Green Glass

Chubby toddler hands clasped in my own, I strolled the rocky beaches of Lake Champlain looking for “green glass” in the morning dawn. As our toddlers became taller, the morning ritual of treasure hunting continued; the glass and rocks still collected to be admired for old and new inspirations. The rhythm of stooping and selecting, the sharing of finds, the careful steps chosen, had been a part of mine and my children’s lives for the past 20 years.

The Whites have been coming together on Lake Champlain going back to my kid’s great, great grandfather, T.A. Unsworth. His daughter, Jim’s gramma Arlene, then bought her “little” place down the shore from T.A. when it became available from the late Tiffany family. Arlene was a modern-gal, the first woman underwriter for New York Life Insurance, divorced and raised her 3 kids on her own, passed out subscriptions to “Ms.” magazine when she met her future grandaughters-in-law, and constructed an updated home in the place of the Tiffany’s three-story Victorian.

Since we started bringing our own babes and now grown kids to the lake, we arrived with our vehicles chock-full of bicycles, boats, sewing machines, dogs, cats, the bunny, and yes, even our ducks came one year. For the past couple of years we’ve been able to borrow space at a kind neighbor’s barn so that we could also bring our horses with us. Family reunions, weddings, funerals, birthday parties and holidays have been shared for as long as my husband can remember. Cousins, uncles and aunts have come together for support to scatter parents’ and grandparents’ ashes from the boat.

We have to sell the place. We can’t afford the taxes, even though we split the property three ways with Jim’s brothers. It is one of those classic “the locals can’t afford to live here anymore” situations.

Our neighbors, deeper pockets to our left and right, have bought us out. They want this property which has possibly the best natural shoreline on Lake Champlain. They are going to level our house at the end of this month and divvy amongst themselves.

Here’s where you get my “anger” stage of grief:  The new owners will probably throw a nice party to celebrate the White Trash that is leaving the neighborhood(that is the running family joke.) Then they’ll commence to build multimillion dollar stone retaining walls, manicured pathways with trendy lighting and employ the best landscape architects that money can buy so that they can recreate Shangrila. Then, for a finishing touch, they’ll install some tasteful fencing.

It’s too sad when you have to sell out. No matter what. I initially wanted to be the pillar and declared “There’s no crying in second homes.”

But I sat on the shores this morning, and well, I cried.

strolls, saved on the mantel

So, sad as it is, I recognize that lessons develop character. You swallow hard and stay positive. March on and figure out how you can give to someone in more need. Gain perspective.

After all, our lives are embedded and blessed with those soul-soothing walks from seasons past. The physical world can change all it wants; we’ve got our memories, we’ve got our faith.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. uff, assh,Tammy, I’m sorry to hear this, but yes always look on the bright side of life, and at least you have all the good memories. I must admit that there are some people I really don’t understand like the folks we got some furniture from almost for free, because they changed their furniture each year, no sense for patina or memories there ! since I’m working with opera, I think I’ll write an opera about these lavish folks in order to try to understand what makes them doing things like buying loved places like yours and make palaces etc. and I’ll do it sitting in my old baggy overalls with a good cup of coffee and scones ! Have a nice Monday, greetings from the North where the sun shines now after it had been snowing and hailing all morning 🙂 Niels

    1. Good afternoon, Niels, and thank you for the very kind words of encouragement. I especially am touched that you would be inspired to incorporate the theme into an opera. I completely appreciate that! Truly there is plenty of fodder for good characters and beautiful music! I am sitting here with my baggy overalls and cup of coffee as I type -and I made fresh scones! We are kindred spirits!
      So I must say that your note is a bright spot in my morning, in my reflections on this sad time we are working through right now. Cheers, friend, and I hope that your snow and hail do not linger! I, myself, am about to go out and give my farm their breakfast and then plant tomatoes in the ground 🙂

  2. Oh Tammy I am so sorry to hear you are selling your beloved home on the lake. My family also has a camp on the lake that I have many wonderful memories of for many many years padt and I completely understand the tax game that is going on up there.

    Our camp is not a mansion yet it too is taxed like one. There is no cable, phone or drinkable water and the floors are on a slant which makes for good roads for matchbox cars. It is decorated with family members holding up big and little fish with the proudest of looks on our faces. It has an assortment of mismatched furniture and dishes, all still usable with memories of their own and where they came from before settling at the camp. We sit around looking out at the lake, we play card /board games, fish and listen to stories of old told for the hundreth time by my dad. The memories are worth more than the property itself, but without it, those memories would ever have been made.

    It is so sad that those who bought your camp on the lake will never understand what your collection of green glass means or make those kinds of lasting memories, but I hope somewhere deep down they can look beyond their million dollar home and see and feel the beauty and the simplicity that the lake itself gives off. As for you and your children, each time you look at those jars of glass, hold it and feel its smooth edges, I am sure it will take you back to the lake even if just for the moment and for that you are blessed! So it is alright to cry Tammy, it is a way of letting something so dear go and yes it hurts now, but it will ease with time. ((((hugs))))

    1. ((((hugs back Jewels!))))) Thanks for the love and the understanding. Yeah, it’s a tough time right now and you’re right, it will ease with time.
      Meanwhile your place that you spend your family time at sounds exactly like it holds the same magic for you all and I am so happy for you! Indeed, lot’s of blessings in this world…sometimes when we lose one blessing, it is to make room for new blessings, right?

      Happy Summertime, Julie – I sure did enjoy this wonderful Memorial Day Weekend weather and hope you got to enjoy it too!
      🙂

  3. Hi Tammy-I found you through Niels and just wanted to wish you strength in this moving on not of your making. Seeing all the green glass in the jars on the mantle brought tears to my eyes. Take good care-Laury Bourgeois

    1. Hi Laury:
      Thank you so much for such kind thoughts through the airwaves…your understanding and compassion are helpful at this time. You see it is more than a story about property. We’ll get through it, it is going to be hard for awhile, though. Thank you for lifting me up with just a few words.

  4. I wish I had more time to reply at length. This very same (sad) story will, I’m guessing, play out the very way you have described it – in our family. My wife’s parents own property on Cape Cod – and has for some time. Fill-in-the-blank with the details you provide in your post – they are the very same. I’m guessing we’ll have to sell out some day – financial pressures being what they are. What struck me about your post was the mention of green glass – sea glass. We have all collected it along the shore of the Cape for as long as we can remember – it is precious indeed. You will always have the collection of green glass (be very sure you take it with you) and lots and lots of wonderful memories. D

    1. Thank you, thank you. In particular, today is very raw, being the first of the month and officially knowing that it is not our family’s home anymore.
      Gosh I hope you don’t have to go through this. If there is anyway you are able to plan ahead for it, I hope that you will be able to cover your expenses. In a way, it taught us that it is so much easier on your children if you can leave them with as few material items as possible to have to manage. But of course, we wouldn’t have given up those wonderful family times on the Lake if we hadn’t had to. And we are not unhappy that we had the home in our lives. Everyone who has lost beloved pets or persons in their life may go through a phase of worrying/wondering that it makes sense to let yourself get close to anything -because the pain of letting go is so great. I recognize this phase. I am eager to be done with it, though.
      Thanks for the kind and caring words.

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