Outside of a few family trips, my travel for the year wrapped up in early November with a road trip to Vermont. Todd and I have contemplated moving there someday, so we figured that we should visit in seasons other than perfect summer months. Actually, the band Carbon Leaf scheduled a show up in Burlington, which prompted that particular weekend for a trip. Then we found out that Yonder Mountain String Band was playing the night before, so it seemed like a good idea to see that show as well (spoiler - it was not a good idea. I fell asleep. Nothing to do with the quality of music and more to do with my quality of sleep). We took our time winding up Rt 7 on Friday morning with stops for art, lunch and photos. I drove because it's easier for me to slam on the breaks and squeal over to the side of the road than to yell at Todd to do it, something that remained a theme the entire weekend. Vermont makes my heart stop. It's not just the rural farms and mountains, fall color (which I've actually never seen), covered bridges or free spirit. It's a bit of all of it. It's the mixture of traditional and progressive, the respect for doing it yourself and supporting the people around you. It's like John Denver says "Coming home to a place you've never been before."
We started in Bennington at the museum, which has an exhibit on Grandma Moses. She grew up in New York and Vermont in the later half of the 19th century and early 20th century and was "discovered" as an artist at the ripe old age of 78. I fell in love with her primitive style of painting when I was a child and found a book of her art on my mom's bookshelf. I guess she gave me hope - that you are never too old and it is never too late to do what you love. Love it first, and then maybe something amazing will happen. But do it for the love, not for the attention. I left there feeling hopeful and alive.
**EDIT: If you would like to learn more about Grandma Moses, do check out this site from Artsy, whose mission is to make the world's art accesible to anyone.
Driving north with the Green Mountains to the east and the Adirondacks to the west, I felt as if we were chasing the sun. Long shadows appeared across the landscape and the colors of the world began to come alive, as if a film were lifted and one could finally see clearly. The next morning dawned cold and snow covered, and Todd and I made a game of exploring. Left, Right, Straight - we took turns deciding which way to go until we hit the town of Bristol where we had tea and breakfast and stopped in one of the town art galleries to get warm. It was, after all, a brisk 22 degrees. In a town made up of pretty much one block of business, there were about 4 galleries, which tells me what is important to the town. My kind of place. We headed south out of town towards Lincoln and I scurried down the banks of the New Haven River to photograph the icy water and deep green pines. When my hands were sufficiently numb, we proceeded to get lost in the foothills of Mt Abraham until we drove back to Burlington to meet Todd's cousin, Erin, a sophomore at the University of Vermont.
A warm lunch of local pizza at VT Flatbread later, Todd and I wandered the waterfront where I captured the sunset and crawled among the cairns carefully placed at the edge of Lake Champlain. I helped a group of women with some photographs of them and their "friend", a photo pasted on a blow up doll, of their compatriot who was unable to attend their trip. They felt like kindred spirits. As the sun finally disappeared behind New York, we headed to Church Street, to wander the pedestrian mall and pop in and out of stores. Despite one bad memory of the street (I had my purse stolen on a previous visit, including my only set of car keys) I love walking free of cars and being in the center of Burlington. This night, I stayed awake for the whole show and was rewarded with 4th row for my 7th or 8th time seeing Carbon Leaf in my 4th state. Groupie!!
Sunday morning we said goodbye to our hosts at the farm and their gaggle of Weimaraners, heritage chickens, turkeys and sheep and made one final stop before the long drive home. I had an AMAZING vegan breakfast in Vergennes at the 3 Squares Cafe and we did a lap of the town, quickly falling in love with this little spot in the Champlain Valley. The drive home seemed to take forever - 8 hours does not go fast, especially the first half in New York. But I can't wait to head north again.