As a young wife and mother, I lived in Burlington and was a typical housewife – mother of two, a school and community volunteer. Raising two children at home and often lonely, with my own parents and siblings in other states, I remember feeling that this nuclear family style was not to my liking: there had to be a better way to live and to raise children. In 1978 I was divorced and moved to Massachusetts soon after, where I became a technical writer, then taught middle school science in Lincoln, MA. After ten years of teaching, I retired (on the early side) and got involved with local land conservation efforts, birding, and a weekly watercolor group. Life was good.
In the twenty years I was in Massachusetts, my son and daughter went through high school, college, then post graduate work, and both are now married with two children each. Peter is in California and Heather’s family is in South Burlington. For the past few years I’d been considering returning to Vermont, to be near Heather and the Green and Adirondack mountains, and a community that I love. When Heather learned that a cohousing group was forming in Charlotte, she sent me an ad in the fall of 2003. I called immediately and soon met the brave and energetic people who had begun this big venture. After a grand tour of the property with Larilee, and a dinner party at her house, I was sold. In short, I jumped in with both feet. Finally, in May 2006, I said my good byes in Lincoln and moved to Vermont.
It has been exciting to be one of the early residents here, witnessing the transformation of our property from overgrown pastures of milkweed, goldenrod and grasses, to a vibrant, energy-efficient community. We now have fifteen attached and free-standing homes occupied, and a fourth house is under construction, scheduled for occupancy in the spring. We range in age from infants to the grandmotherly types with eight young families in residence.
There is a wonderful sense of comraderie that continues to evolve as new people join; it is a benefit that I did not and could not have anticipated. We have a fantastic group of people, and I feel so lucky. Two mothers, who recently moved here, have both said to me: “I LOVE this place!! My children are so happy.” We share meals together a few times a week, outside on the picnic tables all summer long, and as the weather has turned colder, we gather in each other’s homes. It is amazing how many superb cooks live here: our potluck dinners are always delicious and nutritious.
A big event for me this year has been the design and construction of my own timber frame house in the SE corner of the building complex. Construction began in February, and I moved in August 2nd. Since then I have spent entire days settling in, feeling a bit like a hermit for a while. When I need company, I simply walk outside, to the playground, the gardens, or to a friend’s home.
In short, I love being a part of this community. There is still much to do, as we evolve, making decisions as we go that will affect the future of our community; the Common House design is being hammered out, and we’re slowly bringing farm animals here and planning additional gardens; already we have some sheep, pigs, and a flock of chickens. New people continue to visit, and some have stayed. It is truly one of the best adventures of my life.