What is it like to live in Vermont?

Recently I was asked to comment on “What is it like to live in Vermont?” My answer could take on several tacks, so I touched on those that seemed most relevant.

Vermont has a very human scale – it was something that I noticed when I moved here from New Jersey nearly 25 years ago. It was that scale that held the greatest appeal to me.

Towns and our (small) cities have very distinct identities. People tend to be connected to their neighbors and communities and actively seek out ways in which to sustain and improve their place of habitation.

There seems to be a little of something for everyone, though very little in excess. The mountains are large but approachable, the cities are diverse but not complex, the people are friendly yet still reserved like most Yankees.

Culturally Vermont still seems to be evolving to me. Burlington has a growing immigrant population of Somali and Bosnians, migrant farm workers are on the rise throughout the state, and people from other states in the Union continue to find the Vermont way of life very appealing to their lifestyle. It’s an interesting mix of Yankee, New York & New Jersey personalities.

The seasons are distinct here, though winter is the most dominant. We even include a 5th season – mud season! For an idea of what I mean by mud-season look here:

The spring is marked by Sugar-on-Snow parties (http://www.vtliving.com/maple/su…). It’s not easy explaining to a flat-lander the significance of Sugar-On-Snow, nor the ritual involved with it. It’s the end of a typically long and bleak winterand the celebration of spring and the renewal of life, not to mention indulging in one of our State’s most notable exports. I’m not really sure about the Dill pickle part, but damn it tastes good.

Vermont has it’s quirks too. We are welcoming to new people, yet not to new development. We claim to be green, but few people wish to crowd our views with solar panels or wind mills. We romanticize our agrarian past (and future?) provided we do not have to live downwind of a farm or know where/how animals get slaughtered. We want economic development provided the businesses do not bring too many people or infrastructure needs.

Politically we are liberal, perhaps too much at times for a healthy balance and genuine debate, although we had a Republican Governor for 8 years. And regardless of your political affiliation, you can meet the Governor and it’s not really a big deal. Vermont in population would not even register as a small town in most states. Often people from out of state will ask me, “Do you know so and so..” and quite often I do. We are all neighbors.

We are Ben & Jerry’s, we are Phish, we are same-sex marriage, we are “Quiet” Calvin Coolidge, we are “Freedom and Unity” (think about the contradiction of that for a moment). We are Vermonters.

I love Vermont.

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