Saturday, September 11, 2010

Vermont: The Culture & Nature Issue

When you say 'Vermont', people often think of green mountains and crystal clear lakes, which is quite accurate, actually. So writing about Vermont's micro-culture and natural attributes in one post is no stretch. It isn't just the landscape that gives Vermont it's reputation. Vermonters care about their state, and this ethic is passed from one generation to the next. You will not see bottles and cans on the roadside because that doesn't make for a thriving tourist industry, and it helps that the state has had a recycling program in place for decades.

My mother was an environmentalist before the term was invented. She collects her coffee grounds and potato peels because they make for good garden fertilizer. Victory Gardens never fell out of vogue here. It isn't so much a political or environmental statement; when you can eat like a king out of your own back yard, why wouldn't you? 'Eat local' is a term born out of necessity when it takes three hours to travel seventy-five miles. While, yes, there are numerous grocery stores in my home town, there's a special satisfaction from growing fruits and vegetables out of rich soil, and knowing what went into growing them. And many of the finer restaurants tap local farmers for their choicest ingredients.

You won't find a lot of health clubs in the Northeast Kingdom. Instead, you will find kayaks, canoes, ski slopes, hiking and biking trails. Vermont has the third lowest obesity rate in the United States, so they might be onto something.

On the northern border, you will find the signs are in both English and French. To look in the phone book would reveal a heavy French-Canadian population since so many families moved here from Canada, as my parents' families did. You needn't listen for long before you hear the dialect of French called 'Joielle', an older dialect that was isolated when the French Voyageurs and fur traders moved to Canada.

In Vermont, the pace is slower, and you can feel your busy mind relaxing a bit after just a day here. If you fail to adapt, you risk the gentle chiding of being called a 'flatlander'.

If you've never visited Vermont, why not?

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