There are a few signs Spring is beginning in Vermont:1. The rest of the Northeast has already acknowledged Spring has begun (usually 3 weeks prior).2. Back roads are completely under mud. If you have never driven a Vermont mud road in the Spring, it is hard to explain, but I will try. Roads that are dry and flat in the summer, and a nice, flat sheet of snow in the winter, turn to total crap the other 2 months of the year. You get three main types of mud: 1. the thick, car trails, as seen above, 2. the giant, deep potholes, and 3. wash board divets. All try their best to ruin you car and make you drive 5 mph. When you are given advice to purchase a four wheel drive vehicle when living in Vermont, it isn’t for the snow, it’s for the 4 inch mud car trails that grab on to either side of your wheels and take you wherever they decide you will go.3. Smoke billows out of maple huts off every major Vermont road. Yes, Spring is equal to maple season in Vermont. It begins in southern Vermont and then heads to central and northern Vermont a few weeks later. During this time, you can’t drive down a Vermont road without noticing maple syrup in production. These are all very apparent right now. On my drive home from work yesterday, I first noticed three different maple farms in production. Then, once I was only four miles from home, I hit the great mud road from Wolcott to Elmore. I was successful in my journey home, although I hit potholes so hard that my CD skipped, turned my four wheel drive on during a jaunt up a hill covered in 4 inch car trails, and got a slight headache due to the endless wash board pivots. Unfortunately, this back road will stay covered in mud for at least another month, so I guess I should just get used to it now.
There is a unique feeling of content you can only get from simple pleasures. As I stand outside of an unfinished barn, with a plastic cup of Society and Solitude #4 (Imperial IPA), surrounded by dirt roads, I have that precise feeling. It comes from the fact that the dirt road I took to get here had so many horizontal bumps in a row that I could feel the vibrations run through my chest. It also comes from knowing that any wrong turn would have lead to pulling over and asking a stranger for directions because a smart phone can’t save you in Greensboro, Vermont. Mostly, it comes from knowing that my current buzz is the result of an IPA brewed right behind me.
This is reason #1 why I loved visiting Vermont and why I now love living here. In Vermont, the simplest of pleasures are usually the result of a few small adventures. It is impossible to have an uneventful weekend in Vermont. The brewery of choice for us this weekend was Hill Farmstead Brewery which is located in the Northeast Kingdom. It is almost impossible not to get lost on your way since not only is there no phone service to call for directions, but you can only also only get there via dirt roads. Even once you pull in, you will still feel lost as the brewery is nothing but a big barn. There is no brewpub or fancy bar but if you are looking for a good, strong IPA, then you’ve come to the right place.
On our way home, we stopped at a covered bridge that I pass daily on the way to work. I love covered bridges and what they mean to Vermont, so I can’t believe I have never stopped before. This covered bridge, in Wolcott, VT, was the last running railroad covered bridge. I immediately felt the size and strength of the bridge, which although completely made out of wood, would have withstood the power of a locomotive day in and day out. I couldn’t help but feel that simple pleasure again, as I through a stick to Pup in the pristine clear water underneath it.