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Now, five years into our rural adventure, this land of locavores and Community Supported Agriculture farms doesn’t seem so rural—until friends remind us that we have no broadcast television reception, no cable, no cell phone coverage.

None of which bothers me. Instead of watching TV and playing video games, Charlie and Joe spend most days outside, catching frogs and salamanders, "gardening," checking on baby birds, or, in the winter, sledding and skating on the pond (eat your heart out, Rockwell). Charlie has just added a set of deer antlers to the "museum" he’s set up in the tree house I built for him and Joe. And a few weeks ago, Lester watched a mountain lion walk through his field—the first confirmed sighting of a "catamount" in these parts in more than a hundred years.

Do we sometimes miss the city? Oh yeah. We miss the energy and the diversity, we miss our friends—though they come to visit us. We miss the midnight sushi runs and the easy access to music and art. We spend too much time and too much gas in the car. The four main seasons are great, but the lesser known minor ones, early spring "mud season" and late fall "stick season," can be depressing. And, when Lester decided to get into the "recycling" business last year, it took a few weeks to get used to the burgeoning junkyard near the foot of our driveway. But, as the old Vermonters will tell you, it’s his land.

Still, the biggest problem we’ve faced in moving here is the problem anyone faces anywhere: Changing your physical location is the easy part; changing what’s in your head is much tougher. For some reason, I had convinced myself that I’d automatically have more time once I got up here. But I still work too hard, I’m still far too caught up in getting things done. And just as I never took full advantage of New York, I don’t spend enough time biking, hiking—or simply watching the changing world right outside our door.

What I do appreciate, without qualification, are my neighbors. One wintry night, when Charlie was 20 months old, a case of croup got so out of control that his airway closed down, and he began to suffocate. We brought him to the emergency room at the nearby 17-bed hospital, but his condition continued to deteriorate. At 2 a.m. the ER doctor called for a rescue helicopter to rush Charlie to the pediatric intensive care unit at Dartmouth, where he would spend the next three days in critical condition.

Nowadays, when I look back on the episode, I don’t dwell on the memory of our unconscious child, hooked up to a mass of tubes and snoring machinery. What I think about was the moment when he sputtered and began to breathe on his own again. He blinked twice and looked up at the white jackets gathered over him and said: "Uh-oh."

My other enduring memory is that of the firefighters’ pickup trucks in the middle of a snowy hayfield, surrounding the rescue helicopter. It was 3 a.m., and the volunteers had come out to clear and illuminate the landing zone. As the paramedics loaded Charlie into the helicopter, our neighbors were there, circled around our son with their headlights on, lighting the way.

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  • I love the outdoors - and I hate the lifestyle that we all seem to be leading - captive in our homes…
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  • Well written and heartfelt. Three cheers for Vermont!
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  • Fantastic article! Battlebro sounds like a fantastic place for kids to grow up.
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