Monday, August 1, 2011

vermont heat

is it always this hot in Vermont? not even ten in the morning and the sun is already hard at work. i wonder how i will deal with moving to a desert African country. I've been reading this Namibian Novel, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo, which seems to be 300 page of people waiting for the hot heat to pass by.

there's too much that we want to see in this state, though, to spend our time sleeping in siesta. in the morning we drove out to Stowe and biked along the scenic rec path which winds around Mountain Road and the West Branch River. It's an exciting bike route, taking you so deep into the dark quiet woods that you think you've found refuge from the high noon sun, and then suddenly it spits you out into a wide open cornfield under a blue blue sky, the mountains filling in the skyline behind. You find yourself whipping past bustling farmers markets, lacrosse games, lemonade stands manned by entrepreneurial six year olds. at one point, the bike path crosses a horse trail, which was unexpected for us, but it was really something to see a cowboy and his big majestic horse step out suddenly in front of the bike path and into the river to cool off. it seemed like a good idea, so my sister and i took our shoes off and waded in the river to cool off. we weren't the only ones with that plan; it seemed like around every river bend there were kids splashing in the shallow parts of the West Branch River.

random kids in the river

random horse in the river

it smells like home. home smells like cow manure.

We stopped off at the Stowe Farmers' Market for lunch where i got myself some Afghanistan-style food - obviously quite native to Vermont cuisine. It was delicious but didn't really help me deal with the summer heat, especially after a twenty kilometre bike ride. LUCKILY VERMONT IS HOME TO THE BEN AND JERRY'S FACTORY.

Even though we visited the Ben and Jerry's ice cream factory on the weekend when there was no production going on, it was still clearly a magical place, even without any oompah-loompahs in sight. a magical place full of so many wittily named flavours of calorific happiness, teeming with children with wide eyes, adults with wide eyes, and babies with crying eyes, although i'm not sure what they could possibly be crying about, since they're at BEN AND JERRY'S. how could unhappiness even survive in a place like this? we tried the Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream, which was full of liberal-biased goodness and tasted like waffles and freedom. I feel as though, however, I will regret for the rest of my life (or at least until my next trip to the grocery store) not having tried the Phish flavour of ice cream.

i am thirty-two flavours and then some

happiness in 1000 calories

After gorging on ice cream, my dad decided we should drive over to Montpelier, the state capital, population roughly 8000. it's nestled deeply in the green mountains and miles of nothingness from which suddenly emerges the startlingly grand, gold-roofed State Capitol building. it's quite the unnerving sight. also unusual is the high concentration of lawyers and law offices. it's just not right.

seriously that is one out of place building in the mountains

Montpelier is a quiet capital city that is even quieter on a lazy Sunday afternoon. for some reason, it's unsettling. my sister, who was too young to remember living in the hamlet of Highland (population 5000), is freaked out by the small town feel and demands to know what is going on. why are the streets so empty. why are strangers looking at me. why are they talking to me. i try to explain that it's probably more small town friendliness rather than covert attempts at purse snatching; that the strangers are just ordinary folks curious about the tourists, and not homeless wanderers, but she remains suspicious. we stroll around the block and get back to the car to head back to the hotel. you never think about Ottawa being a big city, but once you think about how our city sensibilities (lock your doors, don't talk to strangers, watch out for cars in the streets) don't match the pace of smaller towns, you begin to recognize that Ottawa is indeed a city, and that there is a whole other way of living life.

we had dinner at the Vermont Pub and Brewery, which features home-brewed beers and shockingly cheap pub fare. i ordered a tray of sampler beers (Forbidden Fruit, Curacao Wit, Grand Slam Baseball Beer, and the gold medal winner of the 2006 Great International Beer Competition, Burly Irish Ale). all of the samples are $1 each. i decide that i absolutely must make it to the Vermont Brewers Festival next year. i could never live in Burlington. I would grow a beer gut so fast.

like a beautiful rainbow of beers

we ended our day strolling down the boardwalk at the lakefront. the sun was just setting, finally leaving a cool air, and the yachts had all been docked and teenagers had assembled on the swings, drinking beers out of paper bags, nodding politely to the cops passing by. we commented about how this reminded us of Kingston, of Vancouver, of Victoria, basically any city by the water that wasn't Ottawa. Why doesn't Ottawa have a boardwalk like this? with swings?