Vermont is exactly the way I imagined it would be. Well, summer time in Vermont. I also imagine that it’s cold and grey and wintery and snowy, and it is none of those things. But it is green and peaceful and beautiful, with long stretches of empty roads and farms around every corner.
My first night I stayed at a Harvest Hosts site, a farm in New Haven, Vermont, right outside of Middlebury. I picked up a sale book that day, Second Chance Dog: A Love Story, and read it sitting under a tree, with corn fields before me and fields spreading out on all sides. I ate heirloom tomatoes and exotic cucumber with cheddar cheese, walked the dogs along a gritty white gravel road, and when I went to sleep — early! — I could see hundreds of stars from the window next to my bed.
In the morning, I went into Middlebury and wandered around with the dogs, feeling nostalgic for my own New England college town, and then drove off onto the craziest road. Rte 17. There was a sign that said something like not advised for trucks in bad weather, but it wasn’t bad weather. But the road was terrifying and entertaining in equal parts. Curvy, steep, and seriously bumpy. Things were crashing around in the back of the camper — I was pretty sure it wasn’t a question of what was broken, but how much was broken, but hey, that’s what happens when you bring your vintage china camping with you! — but the views and scenery were incredible.
My cousin C. called when I was on the road, so when I saw a place to park, I pulled over to call her back. I decided to eat lunch there and my random, by-the-side-of-the-road parking lot turned out to be an access point to a river. Or maybe it was a creek? I took the dogs down a flight of wooden stairs to a rocky beach and we sat on the beach and ate melon and prosciutto and then did some wading. Even B tried out the water, although that might have been because he knew I still had prosciutto. It was hot, probably in the low 80s, with the sun beating down, and the water — at wading level anyway — was pleasantly cool.
I was meeting C. at the Bread and Puppets Circus, which she promised me was the quintessential Vermont experience. More nostalgia for me — not for Vermont, of course, since I’ve never been here before — but for Santa Cruz. The Vermont crowd could have easily been transported to R’s alternative elementary school events in Santa Cruz and no one would have noticed a difference, except maybe for the lack of sand. The dogs were beautifully behaved, the weather hot and sunny, the performances fun and the people-watching excellent.
I never did find C., but she came and joined me at my campground. In a surprise torrential downpour — the classic late afternoon thunderstorm — we got take-out salad with delicious maple balsamic vinaigrette and maple barbecued wings from a jam-packed pizza place, Parker Pies, and brought them back to the camper to eat. We even set up the table and used it for the first time. Turns out no china had been broken over the perilous route 17 — the crashing had been all the contents of the medicine cabinet hitting the bathroom floor. And none of that broke, either.
I’m not sure what I’m doing next. I’ve got four days to play in Vermont/work on my book and then I’m spending the weekend with C. We’ll be going kayaking and visiting relatives, but I have so many possible options for the intervening days. Unfortunately, I forgot to close the windows before we went out to pick up dinner yesterday and everything in Serenity feels damp and cold this morning. Plus the freezer has frozen over again, which causes the door to fall off, so I’ll need to devote some time to fixing that today. And I woke up congested and sneezing and achy, most likely from cheese and tomatoes on Saturday. Alas. But it was still an incredibly nice weekend.