|Our annual Strolling of the Heifers (to distinguish it from that event in Spain) recognizes "conscious" food--local farming families, organic produce, and such lovelies as the best fruit pies around.|
This town is called "The One and Only" because there is no place else--in the world--that is named Brattleboro ... named for William Brattle, Jr., who never actually got here but who was one of the Boston-based owners of this area's land-grant charter and who, incidentally, was a loyalist who fled to Nova Scotia where he died in 1776. Before all that, this was Abenaki territory, but then the town's antecedent, Fort Dummer, became Vermont's first permanent English settlement. (Its site is now underwater--flooded by the construction of a dam on the Connecticut River.)
The town lies in the southeastern corner of Vermont with Interstate 91 shooting right through it on one side, the Connecticut River (and New Hampshire) bordering it on the other, and the attractive West River angling through from its Vermont source northwest of here. The population is 12,000 which makes it the 7th largest town in the state, the first being Burlington, off near the Quebec border.
|Our beautiful West River|
Back when I first moved here, now 22 years ago, I looked around and took for granted several amenities. For one thing, I found three favorite bookstores here--good for browsing at any time. A fourth wasn't bad but always smelled musty and carried a lot of environmentally-correct books which I applauded but didn't buy. Then, as the years went by, bookstore #1 suffered severe water damage from a fire and closed. (The store there now sells odd lamps and earrings.) Bookstore #2 (that later added a pleasant coffee bar) went the way when the owner couldn't put up the funds for the coffee bar addition. (That space is now occupied by a microbrewery--nice for beer drinkers but I'm not a beer drinker.) Bookstore #3 (actually in the next village over) went the way when it turned out Amazon was taking a lot of its trade. Alas. Bookstore #4, the musty one, is now the only one in town selling new books. They're good for ordering books but a bit limited in space for general browsing.
There were also 3 video stores in town. #1 had a fabulous collection of art films but put the place up for sale one day. #2 was independently owned but put the place up for sale one day. #3, part of a national line, simply closed its doors. Now, if you want to see a video/DVD, you have to go to the library but their supply seems geared toward old TV series. Back then, too, there were two or three movie channels on TV. Those have now switched and are showing repeats of Gladiator or The Walking Dead. Yes, I belong to Netflix and get one a week. I'm fussy about what I order, so they have to be good. But there are other times when I'd like to watch a movie on the spur of the moment, not planned weeks ahead of time and put in my queue.
Then the nice walking trail down by the West River has been taken over by construction crews for the past 4 or 5 years while they're replacing a high spanned interstate bridge over that same river.
The parking meters have gone from taking pennies to gulping quarters.
The store that sold Indian bedspreads, tablecloths, incense, and nice little chutney dishes closed not long after Hurricane Irene flooded it out. A kitchen goods place took over but then closed.
On the plus side, the little local art museum (where the train station used to be) is doing well and coming up with small but well-received exhibits.
Then there's the splendid family-run hardware store in the middle of town with old creaky-wooden floors and personal service where someone is always ready to lead you off into the maze of aisles to show you where to find that particular light bulb or battery you need. The nice thing (besides the service) is that the store never changes. No renovations, no re-organizing, no moving door mats or brooms or nails or tea kettles to some new spot. They just leave things as and where they are. Since it works, why change! (That philosophy goes over well here.)
After getting a bequest, the local library has re-opened Thursday mornings and spiffed itself up.
Our old food coop was torn down and replaced by a new one that is bigger, even more organic than before, and good about labeling non-GMO, so that's a plus.
|Tea selection at our local food coop|
A good number of restaurants have come and gone. The local hemp store closed when the owner died. A popular bakery nearly closed until people made a Big Fuss, so it stayed open. Little giftie-type shops come and go. A new attractive art gallery has opened up.
A circus arts school has found new digs in town and seems to be thriving. Ditto the local music school. Ditto the local (small) arts school.
My druthers? Another great bookstore, please. A Greek restaurant. A walking path beside the Connecticut River (except Amtrak has taken over that space). An Indian restaurant to replace the one that closed. A quality women's clothing store to replace the one that closed. No more chotchkies.
Just thought I'd pass that along.
|A Main Street store sidewalk display|
|"The Meadows" where the West River becomes a water meadow just before flowing into the Connecticut|