Foliage Time inVermont's Northeast Kingdom

A Piece of Genuine Authenticity
By Deborah Straw
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Carved pumpkins in a cart

Growing up in the '50s and '60s, I spent many summer vacations on my grandfather's dairy farm in Plainfield, Vermont, at the edge of the Northeast Kingdom. I loved the rolling hills dotted with Holsteins, the corn fields, the general stores and snack bars, and the frequent sightings of white-tailed deer, raccoons and groundhogs. It was an idyllic place to spend summers. Thankfully, it still is. Unlike much of America, which seems to have been paved over, condo-ized, and homogenized, this small rural section of Vermont hasn't changed much in the intervening 30 years.

The Northeast Kingdom, named by former Vermont Senator George Aiken,is our state's most rural and most unspoiled corner. It consists of 1.3million acres - nearly 2,000 square miles - and the highest concentration of ponds and lakes in Vermont. Its residents are proud that no WalMarts, K Marts, or Taco Bells are located here. Instead there still are more farms, farmers' markets, roadside stands and general stores than in other parts of the state.

The general stores, in particular, are legendary; often owned by the same families for generations, they are places where you can buy almost anything from an Italian grinder (known in other parts of the U.S. as a submarine sandwich), a good bottle of wine, and a sweatshirt, to a road map, homemade doughnuts, dog kibble, and paper towels. Some even include post offices or a lunch counter, and in many of the tiny towns, these cozy stores are the center of the community - a hospitable place to catch up on local gossip and to buy some fresh, hot coffee. Disregard (or admire) the moose or deer head and antlers inevitably hanging in the store.

In short, this corner of the country really is a small piece of genuine America.

You can still hear real Vermont accents here, and the many French Canadians who live in the area add to the twangy linguistic mix. Here, too, the climate is harsher - longer winters, shorter and cooler summers, more splendid foliage in the fall. The wildlife is some of the most abundant in the state, as the habitat is relatively undisturbed. Not surprisingly, it is also one of the best areas in the state for hiking, scenic drives, mountain biking, leaf peeping and nature watching.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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