There is something about a month of vacation that is altogether different from its half-brother of two weeks. Two weeks is enough to tourist up a place, see all the sights, generate duffels of laundry, bike the bike routes and hopefully get at least a smattering of good weather. Two weeks is long enough to wring out a really good vacation while still knowing the difference between home and away.
We’ve been away from home for over a month now and just past the three week mark in this cabin and we are beginning to settle in. The over hot water heater has become familiar and we’ve begun to recognize the thriving spider populations by less profane descriptors. We know to bang out the chair cushions before sitting on them. We’ve found the laundromat and the recycling center. We have established a favorite meat man at the farmers market and have discussed which loaf of bread we should try this week. We sweep the floor. Kelly has pinesoled the toilet. These are not things you do “on vacation”, these are the motions of living somewhere.
This picture doesn’t show him, but around the corner, wisely sitting in the shade, is the man who coordinates the entire local garbage pick up and recycling center. He sat guarding the newspaper pile, taking hits off his oxygen tank. He also, according to our landlady mows every public space in greater Bridport and is, to this day, a two pack a day smoker. All these things – mower, newspaper, cigs and oxygen – wrapped around one personality seems…well…fatal. But he was a very pleasant man.
We’ve been here long enough to watch the corn rise from overgrown grass to proud tasseled crops. We’ve even been here long enough to enjoy relief that, finally, the weather gave us three days of corn growing heat to give those soggy fields a leg up. Who goes on vacation to be concerned about the corn?
Corn fields in mid- July, Bridport, VT
Corn fields, mid- August, Bridport, VT
Look closely and you can see the female silk tassels beginning to emerge.
But the result of digging in here was that we were able to depart on a few sacred pilgrimages, that is, several vacations from our vacations, without feeling as though we were wasting our cabin vacation time. First, we headed south to Bennington and Arlington, VT, both of which seem to have much more of their fair share of cultural history, especially for being bucolic hamlets tucked in the Green Mountains.
In Bennington, we stood slapping mosquitoes at the burial site of Robert Frost’s ashes.
The two stones are monuments to Robert Frost and his family. However, the birches planted beside seem the most fitting memorial, especially considering that he’d wanted his poetry, not a grave stone, to represent him after he had gone.
We originally thought we would get to scour the old graveyard for him, but it turns out that the tourist bureau got here before us and left a few bread crumbs. As it was, though, we still managed to take the road less traveled by.
Old Bennington Cemetery at the First Congregational Church in Bennington, VT
From Bennington, we drove route 7 to Arlington which held, among other things, Norman Rockwell’s studio and the unpretentious resort where Michael J. Fox was married. To drive past Mr. Rockwell’s studio, we had to (appropriately) cross a covered bridge which was begin used then as it has always been used (as I was informed) – for teenagers to impress each other by jumping off into the Battenkill River. (Though didn’t get them in the shot.)
After heading south, we turned north to Burlington, specifically Church Street which has been gentrified much like the University Village into a lovely shopping promenade, wiped clean of the several college bars that Kelly remembered.
Church Street, Burlington, VT
What has been added, since the remember days of Groovy UV, however, is the ultimate in dessert destinations, a place my students would be ashamed had I not visited after all the example essays I’ve written on the board concerning the grand confection that is ice cream. The legendary Ben & Jerry’s.
Waffle Cone, Two scoops, Peanut butter chocolate and Triple Caramel Chunk.
Hey, we’ve been biking.
And, after all this travelling, we’ve been lucky to return to our little cabin with the creaking screen that with stood the flash flooding and looks out over this beautiful lake I’ve begun to recognize when I wake up. Its a whole different kind of vacation, to stay in the same place long enough that it acquires that sheen of familiarity, that deeper sense of place that allows me to love it’s intimate details. Rather like they way we love those small corners of friends and family that are only visible when you hang around them long enough to know they chew their lips when they’re thinking or insist on cleaning their fingernails with a pocket knife.
Our next day trip out is to the Saratoga Race Track at which I have been assured that I will win my fortune and be able to retire from teaching by always betting on the brown ones. And when we return, our friendly team of house spiders will welcome us home.