By Kari Lipschutz
I have spent the past twenty-one years of my life convinced that my dissatisfaction with my hometown in Florida was a product of standard youth rebellion. It was not until I met young Vermonters that I realized that, no, disliking your birthplace is not a right of passage. And it wasn’t until I visited their home state that I understood why.
That state up north, with that trivia-game-winning capitol Montpelier, is a place where the body and mind are allowed to run free for miles, uninhibited by roads or cell phones. Once your road trip takes you past Albany and across the New York-Vermont border, close your cell phones (because no matter how hard you try, they won’t work) and open your eyes to the bucolic setting unfolding around every turn in the road.
Once you arrive at your final destination (Bennington as it was for me), you will soon realize that the residents of Vermont, with their four wheel drive Subaru Outbacks, are an eclectic bunch. They may all stereotypically enjoy the finer points of flannel, but that’s where the similarities end. From craftsmen to artists to farmers, or a harmonious blend of them all, they are a knowledgeable and skilled group of individuals.
My limited experience with Vermonters has shown me a group of people who not only live in their surroundings, but understand how the environment around them works. I understand my observations are idealistic to say the least, but once you’ve had a genuine conversation under a maple tree or at the summit of one of the State’s namesakes (Mont Vert in French means green mountain), you’ll begin making sweeping generalizations as well.
Going to a farmer’s market is more like a meeting of old friends, and picking up groceries is more like a peak into the current seasons’ cornucopia. My good friend’s mother, a Vermonter herself, once chuckled at a group of NYU students huddled around her long wooden dining room table. In our black t-shirts and converse sneakers, inhaling everything put in front of us, she proudly declared, “everyone is more hungry in the country.”
I’m not sure if she meant her statement literally, but the truth of the matter was, we were hungry for much more than just the seasonal vegetable soup and hearty chunks of multi-grain bread in front of us, we were hungry for clean air. We were hungry for the slow ebb and flow of the Vermont lifestyle. If you go in the winter, you’ll be lucky enough to witness maple syrup season. As you drive down the winding dirt roads littered with metal buckets hanging on trees, you’ll experience a sensory overload; the air is saturated with that distinct sweet smell that only boiling syrup can provide.
If you find yourself craving the great outdoors in Autumn, be sure to visit one of the many beautiful apple orchards throughout the state. For a Floridian like myself, Vermont was the first time I had ever seen an apple outside of the grocery store and believe me, they just taste better when you shimmy up to the top of the tree and shake them out onto a tarp yourself. As in keeping with my sentiments toward home, I will always succumb to a freshly squeezed glass of orange juice. But there is a newly formed soft spot in my heart for sipping a hot cup of freshly pressed apple cider at a harvest festival in fall.