Tuesday, August 29, 2006


We spent last week in Vermont. Driving up I-95 just as thousands of motorcyclists were travelling from DC for the 9-11 ride, we were constantly aware of how urban a world we live in. We crossed over the George Washington bridge in New York City, travelled just a ways into Connecticut, and cut off onto Highway 7. Soon we were in an area filled with farms, covered bridges, old houses, and towns incorporated right after the Revolution. We drove through Connecticut and Massachussets, through the Berkshires on the evening of a Tanglewood concert, until we reached Vermont. We stopped in Bennington for the evening.

In the morning before we began our drive to Lake Champlain, we had breakfast in a cute little cafe in town. We parked the car, dashed through the rain, and stood admiring the paintings on the wall while we waited for our food. Surrounding our table were oil portraits of women, young and old, knitting. I felt right at home.

Staying on 7, we headed through rolling countryside, quaint towns, and farming districts until we reached Grand Isle. David was attending a committee leadership retreat for the United States Breastfeeding Committee. Son and I came with him to enjoy the exquisite retreat center and its lakefront grounds. The estate, a lovely old inn now used for weddings and civil union celebrations as well as small organizational meetings, was a perfect place to relax. We studied the Renaissance while sitting on the wrap-around porch, practiced math, did some knitting, played croquet and bocce, learned to skip stones on the lake, and read and read and read. And we ate incredible food. The chef at the Lake House put together lovely meals with everything from organic produce from a neighboring farm to ice cream made on the island.

David, Son, and I were not the only people knitting at the retreat. One woman was knitting a Christmas stocking for her new grandbaby. Another was knitting a baby blanket. David worked on both his socks and his sweater for Son. During the meeting when the members found errors in their work, they brought them out to me to try to fix. I was officially christened their Knitting Doula. What a perfect title! I think we have to pass it on to the Yarn Harlot.

After the meeting ended and we left the island, we took a few days to explore Vermont. First we stopped at Ben and Jerry's to tour their facilities. (We tried not to roll our eyes too much when they talked about being bought out by Unilever.) After seeing the room where they package two flavors a day, we tried the one they were making that morning: Apple Pie. Delicious.

In addition to the other big Vermont companies like Cabot, Basketville, King Arthur Flour, and the Vermont Country Store (I am obsessed with their merino long underwear), the state is full of small family businesses that produce cheese, maple syrup, cider, wine, honey, apple products, etc. More about that soon.

Vermont is also a state of many fine colleges. We drove by Bennington, Middlebury, the University of Vermont, and the almost-in-Vermont Dartmouth, among others.

When we reached Brattleboro, we went to a show of breastfeeding art in a downtown cafe. There are some incredible photographs displayed there--some clearly intended to be art and some intended to document family life. What a pleasure. If you are near Brattleboro, check it out!


Leslie Shelor said...

Ben and Jerry's, the best thing about Vermont! Just kidding, Vermont is a lovely state and it sounds like you had a wonderful and special time!

hillary said...

I used to vacation on the NY side of Lake Champlain as a child and one of my favorite things was driving over to VT to tour crafty places. I just loved VT.

Kate A. said...

What an idyllic trip! It sounds just lovely, and as we're going up that way in a few weeks to visit family in NH, I'm making note of some of the cool places you went to.

One of the not-so-cool places you listed was my neigborhood! You must have driven right by us - we're right near the GW bridge. Be sure to wave next time you come our way (or visit!)

Caroline said...

You're trying to torture those of us who live where summer has parched every ounce of green from the landscape aren't you? California is so overrated..except for maybe Yosemite and the Redwoods. I'm ready to move to Vermont!

paula said...

Looks like a great trip- I love New England this time of year! We also just got back from MA- went up 95 + GW Bridge- even without the motorcycles/concerts, it was awful! We drove through PA (through Scranton) on the way back- a couple hours longer in the car, but cost just $1.75 (for the Mass Pike) and had much less traffic!


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