“Why do you ask about that flag?”
“I don’t know. We have a recent interest in flags from places we have been to. Neither of us have ever seen that flag,” I respond. I’m fidgeting as I wonder exactly what I may have gotten myself into by asking a simple question about a brightly colored (red, white, blue) flag with eight pointed stars that looks as similar to “the” American flag as it does different.
“You like flags, do you? Do you know what a flag canton is?”
“Well you have a lot to learn about vexillology,” Albert replies as he begins to relay his thoughts on the the history of American flags.
Albert tells us about his trip to D.C. to represent the North Eastern states in a vexillology conference that focused on creating a law to make it illegal to burn an American flag. However, he was more interested in defining what is and isn’t an American flag and why we would want to create more laws around how we treat the flag. His voice rings in pure excitement as he mentions that the trip ended when he was kicked out.
“Now you can say you met someone who was kicked out of a national vexillology conference.”
A giant block of cheese divides the two of us and the smell of cheddar fills the store. Anthony and I end up listening to Albert’s history on flags for close to a half hour before we make a $25 offer on the flag. We watch as Albert slowly climbs on top of an old wooden chair to unpin the flag from the ceiling. He is excited to sell this flag so that he can finally replace it with a more popular Vermont flag.
Albert and his hometown of Wilmington, Vermont ended up being the highlight of my weekend to southern Vermont. Our route started at the Waterbury exist on 89S down to the floating bridge in Brookfield via the Northfield exit. I wasn’t very impressed with the floating bridge which is no longer used by cars and had begun to mold where the water sits on top. Our next stop was at our favorite Irish pub which resides in Killington, VT called McGrath’s. The pub is part of the Inn at Long Trail which sits right off of Vermont’s Long Trail. We had a couple of Guinesses before making it to our final destination of Bennington.
Bennington has a lot to offer in terms of history. The Battle of Bennington took place during the American Revolutionary War and the Bennington Battle monument is the tallest structure in Vermont. The battle even has its own American flag. However, I was surprised by the lack of character Bennington seemed to have. It seemed somewhat lost when compared to my favorite towns of Vermont and we ended up spending most of our time down by the river enjoying the weather and the clear, warm water. We did make a stop to Madison’s Brewpub to give the local brews a try. The beer was great, but once again, the bar was lacking in atmosphere and we didn’t end up spending much time there.
Sunday is when we mosied around much smaller towns on our way back home. We stopped in West Dummerston to see the covered bridge. I was impressed with how long the bridge was and how many locals claimed the spot as their weekend beach. We also stepped through time when we stopped in Grafton where there are a few, original buildings (post office, inn) and the Grafton cheese company. However, Wilmington won for the most character and most to do. This quirky small town had wonderful little shops and eateries sprinkled along the river. It was one of the many southern towns that was horribly hit by Hurricane Irene which can still be detected.
Before returning home, we pulled into one of our favorite diners in Vermont, the Wayside. After a Vermont-centric weekend, I was craving a slice of maple cream pie. I thought that was the perfect ending, however, a half hour later, we passed an outdoor concert that just happened to have a performer from one of our favorite folk bands. We were able to catch the last four songs of Brittany Haas before finally considering the weekend over.