a new book bag

As some of you know, French was my first passion. The summers after seventh, eighth, and ninth grades I spent seven to nine weeks in Ferrisburg, Vermont at Ecole Champlain, a French camp on Lake Champlain. I just loved it.

While I was there, I had the opportunity to visit Middlebury College. I decided that’s where I would go to school. And I would live in their dorm Le Chateau and speak French all the time.

When I was a junior in high school, I spent a weekend skiing in North Carolina–in blue jeans. I froze. I decided I could not possibly go to school any farther north than North Carolina. I found a school as much like Middlebury as I could in North Carolina–Davidson College. That’s where I went, and I loved every second of it.

Nevertheless, I have always kind of regretted that I wimped out on my dream.

Tomorrow, with a different dream, I’m finally heading into a Vermont winter. I have snow boots, a down jacket, a hat, a scarf, gloves, and a new book bag. I’m going back to school–to Vermont College for my MFA in Writing.

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17 thoughts on “a new book bag

  1. From a fellow cold blooded person, my only question is do they not have a summer program?

    Actually, I would walk everyday, ten miles in the snow, barefooted, to do what you are doing. Since I’m not, I’ll live vicariously through you.


  2. Hiver sentimental

    Loin des vitres ! clairs yeux dont je bois les liqueurs,
    Et ne vous souillez pas à contempler les plèbes.
    Des gels norvégiens métallisent les glèbes,
    Que le froid des hivers nous réchauffe les coeurs !

    Tels des guerriers pleurant les ruines de Thèbes,
    Ma mie, ainsi toujours courtisons nos rancoeurs,
    Et, dédaignant la vie aux chants sophistiqueurs,
    Laissons le bon Trépas nous conduire aux Erèbes.

    Tu nous visiteras comme un spectre de givre ;
    Nous ne serons pas vieux, mais déjà las de vivre,
    Mort ! que ne nous prends-tu par telle après-midi,

    Languides au divan, bercés par sa guitare,
    Dont les motifs rêveurs, en un rythme assourdi,
    Scandent nos ennuis lourds sur la valse tartare !

    Émile Nelligan. 1879-1941.

    Et en musique…

    Je suis ravie de te voir concrétiser un de tes rêves en te rendant au Vermont pour tes études.

    Je ne sais pas quels sont tes auteurs de langue française préférés. Alors, je t’offres un rêve littéraire de ce grand poète québécois, Émile Nelligan. Il a écrit plusieurs oeuvres. Il suffit de le découvrir pour apprécier sa délicatesse.

    Je t’écrirai en Français, plus souvent!

    Bon voyage au Vermont!


  3. Wishing you all the best, Cynthia. Vermont College is where I earned my MFA and I had a wonderful learning experience there. That program holds a very special place in my heart. It’s a true writing community, and the faculty are very talented writers and dedicated teachers/mentors.


  4. I am always so pleased to learn of people living out their dreams. Good for you. As I say, this is not a dress rehearsal, it’s all we get. I’m sure you will do an excellent job getting that degree.


  5. The best part of enrolling in an MFA program is being in a community of writers for a couple of years. It’s wonderful, and I dearly miss it since I graduated from Emerson. I envy you that you will have this going forward. Best of luck with it. Wear warm socks!


  6. Thank you all for your nice send-off! I finally have a free minute this morning and in order to avoid an onslaught of emails in your in-boxes, I will respond to everybody in one email.

    Cal: Thanks, dear. Warm so far.

    Emily, Linda, Robin, Karyn, Sarah, LisaG: Thank you for your congratulations and best wishes. I appreciate them all.

    52 Faces: I am in the Writing Program in Fiction. I will try to post more details when I have time.

    Tricia: Yes, they have a summer program. I will be back in July. And I heard in a meeting yesterday that some people take longer to complete their degree by only coming in the summer. Sounds perfect for you.

    Mireille: Merci pour le poeme, le reve litteraire du poete Nelligan. J’adorais aussi la version au piano.

    Dory: I do remember now noticing that you had graduated from VCFA. I appreciate knowing that you had a wonderful experience here.

    Dkzody: Good point. This is all we get. Let’s do it!

    Kimberly: Yes, that community does seem to be developing already. Thanks for sharing your experience. So far my socks are doing their job.

    Again, thanks to everyone. Those of you with blogs, I miss my visits but hope to see what’s going on with you sometime in the next few days. Off to my first lecture in 30 minutes!


  7. Dear Cynthia,
    In my attempt to find out more about L’Ecole Champlain I found your site. I have always loved the location of Kingsland Bay State Park and have over the years picked up tid bits about Vermont history. I was was of the impression that the summer camp was for French girls who came to Vermont for the summer. There must be more to the story. If you have time, could you please share some more details with me since you attended the school for several summers before it closed?

    I am also in the process of planing my first trip to Paris in April. I regret I have no language skills other than some high school French while living in the midwest and at the time not being able to imagine having use for a second language.

    Are you still in Vermont for your writing program at Vermont College?



    • Hi Suzanne–so nice to hear from someone interested in Ecole Champlain! The camp was mostly for American girls–Victoria Lawford and Carol Maytag are two I remember for their famous families. Many of the counselors were from France, and Canada I think.

      We did horseback riding, sailing, judo, drama, tennis, swimming with Madame Curie. “Babe” was in charge.

      We ordered our “clothes”–from flannel pyjamas to blue shorts to red blazers on which various awards were sewn. I still have my red blazer in the attic. My “french day” pins were stolen several years back (I had put them in my jewelry box for safe-keeping).

      On Sunday we wore white and awards were given out for the week.

      It was the best of times.

      I’m back home now, will be back in Vermont in July.

      If you have more questions, ask away…


  8. Pingback: it’s been another year | catching days

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