Reflections on My Sabbatical Summer

I have spent the last 10 weeks in Vermont enjoying a spectacular summer and reconnecting with friends and family. I left my last Air Force duty station following a 26 year career with pride and thankfulness, and looking forward to good thing to follow. I had expectations and a few goals for what I wanted to do, and wasn’t disappointed.

We started the summer with a three day road trip from Little Rock, Arkansas to South Hero, Vermont. We traveled quickly, eager to see my wife’s new niece and nephew, twins born in December and in Vermont for just a short time. The trip went smoothly and we cruised into South Hero on June 23d.

The weather was great, and stayed that way for 10 weeks. It was cool and comfortable, with just enough warm days to draw us into the lake for a swim from time to time. I’d say that next to family, the weather and the views were the most memorable parts of the summer.

When I mention reconnecting with family, I am referring to the fact that military service really limited our ability to visit home and see people very often. We saw relatives during this trip that we hadn’t seen in 30 or more years. They were for us a living testimony to how quick life is and why it is so important to get everything we can out of every day.

While this was a summer intended to be about leisure and recreation there was also a significant amount of work to do. Our hosts were in their eighties, and my wife’s uncle was recovering from a lengthy hospital stay so there were a lot of chores to be done around their property. We hauled trash, mowed and edged lawns, painted their camp, our home for the 10 week stay, and were the primary transportation option during our stay here. It was a labor of love and gratitude, and we tackled the work with a smile on our faces. I said it many time, “there is no such thing as a fat farmer.”

We ate like royalty! I worked on my grilling skills tackling new things like smoked boston butt and spareribs. I learned that preparation and patience were the keys to a really delicious meal. It was great to get positive feedback from our own guests when they came to camp for lunch.

My brother-in-law and I exchanged views on global economic tribulations and business opportunities over a few cold beverages. We certainly didn’t solve all the world’s problems, but we gave it a try!

My sister, and the lone member of the original Flint family to reside in the beautiful state of Vermont, visited often. Her great smile and quick offers to help out were deeply appreciated–we wish we could have seen even more of her.

I walked our dog every morning at about 5:00 a.m.–her idea not mine. It gave me a chance to watch dozens of breathtaking sunrises. I listened to music or my favorite encouraging podcasts. It helped me get the most out of each day that we spent here.

The first week of the summer my wife bought me a manual coffee grinder and a french press. As I sit here writing, I have the press in front of me and a cup of coffee in easy reach. It was a ritual that I repeated every day of this amazing summer.

I posted to several blogs, and expanded those I follow–and who follow me on Twitter. While I was on line often, I didn’t feel consumed by the need for connectivity. I think it kept my eyes held up, looking at and beyond the horizon and keeping me in touch and synchronized with those close and distant.

Thanks to the generosity of friends and their connections I even received a job offer about 7 weeks into the summer. This relieved me and my wife of anxiety about our future. We knew that the next step was underway and that we wouldn’t have to worry about it.

This summer was a gift. I will never forget it. Thanks to our hosts Pat and Ohmer, and to my wife, Shelly, sons John and Lee for this and so many other things.

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