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…..