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Averyt: Voyages of Discovery

Say what you will about Christopher Columbus, but you can't deny that this sea captain loved a good adventure. Apparently, he hatched his plan of exploration after reading "The Travels of Marco Polo" and set off to reach Asia by traveling west.

His calculations were flawed, but he still managed to convince wealthy neighboring monarchs to finance his adventure and off he went in search of Asia, finding the East Indies instead.

Mark Twain also loved a good adventure. His young hero Huck Finn floated down a river that was almost as inhospitable as the turbulent Atlantic Ocean. But Twain's advice when asked about the value of adventure was: "Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Sharing that same spirit, I'm off on an adventure soon myself, a visit to celebrate the wonder of new life. My vessel will float on a south wind to Washington, DC, the place my sons now call home. It's also the hometown of my granddaughter and the population there is about to increase by one. Granddaughter number two is responsible for that and I want to be on hand for the beginning of her great adventure.

My own sons and my first granddaughter have taught me that there is no one who loves adventure more than a child. They're off to explore the world as soon as they can crawl, finding endless adventure in the backyard grass or exploring a discarded cardboard box. They look at the world through eyes of curiosity, explore through touch and taste; their imagination limitless.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said "I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity." Well, there's no end to my grandchild's curiosity, to her sense of wonder.

But there are all kinds of adventure s and they aren't solely the domain of the young. I have a friend who’s a doctor, and another, a stone carver. I have a nephew who waits table so he can live his dream to be a singer and I have a sea captain friend who spins tall tales, speaks bits and pieces of strange languages and has never lost his wanderlust, his love of adventure.

Perhaps that’s actually what we should be celebrating on this holiday in mid-October. Not the legacy of Columbus, who may or may not have first discovered America, but the spirit of adventure - the willingness to set sail on uncharted waters, to gaze at the distant horizon and dream of what lies beyond – to experience the joy of sitting in the grass with a child, renewing our faith in fairy dust, eating ice cream from a runcible spoon and looking up into a Vermont night, watching a spotted Holstein leap the moon in a single bound.

Free lance writer, Anne Averyt, lives in South Burlington, with her cat Sam and as many flowers as possible.
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