As someone who comes from a decidedly mild (and wet) country, I love travelling to and hearing about countries that turn into magical winter wonderlands during the colder months. So for this Through The Eyes Of A Local interview, I’m excited to introduce you to Caitlin of Country Jumper who will be telling us all about her hometown of Vermont in the US.
1. Could you tell us a little about yourself and where you come from?
I am originally from Vermont. I grew up in a tiny little rural village called Waitsfield. I left quite a few years ago. I went to college in Maryland and then moved abroad. But my parents still live there and it’s still, after all these years, where I consider to be home. It’s actually smack in the center of the state and they tried to make it the capital back when the state was being founded. But our man, General Wait, wouldn’t let them because he didn’t want the town to become overrun. That’s still pretty much the feeling you’ll get from it these days.
2. How long have you lived in Vermont? And what brought you here?
Well, I don’t! I grew up there and continue to return, sometimes for a few weeks, sometimes for a few months, but it’s not where I live. I was born and raised there. My parents came just before I popped out, they are from Boston and Long Island, NY and moved up north for jobs and stayed because, ummm, well I don’t know why exactly!
3. What do you love most about your hometown?
It’s beautiful. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. The Ben & Jerry’s factory is down the road. So is a chocolate and cheese factory. Breweries are plentiful in the region and maple syrup is tapped all throughout the woods.
4. Is there anything that frustrates or annoys you when tourists visit Vermont?
So the most prevalent tourist is from the New York, New Jersey area and we call them ‘flatlanders’ because, ya know, they have no mountains. Ask any Vermonter and they’ll complain about how the flatlanders drive on the roads. We have narrow, windy, two lane roads, so it’s hard to pass. If you get stuck behind some leaf peeping flatlander, you’re not getting anywhere in a hurry. Now, mind you, no one would ever complain if they got stuck because the cows were loose. But the cows are locals.
5. In your opinion, which places in Vermont should be at the top of any visitor’s wishlist?
The covered bridges. It used to amaze me that they were a thing people came to see because they were so standard in my life, they were just there. But now I totally get it. They are spectacularly cute and quaint and perfect. The one closest to my home, in Waitsfield village, got quite badly beat up during hurricane Irene in 2011, it wasn’t a cheap or quick job to repair it but there’s no question about its place in our town.
6. What foods must visitors eat when in Vermont?
Go to American Flatbreads. It’s a pizza place in Waitsfield and it’s pretty famous throughout the northeast. It’s the best pizza I’ve ever had. The specials change nightly and are almost all made from local ingredients, as in, the cow that grew up in the field you’re now eating in. It’s a great place. No reservations though.
Also, Lawsons and Heady Topper are the two most famous local beers. Heady Topper is so popular that people trail the Tuesday delivery truck to snag it off the shelves as soon as it hits them. There’s also a limit on how much each person can buy at one time so they don’t just clear out the shelves, that’s how much people love it. Me, I’m not a fan, but you should try it (if you can find it) and form your own opinion!
7. What advice would you give to somebody moving to Vermont from another country?
Vermont is small town USA. It’s liberal, small town USA, so you’ll be accepted. But you’ll have to work to make friends because most people have been there forever and they all grew up together, and while they would love to have you around, they don’t need you as their best friend so you’ll have to be a bit pushy to get the social ball rolling. Also, it’s really, really cold and snowy in the winter, dress appropriately!
8. If you could describe your hometown in just one sentence, what would you say?
It’s a beautiful, peaceful place full of crazy, liberal hippies, and there are people and things there that you won’t find anywhere else in this world.
9. If tourists were to know one thing about Vermont’s culture, what should that be?
Vermont is a microcosm. It has its own ideas and ideals. It has its own way of life and its own culture. It produces people and things that are so unique and revolutionary to the rest of the world. Bernie has been our state senator for 10 years, after all.
10. Is there anything else we should know about Vermont?
In Vermont we say there are 6 seasons. Spring, summer, autumn and winter. Plus stick season and mud season. Stick season comes along after the stunning autumn foliage has fallen from the branches, and before the snow and snow bunnies from down south turn up. Mud season is when the piles and piles of winter snow melt in the early spring and turn all our dirt roads to muddy ruts. These two times of the year are when there are literally no tourists in sight. It’s when one might consider Vermont to be ugly. But, really, it’s when Vermont is at its most pure.
Thanks Caitlin – we’ve loved getting to know you and Vermont better!
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