Vermont, known for Ben & Jerry’s, the Green Mountains, Bernie Sanders, and so much more, is arguably the most beautiful state in the US to enjoy fall foliage (I will probably say this about each state I visited).
You may have noticed that I was gone for a few weeks (or maybe you didn’t and in that case, my feelings are hurt); I was on an epic cultural roadtrip through New England, and I definitely forgot to schedule posts (smort). But I’m back, baby, and ready to share some pictures of autumn with y’all.
Trust me, when you get older, you will be thrilled by simple notions such as leaves turning different colors.
nothing gold can stay
Living in Southern California, there’s not enough frost to precipitate the brilliant change in autumn colors. Speaking of frost, all time great American poet Robert Frost had a home in Shaftsbury, VT where he wrote some of his most memorable lines.
Like that transition? I’m a poet, and I don’t even know it ;). Robert Frost is my favorite bard, maybe because I’m basic, but also because his themes of isolation and existence, thinly guised in verses about nature and travel, spoke to me as an emo kid.
If you’ve ever spent any significant time in the rolling mountains of New England, you will get a sense of why so many great writers came from or sought out this area. It’s a little moody, a little serene, a lot inspiring. The pastoral, rural life that is so associated with American novels of the 19th century (Melville, Twain, Alcott, etc) were all born of this part of the country because of the abundance of these rustic, everyday scenes.
There are natural muses just waiting to be found — I guess that’s why there are so many great literature programs in this region. One of the most famous is that of Bennington College in Bennington, VT. The university owns the above mentioned Robert Frost House and has converted it into a museum where poetry readings are held. He won the first of his Pulitzers while living and working the land on this farm.
I’ve now been to two Robert Frost homes (there’s one in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston that is just notated by a plaque), if you’re keeping count.
As if it couldn’t be more agrarian, Bennington has covered bridges! Apparently there are more than 100 covered bridges in the state of Vermont and there are some very well preserved ones in this city. I am that person, because I love a covered bridge and I’ve also seen the famous Bridges of Madison County in Iowa– which inspired another American novella of loneliness and suffering.
I’m sensing a theme here.
The Henry covered lattice bridge was/is the oldest bridge in Bennington County and spans the Wallomsac river. Just across the bridge is William Henry House, a revolutionary era home that now serves as a luxury B&B. They love their B&Bs in Vermont — I definitely could not stop thinking about that episode of Friends where Ross and Chandler hit up a Vermont B&B and Ross gets hopped up on maple candies. (Friends reference count: 2 so far)
Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of Bennington is the gigantic Battle of Bennington Monument. This monolithic behemoth towers 306 ft over the city, and you can see clear into NY and Massachusetts from the observatory.
Technically this battle happened a few miles away in New York, but it stands at the site where there was an important store of weapons/food. Thus, the British were trying to capture this fort when they were defeated by General John Stark and his men in 1777.
The great thing about long roadtrips through America is that the routes are pretty easy to drive and for the most part, it’s fairly standard. The worst thing is that you can’t take that many pictures while driving, but maybe that allows one to enjoy the fleeting moments of flashing beauty. There are still the same gas stations and big box stores, creature comforts like roadside diners, farm homesteads and fast food outlets. It makes it super navigable even when you’re on the windy backroads of Vermont. The best thing is that these paths are dotted with small towns that draw in tourists with their nostalgic appearance.
One such town is Wilmington, VT. What must be a hotbed for hardcore B&B-ers, this mountain village is something out of a movie. At the foot of Mount Snow, very popular in the winter, the several blocks that make up this town are packed with storefronts, inns and restaurants, including the famous Dot’s that was rebuilt after Hurricane Irene in 2011. Lines upon lines of weekender couples waiting for their bennys and french toast.
The drive along Vermont 100 in the fall is life affirming. Tranquil and colorful. This was my second time to Vermont, a state that is not-so-secretly very chill and sophisticated in its bucolic glory. I hope to make it back here soon, if only to replay my VERY Phish heavy roadtrip playlist.
These woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep– Robert Frost
Famous sons & daughters: Felicity Huffman, Melissa Leo, Miranda July, Calvin Coolidge, Chester Arthur, Brigham Young (what are they breeding award winning actresses and leaders? I guess we’ll see in 2020). Honorable mention to Vermont residents: Bernie Sanders and the von Trapp family.
Eat: Ben & Jerry’s, all day, every day. Maple syrup, Green Mountain coffee, cheddar
Listen to: PHISH, honorable mention to Analyze Phish podcast (RIP Harris Wittels)
Souvenirs: Maple syrup and candy, obvs.