It was actually back in July 11th that I hit the road to begin updating Vermont, An Explorer's Guide for the 12th time. That's not counting the summer spent researching the original edition in 1983.
It was by chance that summer that sixth generation Vermonter Peter Jennison, founder of Countryman Press in Woodstock, became my co-author. My other was in the hospital and I had to be there for her so he stepped in. Peter co-authored the first eight editions and many of the most elegant words in the book remain his. Many were also contributed by my most recent co-author Diane Foulds, an eighth generation Vermonter. The wisdom of having a Vermonter to split up the work of covering and chronicling the state is obvious. My co-worker on this edition is Charlotte resident Rachel Carter.
The following notes date from my first week this past summer.
Two days, two faces of Vermont that couldn’t be more different.
Morning began in Barnard with a tour of Twin Farms (twinfarms.com), the most expensive and luxurious place to stay in New England. Each of the 20 widely scattered and wildly different “cottages” is an amazing work of design an crafstmanship.
In Woodstock I toured a the The Woodstock Inn (woodstockinn.com), which has added a beautifully designed spa and pool and the new, very gracious Blue Horse Inn (ttp://www.thebluehorseinn.com/), ,both bargains by comparison -- three figures vs. four – but definitely upscale and geared to weddings. My discovery of the day: the Trap Door Bakerhouse Café in Quechee, just off Rt. 4 but a great old house with tables overlooking Queehee Gorge.
Much as I like Woodstock’s shops and galleries, it was a relief to leave its traffic and high prices behind and head back up Rt. 12—stopping at the Barnard General Store for the third time in two days—and up the ridge road to Bethel. Black clouds and hailstone warnings added drama and the heavens let loose as I headed on up another ridge road from Randolph Center to Brookfield.
Pond Village in Brookfield remains as charmed as ever! The floating bridge, buoyed on barrels because the pond-sized “Sunset Lake” is closed to motor traffic but that just makes it more inviting to walk out on and there is usually at least one fisherman.
The site of the former general store (it burned) is no a grassy park from which you can wade into the Sunset Lake and the house next door is Ariel’s Restaurant, which was jammed even midweek. Chef Lee Duberman has always been a localvore and now offers a Sunday Nigh Farm Supper entirely sourced (okay, not the salt & pepper) from within ten, frequently eight miles.
What’s new & exciting here is the Floating Bridge Food and Farm Coop (floatingbridgefoodandfarmcoop)which includes local B&Bs as well as
I visited a number of the farms—which vary widely in look, feel and products—goat milk and cheese, pork and greens, yogurt and maple syrup, veggies and fruit at all. None of these farmers are old timers. Most are young women A few are retirees. Six offer lodging and the two attractive B&Bs in Pond Village—which is known for its “floating bridge” (on barrels) are also members of the coop. The website is illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist Ed Koren, who also lives in Pond Village.