Vermont plays to earlier days. To old cars on old byways, many not even paved. To aproned women in general stores selling you pots of home-made jam or pickles or dilly beans. To farmers markets where friends bump into each other and pick up cakes of a vendor's soap in patchouli, pine, lemongrass scents or loaves of fresh multi-grain bread or cups of Indian chai. To the pleasure of driving without the disruption of seeing billboards. To contra-dances in the local grange hall where young matrons, grandmothers, and grizzled farmers alike dance a set to fiddle music as they do a balance, stomp, and kick, or a promenade down the length of the wooden floor.
So it's homey (in fact, down-homey), accessible, and, as I say, caters to an earlier era. People here can be very straight forward, helpful, independent, many living off in the woods with their solar panels, foxes, skunks, and deer as their bird feeders attract squirrels in summer and bears in winter. If you're around awhile, even if you're a flatlander (aka someone not born here), they can eventually realize that, yes, you have been around awhile. After many years of my saying, "Hi, Jerry," the man who sells flowers at the farmers market now calls me by name when he says, "Hi," back. (He also has excellent maple syrup, honey, garlic scapes in spring, and berries later on.) And Susan, who sells gorgeous hand-thrown pots, now knows my name, too, and holds back some of her special buttercrunch lettuce for me at only $1.50 a head. (It's the lettuce to beat all lettuce.)
But I have discovered a disadvantage to opting for beauty over modernity. I was out on a state highway just this past week when I realized I had a flat tire. I pulled over some distance past a covered bridge, no houses around, but next to a lovely little river that made its way down to the Connecticut. I was on my way to the county seat--a small low-key town, very photogenic--to pick up three clematis vines on sale to plant before the wintry winds take over.
Of course, I didn't like having a flat but I pulled out my cell phone to call roadside assistance ... only ... to find ... there was no reception. Drat! Yes, I remembered now that area was "dead." What to do!! Nothing for it but to stand out on the road and wave my arms, hailing someone to stop and, I hoped, take me to the next town where I imagined (but wasn't sure, mind you) that I could make a cell call. I was surprised, with my "little old lady" status (as per my August 8th posting), at just how long it took for someone to stop. I was eventually rescued. Then, having driven on it as much as I had, I found I'd pretty well demolished the tire and had to buy a new one.
Two days later, I went off to the cell phone office to learn that that entire lengthy mountainous corridor had no service. A tower almost got put in nearby but that town's select-board (the governing body) nixed it, opting for beauty. Of course, I felt conflicted, understanding the sense of that but also realizing that having a cell phone for emergency calls did not guarantee that a call could actually go through in many places that I frequented. Hmmm ....