Like Butterflies, We Float…

14 Sep

Sometimes, we don’t know where we’re headed until we get there.  Like a book cover, we’re drawn to it by the vibrancy of the image, a picture that resonates with us or simply because it catches our eye.  We’ll take a shot in the dark; a chance; a risk – and in doing so, we’ll replace a different story back on its shelf (that could have been our own).

In some ways, this is how I happened upon the Burlington Hostel, on Main Street in Vermont’s northern town, on the banks of Lake Champlain.  Walking down the hill from the Megabus stop, I passed beneath a canopy of trees, stretching the entire street.  On the way to the waterfront, strangers wearing hemp, kids carrying skateboards and students with daisies in their hair greeted me as though they had been expecting me.  When I stepped through the doors of the hostel, I actually was expected and was just as warmly greeted by Olga, our host.

The brochure offers a welcome to ‘gentle guests’ especially, and this is mimicked by the ‘no footwear’ rule which also translates to the clean, airy and instinctive feel of the building.  Olga leads me to the front dorm which is sunny and light.  There aren’t many dorms in the entire hostel and each one is separated by a simple, canvas curtain.  Breakfast serves warm waffles with maple syrup (harvested during Vermont’s Sugaring Season) and freshly brewed coffee on tap.  Real butter melts comfortingly over the criss-cross layers of foamy, crisped-up batter.

There’s a real family atmosphere and often I would arrive in at the (granny-like) hour of 9pm after a day of window-shopping on Church Street, Creemee Licking on the waterfront, and lake swimming bliss – to find a living-room spattered with individuals reading, emailing or napping.  Crowded, sometimes, but never cluttered – and always space to breathe.

Burlington Hostel is a bolt-hole for anyone at a crossroads in their life.  Just a short walk from Lake Champlain and the main hub of Church Street, it is also a place which seems to intuitively read its guests and somehow magnetise just the right amount of conversation, company or people, towards each one.  It somehow knows what we all need.  For me, it meant crossing paths with like-minded people from all across the globe – sharing stories, encouraging and recognising our own talents and ambitions. 

I was fortunate to meet Chip, a warm-hearted motorcyclist and massage-therapist from Vermont; Leah, a former Finland-footstepper and writer from California; Steve, an awesome and infectious lighthearted spirit working with kids at the YMCA.  Also Annalouise, a NYFA graduate with an open smile and hopeful attitude to life, like noone else I had met.  Then there was Ashlee from Dallas in Texas whom I shared a couple of insightful breakfast chats with.  Last but not least, our hosts – Olga and Brian – who were kind, helpful and even sent me on my way with a glass bottle of real, pure, Vermont maple syrup – an amazing gift.  Add to this, the generous (with conversation) strangers whom I came into contact with, throughout my five days in Burlington, and it’s no wonder I ‘accidentally on purpose’ missed my bus back – and decided to postpone it for the following day!

As the man on the beach said, walking with his two dogs, as we looked across the jagged, soft edges of the Green Mountains – “I want to see as many sunsets as possible…”

It seemed that most people in this town are on some sort of spiritual journey, and, by chance, I stumbled across a slab of marbled rock on the beach which simply had the following words inscribed, in permanent ink:  “Trust the universe has a plan for you.  You are right where you need to be.”

And, as I drank Americano in a local cafe, with a new friend with red, rosy cheeks and a lust for life that radiated to everyone he met, thinking about leaving this town – he said a few words, “Perhaps, you timed it just right…”


One Response to “Like Butterflies, We Float…”

  1. Laura September 15, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    Beautiful! I can understand why you loved it so much, it captured your heart and your dreams that place xx

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