Last winter was an especially cold and icy one in Vermont, and a plague of cabin fever raged across the land. “Never again!” my yoga teacher/herbalist/painter/gardener friend and I swore when it was over. (My friend\’s name is Dona Friedman, and you can see her work at artistseyestudio.com)
When the days started getting shorter this fall we began casting about for ways to keep ourselves and our friends lively and amused in the dark days ahead. We wanted something easy, basically an excuse to get together with people we like on a regular basis and with a minimum of fuss.
Just about everyone who moves to Vermont—or is born here and decides to stay—has an interesting story. People around here invent their lives and themselves in the best existentialist sense of the word. They blow glass, raise sheep, dry herbs, give massages, run for office…and there\’s never enough time to hear their stories when you meet them at a party or the post office.
Why not, my friend and I said, ask one of these interesting friends and neighbors to talk informally about his or her life and passions, and invite other friends and neighbors to drop in and listen? In a word, why not have a Salon?
So we did. Yesterday, Sunday, was the first one. There were nine people in all. Joanne Smith told us of her transformation from knitting aficionada in Connecticut to serious shepherd in Vermont. She was eloquent and witty, and told us amazing and intimate things about sheep. She let us feel the soft, lustrous yarns spun from the prize-winning wool of her Romneys. She spread out a sheepskin that would have made Jason and the Argonauts set sail for Vermont. She told us about Toby, her sheepdog, more of a friend and colleague than a dog. (You can see Joanne\’s farm, her sheep, and Toby at bearmountainfarm.com)
We drank wine, ate cheese, asked Joanne questions and talked about whatever came into our heads. There was a fire going in the stove, and our little living room rang with talk and laughter.
It was way more fun than a movie, or a play, or a cocktail party. It was a salon, i.e., people turning to each other for stimulation, companionship, and that mysterious something that humans have been getting, since time immemorial, from sitting around a fire, talking.