Tunbridge: A Place for Friends and Family
Barbara Leggat and Joan Perera donated 153 acres in Tunbridge to UVLT this spring. Their families enjoyed tent camping in Tunbridge on this land for years. UVLT will conserve the property and sell it, using the proceeds to conserve more land. Barbara describes this as a “double benefit.” Below are Joan’s remembrances of time in Tunbridge. Family photos have been provided by Barbara. Thank you to both of them for their loving stewardship of the land for all these years and for the foresight to protect the land for the future.
Father’s Day Weekend in June meant a camping trip to Tunbridge, VT. Into each of our cars, we piled tents, sleeping bags, a Coleman stove, coolers, a tarp, an axe, a saw, geodetic survey maps, binoculars, and an Army bugle – used, teasingly, for morning reveille. Rain or shine, the three day weekend took place, and it was enjoyed by several families, all of whom loved the out-of-doors. This Father’s Day camping tradition stretched over 40 years. In time, the children around the campfire, or in the fields, were our grandchildren; however, even when the youngest generation was absent, Tunbridge continued to be special to us and our good friends who enjoyed the pleasures of outdoor living.
From 1968 through the 70s and 80s, our land was grazed by our neighbor’s dairy cows. They kept the meadows open, and from high points of land, we could see the mountains in the distance.
What was special about Tunbridge? For suburban children, it was an eye-opener to watch the cows being milked at daybreak. Waking at sunrise was special. For all of us, food tasted better when cooked outside, and we set up our field kitchen under a grove of senior Maple trees. We took long walks to distant fields identifying the familiar wild flowers along the way: Indian Paintbrush; dandelions, buttercups, daisies. Wild strawberries were abundant, and we picked them enthusiastically.
Sometimes we had six or seven families camping on the land and with lots of children in the mix, we sometimes played Capture the Flag in the big open field. There was always a birder or two among us who identified the lilting calls of the Hermit Thrush and the White-Throated Sparrow. A hike to Kibling Hill was popular, and on a clear day we could see Mt. Mansfield to the northwest.
Saturday night’s campfire meant roasting marshmallows and listening to a ghost story or two. On a clear night, we could glimpse the Milky Way, find the North Star, and identify the Big and Little Dippers, among other constellations.
In Tunbridge, the pace was relaxed, the conversations were deep and unhurried, and we returned home full of good food, pure Vermont air, and good friendships. Each year, we took a tangible bit of Vermont back home with us in the form of a gallon of Tunbridge maple syrup, a gift from our neighbor in thanks for tapping our maple trees and for grazing his cows on our land – a winning arrangement for all!
In recent years, we’ve been thinking about the future of our land in Tunbridge. Conserving it was appealing to us. We heard about the Upper Valley Land Trust, and when we met with President Jeanie McIntyre, we were inspired by the mission of UVLT. The commitment to preserving natural habitats and to conserving land for human enjoyment was our hope for the land that was special to us for 52 years.