

HOW PRECIOUS IS THIS DAY?

Dew drop diamonds fall like rain

Then golden sun appears again

Silver birch, emerald moss

Sapphire skies of Vermont, above

Copper log, jewel-like lichen

Quartz crystal trail that I hike on

How precious is this day?

The Last Warm Rays

The last warm rays of golden light

seek me out through trunks and boughs of

dappled leaves, chartreuse and forest green.

I pull wool throw up to my chest

as sun falls below the silhouette

of misty mountain grey-blue haze,

backlit by glowing clouds, ablaze.

Serenity is mine at this end of day.

 

WHITE BIRCH

A sole birch tree stands where once, there were three.

It survived winter’s wrath and disease,

Standing stoically amidst the dark pine,

Maple, spruce, elm and beech trees.

That birch is a witness of forty-one years.

While discovering Vermont, Dad staked his claim.

We helped him build a grand ski lodge

That sits atop a mountain ridge.

We cleared the land and laid foundation.

Cement blocks formed our cellar shell.

A tar paper roof needed much attention

Each week, new leaks, when downpours fell.

We skied in winter and camped out

In basement shelter with pot belly stove.

When fired up, the ice would melt

And take away the bitter chill.

Now, no longer a rustic cabin,

It’s a beautiful ski lodge made of wood.

60’ x 30’ with tall glass walls

High in the tree tops with mountain view.

The greatest gift my Dad could give us

Was to follow his dream without limit or fear.

Now that he’s gone, the white birch stands

Reminding us all that his spirit is near.

 

ODE TO A RAINBOW COLEUS LEAF

I remember the morning I sat by your side

Drawing your elaborate structure of veins

That spread out to reach each ripple and fold

Of your delicate edge I so admired

I was dismayed when the India ink

Dropped a splat from the tip of my pen.

I calmed myself down and envisioned, instead,

A circle of balance in a moment of Zen.

Your colors amazed me – first a watercolor wash

Of aureolin yellow then rose madder blush,

Touches of violet for shadowy depth

Then viridian strokes applied with my brush.

I sat there for hours, drawing and painting

Then noticed a sound, soft and recurring.

I listened intently – What could it be?

The sound of a Rainbow Coleus heartbeat.

 

INSPIRED DESIGN

Your twists and turns, truly ingenious,

Create a symmetrical design

Each slightly different color and size

Is a work of art, inspired, divine

Some are tinted orange and red

Or mottled brown and gold

Occasionally a green leaf still lingers,

Clinging to its skyward home.

As days grow colder and nights a bit longer

Our woods transform in hue

From verdant shades to a riot of colors

In neon, backed by deep evergreen.                                        

 

LEAF ART

I reached out and grasped the branch

To paint upon its sycamore leaves

They clung, in turn, to the limber limb

That patiently posed for the artist in me

I carefully pressed the painted leaves

Onto print-making paper from a zinc plate

Printing the living impression that was

Still attached to its buoyant branch

Then I gently washed the paint off each leaf

Releasing the bough back to the tree

Like a finger print this work of art

Reveals this sycamore’s lifespan,

One tree in fall that proudly stands

Beside our Vermont cabin.

 

ANTITHESIS

War is brewing, spewing from talking heads

Whose voices filter through the screen door

Out onto my deck, my own safe haven,

Heaven high up Vermont’s verdant mountains

Where leaves blow against periwinkle sky

And silver-white clouds, not missiles, pass by

My mountain woodland soothes my nerves as

Congress debates what’s left of its conscience

Weapons of mass destruction intrude

Once cried by the wolf who led us to war –

The antithesis of the peace we seek –

But now, so blatantly diffused

Like an end-of-earth movie I never could see

How could we possibly not react?

As members of the human race

How could we not stop this terrible act?

Without this peaceful haven I often

Wonder if I could continue to exist

In a world where cruelty and pain

Seem the norm again and again.

To come to this place perched high, close to God,

Gives me the strength to carry on.

 

UNDER THE SPELL                        

Twin fallen birch by water’s edge,

not beavers’ work with carving teeth,

but rain water washing above the shore

that toppled the giants to their end.

Knobby, gnarled roots, standing tall,

         clutch a rock in mighty grasp,

         like a jewel in its setting, all entwined –

         such handiwork, I pause to admire.

North wind blows to lake’s south shore

where pretty prism dancing waves

toss water lilies to and fro as

sunlight spotlights rocks below.

Kayaks drift, floating on ripples,

         reflections, like brush strokes,

         blend with white birch stripes,

         criss-crossing shimmering, silver sea.

Steep slope boulders and stones,

frozen in time, prepare to plunge

into deep water, hover on shoreline or

challenge the hiker with bumpy terrain.

Chipmunk charges boldly across my path

         and chirps a warning to its mate.

         I slowly return to civilization on the north shore

         where tadpoles zig and zag

In desperate dash to escape

toddlers’ toes, shovels and nets.

Another day passes, filled with discovery and delight,

under the spell of Emerald Lake                        

 

KENT POND

Brook cascades, white bubbles foam

Rapids flow around the rocks

Ferns tickle my knees as I pass by

Forget-me-nots along the way

Broken birch I step across

Tree trunks down all around

Has a Nor’easter just passed through?

Sharp teeth, short work, the beaver’s doom

Speckled sunlight, leaf-strewn floor

Glistening water through bouncing boughs

Kent Pond dances in evening breeze,

Water lapping upon its shore

Terraced steps of woven roots

Along the trail to trip me up,

Tracking who has turned the bend

Paw prints in mud of man’s best friend

Quiet cove where ducklings hide

Under their mother, still as stone,

I hold my breath as I pass by

But step on sticks along the way

Kent Pond shimmers as twilight falls

Enchanting my spirit, making me whole,

A far-away loon’s hypnotic call

Sending me home to the

man I love

 

A FAMILY OF DREAMERS                                

I come from a family of dreamers and I thank my lucky stars each day!  I experience life as a series of opportunities that we create, because I believe that life is what we make it.

My Mother always said, “Be careful what you wish for.  In our family, dreams tend to come true”.  Mom was a visionary.  Whatever she envisioned, she created through a very strong will and positive attitude.  Some might call it “wishful thinking”, but she always got results.  When confronted with an unsavory experience, she transformed it through humor.  Her poetry poked fun at life and lifted the spirits of those who crossed her path.  She accomplished feats against all odds through perseverance, and lived the Law of Attraction by focusing on the positive, thus attracting more of the same.  She was a student and fan of Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking and integrated it into her everyday life.  My Mother was a power to reckon with if you weren’t on board, and the first person you’d want on your team when faced with a challenge.  She was stoic, steadfast and strong, and gave no power to negative thought or focus.  Mom should have been a Christian Scientist because she didn’t believe in illness and would ignore ailments until they simply went away, which they usually did. 

Even my Dad, a left-brained mechanical engineer, turned out to be a dreamer.  When opportunity knocked to buy land in the Green Mountains of Vermont in 1957, Dad took it without hesitation and later informed us that he had always dreamed of building a ski house in the mountains. For the next fifty years he followed his dream, spending weekends, vacations, then six months a year living in Vermont, working on his dream.  He was a hard worker and perfectionist who took satisfaction in a job well done.  Building a 30′ x 60′ two story ski lodge way up in the mountains was no easy feat.  Dad loved the great out of doors above all else, and found his greatest pleasure surrounded by nature.  I wish he could have been a park ranger among wildlife in the wilderness instead of cooped up in an office in a large corporation under the pressure of sales.  But he followed his bliss by leading us to Vermont to build a house and live his dream. 

As I glance up from my writing to see Pico and Killington Mountains through vast, glass-walls, I am ever so grateful that our reality is to be living in the manifestation of Dad’s dream.                                  Marguerite Jill Dye