Three years ago, I (Val) sent a note out to a group of friends and acquaintances to join me on a run across the Presidential range in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The Presidential Traverse (aka, the “Presi Traverse”) is a plus or minus twenty mile route across the high alpine summits of Northern New Hampshire. Todd, whom I had only met in passing a few months earlier, was the only one to respond. I picked him up at the trailhead the night before our dawn start; with him, he had a large duffel bag of gear and a cooler filled with elk meat, taco fixings, and Heady Topper.
Any apprehension either of us had been feeling about undertaking a 20-someodd-mile run with a stranger disappeared as we fell into easy conversation and laughter as we sped down from Crawford Notch. Obviously, the run went well and we still joke—ahem, argue—about whether or not I had asked him out on a trail running date. There was also the incident towards the end of the run when I, legs covered in mud, turned to Todd and asked him to please stop splashing me with mud. Apparently, for a full year, Todd thought I had been serious.
Now, here we are—three years later—embarking on another long and exciting journey together. Yes, there are days when, through the eyes of new business’ owners, we apprehensively wonder, “what have we done?”! And at the same time, we could not be more excited about this new adventure. We welcome you to our home and enthusiastically encourage you to explore the nearby trails in Mt. Mansfield State Park, sip an espresso on the deck and admire the views of the Green Mountains and Camels Hump, hang with the chickens, and tell us your story!
A dear friend of Val’s affectionately refers to her as “the Swiss Enchilada,” a name that reflects her Swiss and Bolivian roots and, equally, captures Val’s constant internal struggle with timeliness. Val’s Swiss heritage does shine through, however, when it comes to judging the quality of fresh butter, the whipped cream on your morning pastries, and the crisp edges on your sheets. And while she does think every piece of firewood should be measured, cut, and stacked to perfection, she does not adhere to these standards herself.
Val is passionate about mountains, ravens, and all things alpine. She loves cheese (maybe more than Todd). An avid trail runner, she enjoys her free time in the woods or in the kitchen with Todd. Together, they enjoy trail running adventures that coincide with culinary exploration. Val works in renewable energy policy by day and moonlights on an organic blueberry farm. She grew up in New York City and southern Vermont and has lived in Italy and Nepal and has spent considerable time as a child and adult in Switzerland. She went to school at Middlebury and Vermont Law School.
In a recent profile piece in Todd’s office’s newsletter, Todd was asked about his most favorite possession. Todd’s response—the Xs and Os rocks I gave him—perfectly summarizes the kind of person he is – Kind. He is also… Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty (not so much), Brave, Clean (two showers a day!), and Reverent (and irreverent too!). Todd, who grew up in Kansas, summered in Colorado (where his family has a cabin), and became an Eagle Scout, loves the mountains and the mountain life. He flyfishes, trail runs, mountain bikes, hunts, and takes beautiful photographs.
Todd is a Senior Partner at Meridian Institute where he specializes in helping groups with complex and controversial environmental, food, and agriculture issues. He went to school at the University of Michigan (BS in History and MS in Environmental Policy). In addition to Kansas and Vermont, Todd has lived in New Zealand, Hawaii, Seattle, Michigan and Colorado. He has two teenage children. Wyatt (17) is a student in Freiburg, Germany pursuing an International Baccalaureate degree. Sadie (14) will soon be a freshman in High School and is available for baby-sitting on request. She plays soccer, dances, and loves to cook with us (you may very well get to enjoy her crepes for breakfast).
PJ, short for Striped Pajamas, once the runt of the litter, is a mischievous cat who likes to spend his days sunning on the back deck. At night, he enjoys sleeping on his human companions’ heads or playing “Nascat” with his sister Gnocchi.
Gnocchi, who is plump like an Italian dumpling and black as the night (noche in Spanish), is a sweet and affectionate kitty who loves dogs. She prefers to spend her free time napping by the woodstove or begging for food. When she’s not napping, she enjoys trying to sit on the couch and breaking other Rules of Todd.