After last night's drama, we drove non-stop, straight into this morning. We're exhausted, but we have an appointment to make: Tim Schmalz of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture is coming to inspect our land, to make sure it won't be susceptible to infestation by phragmites reeds. If we pass his examination, we'll receive a permit to bring the reeds to our land, despite the quarantine on their transport.
When we cross the state line into Vermont, I feel as though I've collapsed into a long, loving hug. A burdensome weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and the last vestiges of my weary grumpiness disappears, along with billboards, housing developments, and traffic. Wending our way up Maple Hill Road at last, finally arriving at our weathered gate, waves of relief and excitement wash over me. This seemingly ill-fated journey is finally at its end. We did it! We're home at last!
With an hour to spare before our meeting with Tim, we park on the side of the road and hike up our drive to see if it's as bad as Rick had warned. Gleefully clambering upwards, climbing over fallen trees that block our way, we are hopeful about the state of our road. The ground is frozen now—there isn't any mud or standing water, and it seems that if we get the trees out of the way, we might just be able to pull our trailer up to the clearing.
Feeling confident about the drive, we continue hiking through the woods towards the southern edge of our property. As we walk, we talk excitedly about how good it feels to be here during this season—this is our first time seeing the land in winter! It's very different from what we're used to—the topography is easily navigable since there's no vegetation in the way, the sky feels vast against the bare, spindly treetops, and our pond is now an ice rink!
But the best winter surprise of all? We are surrounded by majestic mountain views! "Look at THAT!" I shout unnecessarily loudly, smacking Tyler on the shoulder for emphasis. "I'm lookin'!" he says, just as pleased as I.
The meeting with Tim goes off without a hitch. He's friendly, professional, and interested in our project. He doesn't bat an eye when we pepper him with questions, and he happily answers them all, freely sharing his knowledge about our trees and plants. Most importantly, Tim decides that our land won't be susceptible to the propagation of phragmites, and agrees to give us a permit to move them here. Wahoo!
Tim also tells us what a great job we did picking this plot, and what an amazingly low price we got it for. "If you ever decide you don't want it anymore, you give me a call," he says, as he hops in his car to head home. Of course, this makes us feel pleased as punch. In fact, we feel better than we have in days. We're here. We've made it at last. There are no more appointments to make, and nowhere else we have to be.
Now we just need to get up our drive!