Farewell to the Kingdom

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(Host) Commentator Jules Older has packed his bags; now he’s waving from the window and shouting a final farewell as the car pulls out of the drive.

(Older) All this summer, I’ve been thinking about Albany. That’s Albany, Vermont, the Soul of the Kingdom. Been thinking about what binds me to the place like the morning glories that are wrapping themselves around the railing of my front porch.

Here’s my list of the ties that bind:

Friends. I get by with a little no make that ‘a lot’ of help from my friends. We eat together, hike together, and sing together. Oh, how I’ll miss that old gang of mine.

Neighbors, especially my nearest, dearest neighbor, octogenarian Kate Davis. Kate’s been paying me in Vermont’s greatest rolls, hot out of the oven, every time I move one of her flower pots or slip the extra leaf in her dining room table. She watches over our home with the protective eyes of a mama bear, and, as a retired nurse, she doles out advice and crutches, bedpans and canes, to the rest of Albany.

My garden, especially the veggie garden. I am deeply rooted in the dirt of Albany, and I’ve fed that dirt with homemade compost since the day I moved here from Brownington, 15 years ago.

Dandelions. I’ve whiled away many an hour beheading them in Albany. They’re a great and pleasurable time-waster and sanity improver.

The Kingdom. Why a Jewish kid from Ballamer is so in love with this cold, remote, semi-lawless, exceptionally wild, Take Back Vermont place is beyond me. But love it, I do.

Why? I suspect that all that wildness is the big attraction. I grew up in sameness, blandness and predictability. But in the Kingdom, you can’t even predict this afternoon’s weather, or whether a moose or a bear is gonna step out of the bushes as you bike down Route 14.

Mob that Mountain. For the past year or so, I’ve been part of a spontaneous, recurring event where friends and strangers meet at the foot of a Vermont mountain at a given time and date, and hike together to the summit.

We’ve also kayaked together, swum together, explored a Quebec mine together. How sweet it is. Or was.

Because by the time you hear this, Effin and I will have the car all packed, the bikes on the back, the tapes in the player. We’re on our way to San Francisco.

We’re moving to the heart of the city. Gonna miss that garden, miss those dandelions. And miss you, too. I’ve done a lot of commentaries with you in mind.

And I’ve closed every one of them with the same tag line: This is Jules Older in Albany, Vermont, the Soul of the Kingdom.

So let me say it again, one last time: This is Jules Older in Albany, Vermont, the Soul of the Kingdom.

Jules Older is the author of more than 20 books for children and adults and is a passionate outdoors enthusiast. He spoke to us from the Fairbanks Museum in Saint Johnsbury.

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