Words by Kelsey Stetson, Photo by Corey Hendrickson
As a Vermonter living outside of my home state, I am hopelessly nostalgic for my favorite things about Vermont, especially now as summer approaches. I can close my eyes and see the weird color that comes behind your eyelids when your surroundings are made of pure green and golden light. Here we are, Vermont. My love letter to you.
Cher Verd Mont, mon beau terrain,
I miss your sunset most of all.
Explorers know where the sun sets behind the Adirondack Mountains and the lake becomes a looking glass. The sight, the sunset, the ritual, the dazzling light.
Burlington is the best city in the world to watch the sun set. It is truly a geographical anomaly and an emotion to be experienced. UVM alumni know to take the fire escape up five floors to the top of Old Mill, watch the small beautiful world bumble along below you, thank the sun for another unbelievable day, and be grateful for the life you have.
I miss your ridges and peaks, your mountain tops and trails, your views and valleys.
Every single one of them. Summer is a good time for hiking in Vermont, because it is a great way to cool down! Icy snow-melt streams, generous shade from our beautiful arboreal friends, breezy high-mountain air. God, I love the woods. I miss Mount Abe like a member of my family. Bagging the peak in the dark and being rewarded with a sunrise is the greatest gift you can give yourself.
I miss the Burlington Farmers’ Market.
The convivial marketplace is energetic and heartening. It connects you with your community and with the earth. Meet the people who made your food! Hug your farmer! There are so many great markets in Vermont, put together by truly amazing people. Everyone is constantly in a fantastic mood, the wares are some of the most beautiful jewels on this great green earth, and there are always TONS of cute dogs.
“Windows down, sunny day, great music, alone or with friends. See the sights. Go slow. Sing out loud.”
I miss lawn sale-ing!
This is what Vermonters call putting unwanted things from our house out on the lawn. Vermonters don’t really “decorate,” we rummage, swap, and flea-bargain. (At least this Vermonter does and she learned it from her mama.)
I remember being little and we were having a lawn sale—at what is now Tourterelle in New Haven on Route 7. My parents ran the place when it was still the 1796 House. My dad, Papa Stets (who had never had a lawn sale before), got so excited by people pulling up and handing him cash for “all the crap your mother buys” as he lovingly puts it, he started taking things out of the house that were not for sale. He almost sold our couch for $25 but luckily Mama Sylvs saw him trying to help the buyer push it into the back of a truck and cancelled the sale.
I miss cruising the backroads.
Burn cruise, taking a tour, Sunday driving, whatever you call it, it is a tradition that I hope will never fall by the wayside. In high school, we used to call it meetings of the “Puzzle Club,” and my four close friends and I added this activity to our senior yearbook club list. “Puzzle Club 1– 4.”
Speaking of, dirt roads are the best. Not for your car, not for mud season, and not for town maintenance budgets, but they are the best. Windows down, sunny day, great music, alone or with friends. See the sights. Go slow. Sing out loud. Wave tailgaters with hurries and worries around you with a friendly paw out the window.
And … speaking of dirt roads, I miss running the interconnecting back roads in Charlotte more than any other physical activity. Checking in every day with duck ponds, cow pastures, and many other meaningful wild encounters eventually turned me into a half marathoner, when in high school you couldn’t have gotten me to run even if there was an ice cream sundae at the finish line. (I’d just go get my own.)
I miss swimming, swimming, swimming holes.
I can’t tell you where the best swimming holes are (it’s against policy), but anywhere you feel moisture in the air, pull over and look for the beaten path.
“Thank you, Champlain Valley, for my strong bones, refined taste, and the fact that, even when younger, I have never met a vegetable I didn’t like.”
I miss the food.
Vermonters eat well. I won’t bang on about it, but we do and we should be truly grateful for it. Thank you, Champlain Valley, for my strong bones, refined taste, and the fact that, even when younger, I have never met a vegetable I didn’t like.
I miss general stores.
The corner store was always the post office, the grocery store, the gas station, the hardware store, the video-rental place, the liquor store, and sometimes also your grandparents’ house, all rolled into one. I will run one someday with my fellow elderly girlfriends and boyfriends. Shotguns, lace-up boots, dire wolves and all.
I miss the music in BTV.
Burlington, we have had some wild nights. Thank you for being an elegant hostess during the cocktail hour, a smoldering temptress after dinner, and Mercutio’s dream well into the early morning. My comrades-for-life know who they are and I thank them implicitly for my youth.
Particularly, Reggae Night. Sunday at Nectar’s is my favorite night to dance—pretty much anywhere in the world. I can’t explain it, it’s just the best vibe, and the best people turn out for it. My college roommate Kenny and I used to crank up the tunes while we got ready (after watching True Blood) and then the night was ours. Bless up, VT. Extra shout out to the Nectar’s crew for being the kindest, most fun, and most beautiful people on earth.
I miss the Tunbridge World’s Fair!
Come one, come all to the greatest fair in all the land! See amazing feats of strength (the ox pull), learn how things are really done (watch a log become a hand-hewn beam), see the prized pumpkins and beans and pies and quilts, watch the 4-H club demonstrate their careful and caring animal handling and husbandry skills, but most of all, have a maple sugar doughnut with black coffee first thing in the morning when the mists of Avalon rise all around you.
“I miss creemees.”
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