November 7, 2016

Kate George’s World of Vermont

Some places are very much the same year-round, but not rural Vermont. I moved here in the summer, nearly twenty years ago now, and it was green and lush. It reminded me of a rainforest, it was that full of vegetation.  Houses were hidden behind walls of trees and bushes. I had no idea what the landscape was really like. Although I might get a glimpse of a river or a mountain, the roads ran through tunnels of trees and fierce undergrowth, the sunlight filtered through a million leaves.
Until we hit foliage season. My Aunt once asked me if it was as pretty as all the calendar pictures she had seen. It is so much more than that. Every autumn is different. Some years the reds are dominant, some the yellows or the oranges. It can seem to go on for weeks or be over before it’s started. Those pictures you’ve seen? Where I live every turn in the road, every crest of a hill affords another opportunity for overwhelming

And then it freezes. Now everything is grey. The stands of trees that hid the vistas from the road are barren. The undergrowth that filled every gap with greenery disappears. Vermont in November can be stark and unwelcoming, the corn fields cut to stubble and every contour visible, the river a cold steel ribbon cutting through the valley.
But now it snows and the world is transformed. The first snow is magic. It softens the sharp edges and hides the grey stubble of fallow fields. The trees are dressed in layers of white, hanging low over a road that reminds me that sleighs once traveled here. You can see forever from the top of the hill, and the sun reflecting off the brilliant sparkling landscape is breathtaking. The air burns skin and lungs, but being outside is worth it. We go sliding – what you might call sledding – and skating on the now solid lakes and ponds, or on the ice rink the town erects on the green. We ski and snowshoe. The winter goes on forever.

We call the thaw “mud season.” That’s because many of us live and travel on unpaved dirt roads. Yes, Vermont has as many, if not more, unpaved roads than paved. On a good year, mud season will last only a few weeks and the roads will remain passable. Bad years can find your vehicle stuck to the axle in the mud hole that used to be a road. We learn to be flexible.
Spring is almost non-existent. We see a few crocuses, then the daffodils and the snow that has persisted in the shady spots finally disappears and then we are back in full summer. The vistas hidden behind walls of greenery once again.

Come to Vermont any time of year. She will always surprise you. Visit Silver Lake in Barnard, or Quechee Gorge in Quechee. Ski on one of the many mountains. But here’s what I suggest. Instead of going to the easy places – the biggest or most famous mountain slopes, the café that is right off the interstate – find the places the locals go. Ski Suicide Six for a day. Find the café in town where the locals go – like Chelsea Station in South Royalton Vermont. You’ll meet the locals, hear the old timers speak vernacular Vermontese and learn about the places and events that are dear to Vermonters. You will discover the heart of Vermont and it is well worth knowing.

Kate George is the author of the Bree MacGowan Mystery Series, originating in the heart of Vermont. She can be found at  and her books can be found at

To one lucky winner who comments, Kate George offers a hardcopy of one of her novels.  Leave your contact info as entry!
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  1. I loved your rendition of Vermont in each season. My family was lucky enough to co-own a house on Lake Champlain and we spent 2 weeks there every June. I have loads of fond memories of playing in a lake that seemed as big as an ocean (except we could see New York on the other side.)

    It is indeed a beautiful state! I stayed with a woman who lived in Quechee a few years ago. It was Peony season! She gave me a fabulous coffee-table book of Vermont photos. I treasure it, not only for the memories of my Junes there, but it's a chance to see the beauty in every season. Well described, my friend!

  2. Nice post. Makes me want to visit Vermont.

  3. Thanks so much for having me, Annette! I love to brag about my home in Vermont. I'm happy to answer questions...

  4. This Broody New Englander loves Vermont. My wife and I used to visit South Woodstock in all five seasons and never regretted a visit. Our dogs loved to play in the snow, run on the leaves, and even roll in the mud. As for the glorious summer, they wanted to swim in the ponds and rivers. Spring was great for exploring everything new and suddenly alive. We humans enjoyed the friendly people and the gorgeous scenery. We rode horses, walked, and even tried skiing. Just a wonderful state of being that Vermont.

  5. A visit to see the autumn leaves is one of the item on my bucket list. I live in SC, and it can be very pretty here, but usually not like those pictures you see. Thanks for sharing about your home.

  6. When we lived in Montreal we took a road trip to Vermont every summer. This was such a wonderful and enjoyable change. We are very familiar with lake Champlain and it is so vast and impressive. Vermont is charming and beautiful. Thanks for your lovely feature and descriptive beauty.

  7. Vermont has such dramatic seasons. The winter is sheer beauty and the summer breathtaking. I love Vermont for its quaint towns, and interesting cities. Burlington, Montpelier and the cute towns which give me so much pleasure. What a great place.

  8. I grew up in Connecticut, not Vermont, but this made me nostalgic - not necessarily for mud season but for all the rest.

  9. I visited the Stowe area one summer--beautiful! And of course visited the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream factory--Yum! My visit to Vermont was a positive one. Your books look like fun reads!

  10. I spend a lot of time in Vermont. (But not during the mud season!) We ski a lot, have our annual trip to Ben & Jerry's, and I love to visit the charming towns-Woodstock, Stowe, Grafton etc.

  11. Husband's brother teaches at University of Vermont, so we've been to Burlington and nearby areas. We camped at one of the state parks, and it was gorgeous! Great hiking trails and like you said, green everywhere. We'll be back someday, since Vermont is definitely on our list of places to revisit when we have more time.


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