Everybody Likes Vermont
Everybody likes Vermont and it’s not surprising. As soon as I crossed the border into the ripe, bosomy hills of southern Vermont there was a perceptible change in the landscape, in the red barns and the proud flutter of Stars and Stripes. I entered it via State Highway 100 which lifted me quickly into a particularly appealing part of the Green Mountains, where piney forests were dissected by streams that galloped over mossy boulders. Highway 100 divides Vermont into roughly equal halves as it meanders from the Massachusetts border to Quebec. It’s also known as the “leaf-peepers” route, the favoured artery for the hordes who clog the state for a couple of weeks in early October each year to sigh over the autumn foliage, which reaches a gaudy climax here in Vermont.
Although I had vague notions of following the highway all the way to the Canadian border, mine was an aimless journey. When my guidebook proposed a scenic detour to the towns of Newfane and Grafton, I was happy to accept.
Newfane is classic Vermont, poking above the sugar maples in the depths of the West River Valley in a way that warms the heart. At its heart is Newfane Common, where the Congregational Church, the Newfane Village Union Hall and the Windham County Courthouse form a triangle of pristine white buildings.
Grafton was even better – a cluster of red barns and neat white double-storey houses with mossy gabled roofs at the bottom of a steep-sided valley with a stream running through the middle. Back in the 1960s, the Windham Foundation was established to preserve and protect this little corner of New England niceness.
Although it has a population of less than 600, Weston has a big rep among the show biz fraternity, thanks to the Weston Playhouse. Come summer and the writers, artists and actors of New York City stage a mass exodus and where do they come but Vermont, and specifically Weston!
Another good reason for visiting Weston; the Vermont Country Store (Purveyors of the Practical and Hard to Find). Country stores are one of the joys of small town America, and in particular of rural Vermont. Cluttered, slightly chaotic, open all hours, family owned and operated, they are very model of Yankee virtue. One of the distinguishing features of this landscape is the complete lack of highway advertising, which has been banned from the state since 1969. This adds immeasurably to the pleasure of driving through rural Vermont,