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Averyt: Finding Home

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http://www.vpr.net//audio/programs/56/2013/03/Averyt-0305.mp3

(Host) 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 parka.

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 sunny day.

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.