Winter Sojourning in Vermont

Quote of the Day:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” –Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad

There was a time in TB’s life when, thanks no less to ignorance inflicted than ignorance inborn, you could not have convinced me via the most highly skilled nor logically pristine argument that I could–forget would–love places like Oregon or Montana, especially Vermont. But here I am, forty, and I while away my days pining for these places ineffectually, dreaming of a life without offices and sedans.

Vermont wasn’t our first choice for this year’s winter trip, nor even our second. But circumstances were such that it fell into place as the perfect choice nonetheless. I had confidence it would work out that way thanks to a single pleasurable afternoon spent there on an impromptu side trip from the Adirondacks several years back. Still, the place exceeded my high adult expectations, and blew away any remaining vestiges of the ridiculous assumptions of this Northeastern Kingdom from my younger days.

Vermont is quiet. Not because it’s small or because it’s mostly rural. It isn’t the gentle snows that drift in and out in workmanlike fashion or the protective mountains that discretely screen off the mega-metropolises to the south. In fact, the state isn’t quiet due to anything audible at all. It took me a few days to finally realize what makes the place so peaceful and subdued. Vermont is quiet, serene, because of what you see–family farms with freshly painted red barns and white wooden fences, a hibernating tire swing at the wooded edge of a snow-white meadow, and the steady, clear brook curving alongside, street signs signifying a bear or moose crossing or a ski path. Even more, it is quiet for what you do not see–billboards, hurried drivers, nor golden arches or their innumerable cousins.

There was a village, just like the ones we used to put atop our TV set at Christmas when I was a child, with a general store and a white-painted church and a towering steeple overlooking all. There were two salty guys building a house in the country near our rental. They framed the place up in three days, working in temperatures around zero once, in snow the next, and on a balmy sunny day of thirty degrees on the last. Seven year old locals with black eyes and scratched helmets maneuvered deftly on the black diamond runs beneath the ski lifts filled with New Yorkers and Bostonians and  a few southerners seeking adventure on the crowded and safe blues to the side. There was a sign made from half a wooden canoe standing upright on one road before a cleared driveway framed by a six-foot pile of muddy snow and two big shovels leaning against the nearest wall. It read, “Justice of Peace, Notary Public, Free Advice.” There were two foxes high-steppin’ across a snowy field, in search of breakfast I suppose, as usual.

So much to see, yet it is all so clutter-free and tranquil that it pacifies the brain, eases the soul, and, come to think of it, I don’t recall seeing a scrap of clutter along the roads in Vermont. Yes, peaceful, pastoral, beautiful, and tough, that’s Vermont.

Northeast Yankee liberal, ivory towered, effeminate, elitist, anti-capitalist pansies? That’s what a lot of people around these parts think of Vermont and Vermonters. I can’t blame ’em too much I guess. When I was young I was ignorant and misinformed myself…… Then I started travellin’……..I’d sure love to spend a month in Montana about now…..just to see what it’s like…..

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About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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11 Responses to Winter Sojourning in Vermont

  1. Jessie Lou says:

    Beautiful photos! My nephew played basketball at Dawson Community College in Montana – he liked it very much from what I recall but it had to be quite the culture shock going from OLV in Pascagoula, Ms to Montana. I’m betting you and your group would love it.

    • I’ve only been there in the Summer, twice now, and along with Hawaii it is probably my favorite place. But the more places I go, the more places are right up there with ’em…Oregon, Washington, Maine, Vermont, No-Cal, Colorado….I wish I could stay on the move all the time.

  2. irvineredd says:

    I’ve been lucky enough to take a sojourn to Vermont once. I went to Woodstock, VT, and stayed at a neat bed and breakfast, that was incredibly cool due to the fact that it was not just a lame Victorian, but a quirky place run by two English folks who had been in the publishing business for a while. So the house was yellow, the food was organic, and they had a massive record collection for anyone to enjoy. I loved Vermont. Wonderful place.

    The people there were so nice, as well. Looks like ya’ll had fun.

    • I think they are nice too, but the culture takes some getting used to. They don’t really use the pleasantries we do down south, more brusque and to the point, especially in business/retail settings. I simply take it as a “mindin’ my own business” attitude more than rudeness though. But if you start talking to someone, you find they are engaging, eager to help and thoughtful, same as most places.

      I know Woodstock is suppose to be great….next time…..I brought home a great map of the state with lots of traveler info. Probably go in the summer one of these days.

  3. irvineredd says:

    If you go to Woodstock, here’s where I stayed:

  4. Kathy Parker says:

    So glad you enjoyed ‘Plan B’- it sounds wonderful! Clutter-free and tranquil is just what I need right now.

  5. The Daily Wit says:

    Are small towns up there truly charming or are they the Tchula that you’ve never been to?

    • They would be even more shocked that a place like Tchula could exist than we are that a place like Stowe or Bar Harbour or Camden could exist. Apple trees, American Flags, freshly painted porches, precise lawns and even a few white picket fences.

      This is a small thing, but I’d never seen it before and it stuck with me. The town sledding hill in Stowe is behind the elementary school and ballfield. You walk through the school playground to get there. It is very modern and well maintained, cool slides, a new age seesaw, tire swings, a climbing fort, etc…and a sign out front says something to the effect of “The town of Stowe welcomes our citizens and guests to the George Washington Elementary School Playground.” Usually I feel like a trespasser on out of town or school playgrounds, though we stop at them for the Scamp a lot. I thought it was cool to put a sign up letting people know the place is there for them to use.

    • New England is the last part of the country I’ve not yet been to. I was hoping, because of that, that it was not as idyllic as I envision it to be.

  6. Harmony says:

    Sounds like you had an amazing trip. I think I would like to go to Vermont. I have plans to (someday) visit New Hampshire..maybe I’ll lump the two of them together. Next month I’m headed to Kansas and flying in an airplane alone with tons of strangers…I’m not scared though. I did have a weird sigh of relief in finding that I did NOT win the Mega Millions Lotto however. I’m afraid that I would never board a plane again if I won the lotto using the Lost numbers.

  7. Harmony says:

    Some of my comment disappeared (Ryder likes to help comment every now and then)…blah diddy blah..small amounts can still have a big jinx effect..or something along those lines.

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