I spend a lot of time away from the Green Mountains – too much I sometimes think. But with the simple graces of memory and discovery I carry Vermont with me wherever I go. And it embodies my definition of home.
We built out house in Charlotte on an unpaved road during the summer of the Bicentennial –now almost four decades ago. That property gifted us with a tall, splendid and proud partner to our Vermont lives: Camel’s Hump Mountain. Looking out, or even up from sink and suds as we do dishes, straight ahead, is the mountain. Looking back at us. Always.
My notion of home is also shaped by the history we share, and the good and honorable society we have fashioned over time in these mountains. I think about it while far away and I’m always glad to come home.
Here are two examples of what is, matter-of-factly, done in other states but not here, and why therefore I think “here” ís better. Much. Across the top of an op ed page of a major south-west newspaper a bold headline asked: “Can we agree on acceptable process for executions/”
“Well, that’s grim”, I thought to myself, “but I don’t have to read it because we don’t execute people in Vermont.”
But I did anyway, only to discover – in clinically detached detail - what mixtures of chemicals – “cocktails” they’re called - can be used for the “acceptable process” in the many states that practice lethal injection.
Reminded me of Shakespeare’s three witches around the caldron chanting: “Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble.”
No place for that in Vermont.
Also common elsewhere is the partisan election of judges. Think of it this way and imagine a proud Lady Justice – blindfold and holding her scales. Then picture her also wearing a campaign button with the slogan ”Vote for me.”
Presumably Lady Justice would also have to solicit money for her campaign, since that’s what partisan candidates for judgeships have to do.
To quote former Supreme Court Justice Sandra O’Connor: “In too many states judicial elections are becoming prizefights... where special interests seek to install judges who will answer to them.”
In Vermont a non-partisan citizen committee scrutinizes candidates and recommends a few to the governor, who then makes a choice and submits it to the legislature for approval.
It’s an open, honorable process and Lady Justice never has to wear a campaign button.