by Rebecca Morean
I grew up in the California desert and moved to Vermont as a young bride and lived there for nearly twenty years. I want to move back.
I hiked beautiful trails down dirt roads, I lived through ice storms and power outages, cooked on a wood stove during those times and lit candles. Raised our children to ski and sled, and drink hot chocolate out of a thermos, and ice skate down frozen creeks. Talked incessantly with friends over the burn of woodstoves. Saw the sky flicker magically with green and purple with the aurora borealis while we all shivered in bathrobes. Watched the snow melt, smelled lilacs, planted seeds. Witnessed the tender duality of new leaves sprouting from trees in the colours of their previous fall before turning green. Eating fiddleheads, tiny baby ferns, curled tight like leafy fists, tasting strong and pungent, with lots of garlic and butter. In summer, we swam in gorgeous rivers tossed with granite of all colours, had picnics in our own backyard along the Connecticut River, made ice cream, had cookouts with friends and talked about the wood we would stack for those woodstoves, had stacking parties, found frogs.
But it was fall that made my heart sing. Actually sing. Fall in Vermont is the stuff of dreams. Cool breezes, indescribable colors shifting in the sky at dawn and dusk, and during the day with leaving swaying. The smell of early smoke in the air. Crisp air and crisp sounds. Heavier clothes that could be shucked away in a moment and you were still warm. This was fall.
So when I wrote We’ve Got This I set it in one of my favourite places. Now that I am living in Ohio, it was glorious to return to Vermont in my mind and paint the picture of Harvey, the fictional town with all the regulars. The push and pull Vermonters have between old and new results in comedy and practicality. You could step into a store that was built in 1850, get fresh-churned ice cream, and you would remain oblivious to the camera in the corner….a nice mix of the romantic with practical and a perfect metaphor for Kate and Ryan. She’s the practical school teacher turned screenwriter, focused on hiding herself away. He’s the Emmy-winning television doctor just looking for honesty in his work again. Subterfuge and blinding truth; that friction felt real until they both let their defences down and found romance.
Vermont and the Eastern Maritimes, where they go to look for whales, provided the kind of gorgeous, quiet backdrop these two characters needed to find each other. A city would not work. The glamour and rush, the congestion and digital time-keeping would make it nearly impossible to create what they needed to recreate themselves. And there are too many resources in a city. Too many ways out and excuses. Vermonters help each other. Resources are scarce. A mall may be a two-hour trip. There are no Walmart stores in Vermont. If you drive off the road in winter, you might freeze if someone doesn’t stop to help. That relying on each other, realising ‘this is it, it’s up to us’ was the kind of world I had to build to get these two together and keep them together.
Vermont is cold, brilliant, tender and green, and in the fall it is filled with red, orange, purple, yellow, brown and the soulful smear of every colour in between. For two people at a crossroads in their life, small-town life, with its characters and idiosyncrasies, its scrubbed beauty and aura of hope and community, fit not only the story I wanted to tell, but allowed me to move back there….if only in my mind.
A Cinderella story about mothers and movie stars, mud boots and Manolo Blahniks, and dreams that do come true.