Saturday, August 21, 2010

Reflections from Vermont

Back in Peru, winding up another August, and therefore time for the Priest Lane observations collection:
-- My son and I took the Prius to see "The Other Guys" in Bennington a few days ago. The pilloried vehicle served us well as always. The movie, preceded by stops at the Gamer Grotto and the Rattlesnake, was amusing; my son is a big Will Ferrell fan, though I thought Mark Wahlberg really stepped up. Downtown Bennington is an interesting case. No critical mass of people living downtown as far as I could see. But coming down from the north on the "new" Route 7 you would think it was a huge metropolis, with wide, sweeping off-ramps and massive interchanges. This got us talking about why there's a new Route 7 in the first place, through such a rural area. It's great for trucks, and it certainly whisked us from Manchester in a hurry, but how many trips like that are in demand? The answer is, even in crunchy, local-food, local-energy Vermont, we can't shake our love affair with bigger and better roadways. Patrick Leahy has clearly steered millions in stimulus money for repaving here; Route 11 is as smooth as could be. Departments of Transportation are as single-minded as they have been for decades. They were trying to create a Route 7 bypass in my hometown of Wilton, Conn. nearly 40 years ago; the neighbors fought it, Jane Jacobs-style, though the Norwalk segment was built. They wanted the same thing around Pittsfield, Mass., when I was a reporter at The Berkshire Eagle. The road construction work around Bennington seemed to suggest the same old thinking -- that somehow a lot of big roads and bridges and overpasses will save a city. On this point, at least, there is little recognition that the fossil-fuel era is over.
-- The farmer's market in Londonderry continues to be a wonderful experience. We are veterans now. We take out a lot of cash to be prepared, but we spend wisely. You have to pick and choose. We're big supporters of locally grown produce and meats and everything, but $13 for a pound of bacon, $4 eggs and $7 unprocessed milks tests one's principles. Like moths to a flame, however, we are heading back this morning, our last Saturday here.
-- Wildlife sightings included a big heron swooping down to the pond and departing at the first sign of dawn movement in the kitchen; a wild turkey mother who seemed like she was six feet tall with a half-dozen (chicks?); Eastern newts and red eft salamanders with their neon blue dots, which I am convincing my middle son we can't keep as pets; springy frogs, Monarch butterflies, crickets and grasshoppers, finches, jays, hawks, and hummingbirds.
-- Something about being up here and real estate. We made an offer on the new house while here on Memorial Day; we accepted an offer on the old house also while here, in both cases borrowing printers and fax machines from stores and neighbors.
-- My youngest son, being toilet-trained here (with great success!) just sprinted from the training potty and out the door, naked, scampering on the dew-soaked lawn in the sunshine. That ain't happening back in Boston. But for everything there is a season.