Winter in Vermont

Living in Vermont is a certain kind of special. It’s often hard to put my finger on exactly what makes it such a joy to live here, but as a picture is worth a good thousand words or so, may I please present Exhibit A:

vermont-dog-middle-of-road

Exhibit A

That’s a dog, lying in the middle of the road. He likes to hang out there in the warmer months, usually on the inside of the curve, usually somewhere near that house off in the distance.

As far as I know, nobody’s ever hit the dog, and nobody’s ever complained that a dog shouldn’t be using the warm pavement of the road to warm himself. Interesting.

But this story isn’t about warm pavement. It’s about winter. And winter arrived with a vengeance, dropping over 8 inches of snow on everything:

a-bunch-of-snowThis was once a fire pit:

a-fire-pit-i-swearAnd this was once a house… actually, it looks pretty snazzy with all the snow on it!

heres-where-i-live

For Thanksgiving, I headed down to Boston to spend some time with friends. Rebekah had some time-off from work, so she flew in from Dallas. In what is far too long a story to contain in this margin, I acquired a sizable quantity of turducken tri-duckin’ shirts, and handed them out to everyone I knew as official uniforms for the delicious day. I still have a few left, so if you’re near me next November, we’ll talk about suitable bribes:

tri-ducking-tshirts

After Thanksgiving, Rebekah and I made our way back up to Vermont. The weather timed itself perfectly, with the sun bright and the roads very clear, but the branches still delightfully flocked with snow for all of our drive.

snow-driving-up-with-rebekah-after-turkey-day

When I got home, the postman had brought me a package. It was shoes! Next time I’ll ask REI to send me the shoes one at a time:

Cabot, Vermont is home to the Cabot Creamery Cooperative, and the birthplace of some of the finest cheddar I’ve ever eaten. Although I’ve lived in the state for many years, I must confess that I’d never gotten around to visiting the factory in Cabot. Rebekah and I set about to right that wrong, and had a marvelous time touring the facility and snacking on endless cheese samples, including the very-limited, very-aged ‘Old School’ cheddar.

The factory was jolly good, but I did wish that I could have gotten a bit more hands-on with all of the amazing machines and devices they have to offer. Maybe next time? This was my favorite picture from the trip:

they-didnt-let-me-drive-itAfter the trip to Cabot, we waddled got back across the river just in time to attend the tree-lighting ceremony on the Green in Hanover:

rebekah-and-I-attending-the-hanover-tree-lightingThe camera on my phone is infinitely useful — in fact, all of the pictures here were taken with it. It’s not great at taking pictures in the dark, but sometimes the limitations of the device can lead to fun outcomes, especially when you shake it a bit while snapping the shutter:

fun-things-happen-when-you-shake-your-cameraThis one looks like there’s a large white bird sitting on top of the tree:

fun-things-happen-when-you-shake-your-camera_closeup

Christmas Eve was spent in the delightful company of Shaun and Migdalia. We cooked, drank egg nog, and diligently planned the next day.

christmas-eve-with-shaun-and-migdalia

Christmas is one of the best days of the year, because it’s a Food Holiday! Most chidlers (as the BFG would call them), are overexcited to wake up, tear downstairs, and discover what’s been left in the carefully-hung stockings. Here’s what I like to call my “cast iron stocking”

christmas-morning

A pineapple, I am told, is a sign of hospitality in New England. So when I heard that pineapples were on sale, I got a few of them, and also procured some suitable quaff to help dispel any lingering chill my guests might have from the wintry winds

christmas_wine-pineapple-wine-pineapple-wine-pineapple

Some places do not experience the magic of snow quite as much as we do in Vermont, so they have to resort to substitutions. This particular item instructs people to stuff Santa with leaves or old newspapers. Personally, I’d rather stuff him with ale and meat pies, as I assume I’d get a much better ROI when he hands out presents:

confusing-santa-for-places-without-snow

Lacking an actual mantle, and mourning the loss of the radiant embrace of the wood stove, I made a makeshift mantle for the stocking above the ranks of cookbooks. Several friends helped to anchor the top, including a giant stegosaurus, a tiny triceratops, and three kings three ducks tri-duckin’ I found floating on the pond out back.

mantle-substituteAs it turns out, 4 stockings wasn’t quite enough for all the Christmas attendees, so some upgrading was in order, and some additional characters were added to the ensemble cast on top to weight-down the plank, including a penguin and a horn-toting, scale-model of Chris Gilsdorf:

more-people-need-stockingsThe Christmas Tree was decked in splendid finery, including a pie bird at the top, potato peelers and other hand tools (ala Festus & Mercury), candy canes, blue lights, various hard-drive parts, a LibreOffice ornament, a small aeroplane, many balls, Qui-Gon Jinn (thank you Bill Scavone), more horns than a Big Band, a strange-looking Santa Claus, dried chipotle peppers, and a caterpillar snake and an apple:

my-christmas-tree

After a hearty breakfast of bacon, waffles, eggs, and more bacon, it was time for stockings and presents. I heard that Shaun needed some sugar, so I bought him a few pounds. I got an extra bag, because one can never be too sure. With all that sweetener sitting on the floor I got a bit worried, so I recruited some muscle (in the form of an anteater), just in case some uninvited guests decided to crash the party.

Little-known fact: To make the New England blue sugar pictured here you don’t use sugar beets or sugar cane, but blue pumpkins. The pair on the left I got from New Hampshire native Maggie Flanagan:

christmas-presents_anteaterAfter presents, it was time for more food. And tiny forks, because tiny forks are almost as awesome as tongs:

christmas-midday

During the winter, something arguably better than tongs is a nice kettle, and in this area I had, heretofore, been lacking. Shaun’s mother caught wind of my situation, and gave to me a most splendid stainless steel specimen. It had been owned by her mother, and was accompanied by a large, floral tea cosy.

Not only is the kettle right at home on the stove, but with its shiny appearance can grace any table for serving. In this chill, I enjoy having it nearby to help keep my hands warm whenever a cold breeze attacks:

tea-kettle

For now, the snow covers everything as far as the eye can see. All I have to do is step out my front door, strap on my snowshoes, and head out into the forest

walk-out-into-the-front-yardBut I’m sure that before I realize it’s happening, the winter will end, and spring will come, and soon it will be time to get ready for Corny Island once more…

corny-islandHave a wonderful winter, everyone!

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