a tiny hand painted sign meekly announced on the side of Route 9 outside of Bennington, Vermont. We were curious and followed a meandering dirt route for more than a mile. I voted we turn back as Matt was meeting an old friend in a few hours and I began to fear we were at the short end of a wild goose chase but Matt said no that I always wanted to turn back and that we should be a bit more patient. Sure enough, another little hand painted sign materialized in the woods and we were emboldened to carry on.
We saw farms covered in solar panels and raspberries trellised everywhere. When we finally arrived at Whetstone Ledges Farm, the stand was unattended. There was a little slot to drop money, a notebook to tally your total and produce neatly stacked on the rustic shelves. It was enchanting. As we and the children nibbled our way down the rows of raspberries, I was struck with a full belly feeling of utter bliss. An every type of fullness.
A southern girl at heart, I had always dismissed Matt’s passionate goings-on about one of his favorite states as the ravings of a slightly mad man. For me, even the mountains of North Carolina were too cold in the winter. Why anyone would voluntarily live that far north was beyond me. Yet on our way home from our trip to the northeast, when we crossed the state line into New Hampshire, I felt the first fractures in my heart. I wanted to turn our car north again all the way back down south. I was smitten.
We made a brief stop for some lunch at a “farm stand” (glorified grocery store with no local item anywhere to be seen) in Massachusetts, I excused myself to the bathroom and quietly wept. Why were we leaving? We hadn’t even gotten any maple syrup or taken my picture in front of a moose crossing sign (Matt’s nickname for me has long been Moose- an acronym for Mother of our Sadie.
The abundance of local food, progressive programs to save local agriculture and build resilient food webs, the absence of billboards and sprawl in the countryside and the beautiful scenery make Vermont a place that will steal your heart. But don’t take it from me. Go see for yourself.