A Very Unparked Domain
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Vermont stole our hearts

We just wrapped up 8 days in Vermont: a week in Brattleboro plus a crazy day shuttling between Montpelier and Burlington. Vermont absolutely stole our hearts.

Here’s how Vermont compares to other places we’ve lived and traveled:

  • In Virginia, the signboards in front of the churches say: “God Bless Our Troops.” In Vermont, the church signs say: “Peace on Earth.”
  • In Vancouver, there’s a Starbucks coffee shop on every corner. In Vermont, there’s at least one bookstore on every block.
  • In Texas, people tended to be extremely large, or emaciated and (in the case of women) surgically “enhanced.” (Dallas leads the country for plastic surgery and breast implants after Los Angeles.) In Vermont, people weren’t huge, and they weren’t scrawny. They looked like normal, healthy, active people.

The 2004 Howard Dean presidential campaign makes more sense after being in Vermont. People seemed aware and involved. Every community we spent any time in has a food co-op. It is illegal to idle your car because of the environmental damage. The bumper stickers made me smile instead of frown. There seems to be huge community support for local Vermont food producers. It is incredibly easy to find healthy food and vegetarian meals. Billboards are outlawed.

Vermont has a kind of Gortex / tie-dyed / locavore / mountain-climbing / veg-positive / tread-lightly-on-the-earth feeling that reminded us of Vancouver in a very, very good way.

Vermont is the first place we’ve visited on the trip that felt like home. It is the first place I could imagine living. It is definitely the first place where I feel like, if we stayed, we might “fit in.”

At dinner on Thursday night, I was chatting with our server, who turned out to be a transplant to Vermont from Massachusetts, about the secret of Vermont: Vermonters eat like kings. The quality of life is spectacular. The state is beautiful. How do they keep everyone else out?

“The winters,” he replied. And laughed.

He continued that the cost of living is high but wages are generally low. The people are wonderful partly because it is a hard place to live: the people who stay are really committed to being there.

(Any Vermonters reading this is welcome to weigh in and let us know how accurate you find his assessment to be!)

We aren’t ready to stop traveling yet. We’ve had our fill of high living costs. And, I’ve fulfilled more than my lifetime quota of harsh winters.

But we still fell in love with Vermont: the wonderful people we met, the food, the culture, the attitudes.

We won’t be making a permanent move to Vermont soon, but I really hope we can spend more time there in the future.

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7 comments

1 Kim@Galavanting { 09.08.08 at 11:28 am }

Vermont is a gorgeous place. My sister lives near Burlington and I’m a little jealous about that… :)

2 Shaula { 09.08.08 at 3:11 pm }

I’d be jealous, too! We drove through Burlington on the way from Mountpelier to Montreal. Unfortunately, it was the Friday of Labour Day weekend, and the city was swarming with families dropping off kids at university. We’d love to see it again when it is a little less bursting-at-the-seams.

On the other hand: at least you have an open excuse to visit and a place to stay!

3 Danielle { 09.16.08 at 5:13 pm }

My husband and I are hanging our hats in Brattleboro for a while, but we aren’t Vermonters (despite his being born here). However, it’s a truly wonderful place to spent time– save November through April!– and I’ll miss the culture here when we move on. I hope that you stopped by Experienced Goods thrift store, the C0-op, and Dottie’s Health Foods; I visit those establishments almost daily! Sorry I missed you while you were in town, but I’m looking forward to keeping up with your blog.

4 Shaula { 09.16.08 at 5:37 pm }

Hi, Danielle. I really do envy you your extended stay in Brattleboro.

We didn’t actually get to Experienced Goods or Dottie’s, but we fell in love with the Co-op.

I look forward to keeping up with your site, too. You have a tremendendous blog!

5 Neil { 09.16.08 at 6:19 pm }

Not to mention the Jamaican Restaurant (Vegetarian Paradise)across the street from the Co-Op. Excellent.

6 Greycella { 12.02.08 at 10:53 pm }

I’m a Brattleboro native, and I’ve spent all but four of my years here. We kind of joke that it’s a black hole….you leave for awhile but somehow always find yourself back here because it’s just got that something. I’m glad you enjoyed your visit to our town. What your waiter said about a high cost of living with low wages is a very real issue, I pay as much for rent here as I did when I was living in Santa Cruz, California! That said, becoming a home-owner is a much more attainable goal here than other desirable places to live- so the rent is something I’m willing to endure for the time being.
A lot of people try to move to Brattleboro, and not many make it- my mother was one of the few thirty years ago and I think it had a lot to do with the fact that she met my father who’s a Brattleboro native! I love our funky little town, and the fact that I can keep most of my hard-earned money in the local economy…admittedly a lot of my discretionary income is spent at those bookstores a-plenty you mentioned.
Did you do any hiking around here?

7 Neil { 12.05.08 at 2:05 pm }

Greycella,
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the opportunity to get out hiking, although it looks like a pretty awesome countryside for it (and clearly, a lot of people were heading in or out).
Hopefully, though, this will be neither our last visit to Brattleboro, nor our only chance to hike it =]

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