Here is the train station where we picked up our son, who was joining us for a summer holiday. It’s possible to board the train in Washington, DC after breakfast, and arrive in Montpelier, Vermont before sunset. What a concept! Verging on European in its convenience and good sense! What a pity all cities of this country are not similarly connected. Inside the station are eight wooden seats for passengers awaiting the train, and a rock collection featuring local specimens to admire in the meantime.
My favorite parades are not those of the professional gigantic floats and inflatable cartoon characters, but the small-town variety featuring decorated bicycles and the local fire truck. Especially if there are participants expressing themes so personal and local that they are perfectly incomprehensible to an out-of-towner.
Here are cows I sketched on an early morning walk. The lovely and generous cow works hard all the time, transforming grass into milk, butter, and ice cream. Yet she always looks like she’s on vacation.
Whenever I encounter this poem, I receive it as a gentle reminder of the value of cow-ness. I post it here in honor of its author, William Henry Davies (1871-1940), whose birthday it is today.What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare. No time to stand beneath the boughs And stare as long as sheep or cows. No time to see, when woods we pass, Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass. No time to see, in broad daylight, Streams full of stars, like skies at night. No time to turn at Beauty’s glance, And watch her feet, how they can dance. No time to wait till her mouth can Enrich that smile her eyes began. A poor life this is if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.
—William Henry Davies
Follow-up to Each Day post 3/4: more sketches from a Vermont trip, this one from an afternoon hike along country lanes.
To see some really beautiful images of Vermont, go to the blog of Vermont artist Susan Abbott, who, among the many other things she does, has been traveling the state capturing its wonders in paint and sketchbook. Her son is the creator of the “802” video mentioned in yesterday’s post; obviously talent runs in the family.
Although I’ve only visited a few times, I am a great admirer of the state of Vermont. Beautiful, sheep-strewn landscape; charming, funky old country towns; progressive politics; independent, interesting, self-employed people—it is both green and cool in all senses of those words.
Long ago home to Beluga whales when it was an inland sea, then to Algonquin-speaking Native American tribes, it was first spotted by Europeans when Samuel de Champlain sailed its eponymous lake in 1609, leading the way for French exploration and settlement. And for a while it was under French rule. Then British rule. But Vermont declared itself an independent republic in 1777, taking the name from its French heritage, and wrote itself a constitution abolishing slavery, setting up public schools, and granting the vote even to non-landowners. (Male ones, anyway. There are limits even to Vermont’s progressive ideas.)
Today is the anniversary of the day in 1791 when Vermont finally decided to join the Union as its 14th state, a decision some Vermonters probably regret as they see how the rest of us are lagging behind them.
For a laugh to start your day, check out this funny rap video parody made by the son of a Vermont friend, called “802” after the state’s single area code. You have to listen twice to catch some of the lines:
We like our Cabot cheddar extra sharp
Our roofs have leaks so we patch it with a tarp
Cellphone service questionable
Farmers Market is our biggest festival
Got creamiest milk in the fifty states
We go on picnics and dine off paper plates
Biggest piles of snow in the USA
Yeah we made it legal in this state to be gay
Happy Anniversary, Vermont! Stick with us—we’re coming along.