Surrounded by Gardens and Positivity

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On a perfect Vermont summer day in July, complete with dazzling sunshine, a gentle breeze, and bright blue skies, I traveled over mountains and along dappled dirt roads to Cynthia’s house in Putney, Vermont. Her lushly landscaped home is situated towards the top of a hill, with expansive views to the southeast. A magical spot, made all the more so by the careful attention paid to the grounds and the house itself.

I was greeted by her adorable Australian Shepherd, Jack, and her attendant for the day. I had made a plan with Cynthia to chat with her so we could share her story with visitors to the Wheel Pad website. She asked me to join her on the patio, which I gladly did, taking a seat in the sunshine. I wanted to find out more about her life and the circumstances that led her to Wheel Pad.

I soon learned that being active and gardening is a passion shared by the whole family. Cynthia’s husband owns a landscape company (which helps explain the botanical garden quality of her yard), with their children often helping the business in the summer, and she delights in cultivating vegetables each summer. The whole family hikes, bikes, skis, and generally takes full advantage of the outdoor recreation readily available in Vermont (which includes dancing, of course!).

Before becoming a middle-grade classroom teacher in the local school, bringing her training in Gifted and Talented Education to a rural public school classroom, Cynthia enjoyed a career as a well respected professional storyteller. She traveled throughout New England to teach the art of storytelling as well as perform professionally. Her advanced degree in Folklore only hints at the passion Cynthia has for her work, as the stories we listen to and tell ourselves are powerful influences on our identity, shaping who we are and who we might become.

Cynthia’s narrative fully embodies the truths she has discovered as a storyteller. She speaks about her life, her interests and activities, in the present tense, as in “I ski, I hike, I bike”. Powerfully positive and consistent, she has made the conscious decision to tell her story the same way she has for decades. Her positivity buoys her spirit, and those around her, while she celebrates each day, and each milestone in her recovery, while she navigates this unexpected stretch on her life’s path.

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Luella Strattner