Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Kittredge: Every Day

The harvest in Vermont is peaking. The beets are bursting their britches, the tomatoes finally donning their amazing technicolor dream coats of red and yellow and green and violet and gold.

The string beans are whipping us into submission with their astonishing vigor and productivity. And the zucchini, well, the zucchini. I’m reminded of the whimsical admonition that the only time you need lock you car in Vermont is in August because if you don’t, someone might fill it with zucchini.

We have so many vegetables that we put up a little roadside stand at the head of our driveway. It flies in the face of all serious marketing strategies: supply isn’t reliable, the prices are low and if it rains, we’re closed. It reflects more my love of my garden than any desire for profit: look, we can make delicious lemon bread out of golden zucchini! And isn’t Neon Chard gorgeous?

Though the garden is glorious, this summer has made me view its splendor a little differently. In the past several months, my circle of friends has experienced an inordinate number of sudden and tragic deaths. People are reeling, trying to acclimate to the new landscape and understand what’s happened.

One phrase has been going through my head all summer: Media Vita In Morte Sumus, In the Midst of Life We Are in Death. Dating back to the eighth century in France, it was immortalized by Thomas Cranmer during his tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury in the 16th century when he wrote the first sections of the Book of Common Prayer. Since then the phrase has become part of burial rites, Requiem Masses and choral adaptations. Inevitably, there is a solemnity to these pieces that seems to reflect only one side of the story.

In the Midst of Life We Are in Death. Certainly it is a reminder of our own mortality. But it is also a clarion call to life, to look and see how glorious our days are, even if they don’t seem to be.

A few weeks ago, shortly after one of my friends had died suddenly; I was pumping gas at one of the countless stations on Route 7. It was hot and noisy and the traffic was backed up and I was late and sad and then noticed I had a flat tire. And it struck me, “I am so lucky. So lucky to still be here, to be able to pump gas, sweat and squint at the sun.”

So I look at my garden and do not miss the fact that each plant is doing exactly what it should, pushing towards the next generation, doing its best to make the most vigorous seeds and powerful offspring, going to seed in glory. And what a beautiful sight it is and how lucky we are to be able to cultivate and nurture everything and everyone in our lives.

Every day is a gift.

Susan Cooke Kittredge is Associate Pastor of the Charlotte Congregational Church.
Latest Stories