Saturday’s forecast in Vermont called for rain all day, skiing and snowshoeing were out. Tom, Bill and I did a quick cardio workout at the gym, Jana caught up on some reading, before deciding what we would do with our day. We tossed around driving to Stowe or Burlington and settled on both. I called my cousin, Chris, who lives in Stowe and made plans to swing by for a quick visit after exploring the village. After picking up sandwiches to eat in the car we got on the road due north, about a two-hour drive. In Stowe, we wandered along the main street; I’ve never been and wanted to duck into most stores and shops we passed. We pulled books off of shelves, laughed at funny greeting cards in one store, filled a small paper bag with swedish fish and chocolate covered oreos at another shop, modeled fur-lined hats with ear flaps and bought maple syrup in yet another one. Once we had our fill we drove out of the village, up, up, up winding gravel roads to my cousin’s house. Ella, their chocolate lab, greeted us along with the family.
I last saw my cousin, his wife and their kids, at a family wedding in the summer of 2013. They welcomed the four of us into their home, gracious hosts on short notice. We made ourselves comfortable around the kitchen’s center island where drinks and cheese and crackers were offered. It was a quick visit, we had plans for dinner in Burlington, but we managed to fill each other in on our lives and the others in our family. My dad’s birthday is Saturday, my sister planned a party for him at a restaurant near his home; Chris’ mom and dad, my aunt and uncle will be there. We left with talk of another visit this Summer; their house butts up against Land Trust property with miles of trails.
On the road again, we drove an hour west to Burlington where Tom and Jana’s niece attends college. We picked her up, parked the car in a downtown garage and walked the pedestrian mall to get a feel for the town. It was drizzling and damp, the night duskier than it would have been on a clear day. Lake Champlain, off in the distance, was a dark, glossy mass. The streets were filled with students and older adults alike, talking, smoking, carrying shopping bags. We took our time, looked left and right, pointed out certain specialty shops and coffee bars. At dinner, we heard about Leigh’s recent trip to Ireland, passed around her phone to admire her photos.
Dinner over, stomachs full, we walked back to our car, dropped off Leigh and started the two-hour drive back to Mt Ascutney. Rain mixed with snow, creating icy conditions. Tom, driver extraordinaire, got us home safe and sound. Everyone slept in on Sunday morning, lazy and tired from our previous day’s tour of VT. Walking to the general store for breakfast, we took a shortcut through a snow packed field, over a wooden bridge to the main road. We drank large cups of coffee, ate eggs, toast, and homemade donuts that we asked the day before be put aside for us; we didn’t want to take the chance they’d sell out, they usually do.
After our late breakfast we sat in the living room digesting our food; we talked, watched a comedian’s stand up performance on Netflix. The laptop signaled its need to be plugged in, the sign we needed to get moving. We packed up and got on the road, listening first to songs of the 70s; when we got bored we switched to songs of the 60s.