August 1, 2010
Things I Have Very Recently Learned in the State of Vermont:
Vermonters have attitude issues. The discussion at dinner last night concerned the residents of a nearby town, where the old, as in ancestral old, residents have an idealogical war going with the new (as in not 5th generation) residents over the use of tax dollars and other civic issues. Evidently most of the people in Vermont are not FROM Vermont, and the ones FROM Vermont have been here since the 1700’s and don’t like any of the others.
There are even towns in Vermont where only people born in the towns may be buried in the local cemeteries. Dead riff-raff is still riff-raff, I suppose.
If you want to appear Vermontish on the road, drive a dirty Subaru with racks carrying bicycles and/or a kayak or two. If this doesn’t appeal to you, forget the Subaru and get a motorbike. I think I saw more people on motorbikes in one day here than I have in the previous 6 months. Of normal life. In the Midwest. Where things are normal (and thus the town of Normal, Illinois).
I don’t actually know much about New England, as it turns out. My grasp of the geography is not terrific, and GPS is no help, because it’s much too nose-to-the-road to give you the big picture. I stopped to buy an atlas, somewhere in the Adirondacks, an hour or two after I realized I was actually IN the Adirondacks. This scenic, but slow, route was a choice made by my Garmin GPS device, which I followed without giving it any thought until it was, as they say, too late. I had been joyfully admiring the scenery and congratulating myself on having had the balls, so to speak, to set out on this trip when it dawned on me that I didn’t know if this road I was on was leading me to Vermont where I wanted to go or to Vermont via Canada. Self-congratulations came to a screeching halt. WhatTheFuckCouldIHaveBeenThinking? kicked in. I was getting tired. But a VFW guy sitting out selling raffle tickets in front of a busy grocery was kind enough to tell me where I was, and to call his friend over, a guy who had actually BEEN to Vermont, to give me advice on a route to where I was going. They seemed a little concerned that I was driving from Chicago to Vermont and had no freaking idea where I was. Ha! Worriers !
The gang at the dinner table of my B&B turned out to be mostly young hiker/organic farmer/botanist types, an American yoga/meditation teacher who lives in Delhi with her Indian husband and an old guy named Jo,hn who wore his big straw hat all through the meal and took lots of vitamins. He told a story about being in Peru for the millennium changeover and had a story about a drum circle and how he’d had a vision of this circle years before while on an acid trip, but it had been a very bad acid trip so he had decided to stay away from things spiritual to avoid returning to the bad place, but while drumming he experienced a crossing over a chasm that had opened up in the earth and that he had crossed to the other side. The kids ooed and ahed. I asked if when he got to the other side the grass was greener and Sam said, “No it wasn’t that kind of thing at all.” It seems that my sarcasm and brilliant wit are not properly appreciated in Vermont. I stared down at the sad little vegan scone on my plate and said no more.
Here is a news flash, and this is important information: there are places in this country where your cell phone may pick up NO signal! Seriously! Like you can’t make a phone call!! I KNOW!! It’s really troubling! What do we have a freaking federal government for, anyway? And while they’re at it, let’s get the universal high-speed internet thing set up. Please.
Oh, and speaking of. There is a whole Vermont successionist movement, with political candidates and everything. Evidently Ben and Jerry can support the whole deal, so what do they need the other 49 for? Or maybe it’s just a little state complex, like a Napoleon thing. Did you know that President Sarkosey of France is actually shorter than Napoleon was? There’s a connection there- Vermont was settled by the French or something. Anyway.