Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How to Have fun with less money or Where is that waterfall?

Families are worried. Everyone is wondering how we are all going to manage with less money to spend. Everyone. No matter what the circumstances may be, we are all thinking about reducing gratuitous spending. That means the entertainment budget, the vacation money, the weekend trips, tickets for amusement parks and similar expenses are OVER! What can a family do that is deeply rewarding, endlessly interesting, memorable and special without losing half a paycheck?

I am going to quote my grandfather, Aime Bisson of St. Johnsbury ( Does anyone remember Aime's Restaurant?-- that was our family business for 3 generations just east of St. J ) Aime used be baffled at the very idea of "entertainment." La Natur est GRATIS!" He used to say meaning the great outdoors in free. Meaning get on outa here and go have your own fun under the clear blue sky of Vermont.

There is a deeper meaning to all this-- people need nature. If someone gets cut off from the land and the weather, stops following the phases of the moon, loses interest in the changing seasons, that person risks falling into depression. An inexplicable loneliness sets it. Even in Vermont, people need encouragement and guidance to explore the outdoors. Odd, how much fear there is of the unknown. Fear and depression can shut people right down.

I am always surprised at how few people can give me directions to a natural feature near their town. I did a test recently in St. Johnsbury. I asked people how to get to Emersons Falls, a large, dramatic waterfall directly beside and visible from a paved country road 3 miles from the center of town. I asked 20 people, young and old. Seven people were able to tell me and thirteen had no idea, no clue, had never heard of it or "don't usually drive out that way."

I want my project for AOA to address these issues:
Families and finances: How to Have Fun with Less Money
Encourage people to avail themselves of the cost-free wonderment of the big green amusement park of real life. Forget Disneyland. (I have alway said I'd rather set myself on fire than go to Disneyland-- at least I would be having a REAL experience...)
Encourage Vermonters who are not yet involved in hiking and waterways to give it a try
Teach people how to look. The more you look at, the more there is. Skills are involved in looking, perceiving, noticing, Reading the landscape is fascinating-- areas of knowledge geology, botany, and drawing intersect, overlap, inform one another and give beauty and meaning to the viewer.

Just in case you wondered: Emerson Falls is located on the Old North Danville Rd. just west of the Rte 2 interchange at I-91. Follow signs to North Danville, take the first right hand turn onto Old North Danville Rd. The Sleepers River is on your left and you'll hear the falls before you see them.


Elizabeth Torak said...

Great post. I love what you say about people feeling lonely when they lose touch with nature. I experienced this when I got my first pet (as an adult)a few years ago, a yellow lab named Mika. The immediate effect was that a nagging sense of loneliness was gone. This loneliness perplexed me since it persisted in the face of friends, family, and a completely successful marriage. When Mika entered my life I realized that I had been lonely for a relationship with an animal ; this need could not be filled by human contact. Reading your blog I see that the same can be said of our relationship to nature.

I also like the way you characterize the action to be inspired by your proposal – an action that constitutes increased awareness. Good luck!

Ellen P. said...

Thanks so much for the directions to Emerson Falls- can't wait to go take pictures.

Curtis said...

I know Emerson Falls well. Its about 5 miles from my house. Anyone visiting the falls should get in touch and come out for a visit if they want. I remember going out to Emerson Falls when I was a kid and finding a really amazing abandoned foundation in the woods just across the road. The foundation was covered in moss, about 8 feet deep, and had hundreds of frogs living in the bottom. I also remember Aime's Restaurant well.