Reflections on My Dad, Scott Milne
By Elise Milne
When I was a kid I would walk down the hill to greet my Dad as he came home from work on warm summer nights. Our black lab Sammy and I cut through the woods and played in the ferns until she heard the sound of his company Ford coming up the long, dirt road. She would pant and jump in anticipation of his arrival. I would pretend to hitchhike as he came around the corner, then hop in the front seat.
Dad would ask me about my day and make jokes and funny faces and tickle me until I couldn’t stop giggling. Back then I just thought I had the greatest dad in the world.
As I grew up, I realized that he isn’t just good to me. I understand now that he’s a great Dad because of his empathy and compassion.
I have come to appreciate his unique way of interacting with kids and young people; of making them feel good about themselves and inspiring them. Over the years he has had countless young interns, employees, and friends that he has taken the time to mentor, though he never called it that.
Dad coached my brother Keith and I in baseball and basketball. Our friends always loved it. A few years ago we were at a neighborhood wedding and saw one of my former teammates. He said “when I bought my first suit for an interview and got the jitters I thought to myself; well Scott Milne’s the only guy I knew growing up who wore a suit. What would he do with this suit? So, thanks for helping me get that job!”
It’s not just kids that my Dad takes an interest in. There’s a lengthy list of community action and non-profit groups that call him every year for raffle prizes or other support.
One cold winter not so long ago my father provided a house for a homeless family of six through the Upper Valley Haven. When I went to the Haven to volunteer after Irene, the over-worked staff member behind the desk, who I had never met, hugged me when she realized I was Scott’s daughter. She said she wasn’t at all surprised to see me because my Dad has such a giving heart. But he would never tell you any of that.
One of my favorite things to do with my father is walk in the woods. No trail. No destination. We just walk. In less busy times we have spent whole days out there. It doesn’t matter if there is snow, rain, or sun. We slowly work our way into the fold of the towering trees. Just when I become convinced that he doesn’t know where we are, we pop out on a road right where he said we would.
I used to think adults just knew where to go. But we all know that’s not true. Dad grew up roaming the forests of Orange and Washington Counties. Understanding the way the ridges, gullies and streams of the Vermont hills weave together is just second nature to him. And when he is out in the woods there is an unmistakable calm that sets in. This place is as much a part of him as he is of it. They understand one another.
I will always treasure these excursions. When I was little, with nothing around to distract us, Dad would tell me stories about his adventures as a kid. He would tell me about family members and events that passed before I was born or old enough to remember.
The winter I was in fourth grade we studied Vermont history in school. When the moon was full and the woods aglow with snowlight, Dad and I would strap on our snowshoes and head out. We pretended to be nineteenth century farmers on the way home from Woodstock with supplies, Underground Railroad supporters, or Green Mountain Boys scoping out a British camp. The game never stopped us from impromptu bank slides or snowball fights.
As the years have passed, the woods conversations have become more complex. I will tell Dad what challenges or goals I have in work, school, or life in general. We’ll talk through the various ways forward. He’ll never tell me what to do or even give me advice. Instead, he’ll share his own experiences and stories about Grams and Pops or Mom and how they’ve handled things. He will point to subtleties and complexities that cannot be fit into a sound bite or a snippet. Dad will ask questions and explore options until the most sensible conclusion reveals itself.
It is on these walks that I come to best understand my father. As we talk through his challenges, goals, and life, I am able to focus entirely on him. I come to understand that he isn’t on the path less traveled. He need not choose a path because he makes his own.
Remembering these long walks in the woods makes me believe even more that Dad is the right man to lead our state forward. His steps are measured. He appreciates and honors the past as he moves cautiously and innovatively into the future as only someone with a deep awareness could. Most importantly, he loves this place. He nourishes it as it has nourished him. Scott Milne is a Vermonter in the very essence of the word.
These days our excursions are on the campaign trail. This race is not a career move for Dad, nor is it a hobby. I admire him more than I can say for keeping it all going as we grieve the great loss of Grams. His perseverance demonstrates that this is a make or break election for Vermont and he cares with all of his heart. This is a race run to save the home we know and love. This is a race run for the benefit of this great State and its people.