So the other day I was going to meet Noelle for breakfast at Magnolia, and as I got out of the car, I noticed two people feeding the meter next to me. I explained to them that it was Sunday, so the meters were free, and for a minute they just kind of stood there, the guy’s hand in mid-meter-feed. I think he was trying to decide if he should listen to me. Anyway, this got me thinking…about the literacy of being a Burlingtonite.
Of course Burlington has the usual elements of literacy most cities/towns have: knowing the best restaurants (which are often different from the most popular ones), the best bars, coffee houses, etc. But here are a couple things I thought of that really define being a Burlingtonite (Noelle gets some props too for brainstorming):
1) Parking. Knowing when and where to park, particularly when and where you can get FREE parking — as in free meters evenings after 6 and Sundays, free two hours in the garages, and free Saturday mornings in the garage under Kinko’s. Oh, and don’t forget knowing where to park safely during a city parking ban.
2) Hills. This is especially for bikers — NEVER go up Main St. unless you have to; it’s much easier to bike up Pearl St. and then cut across on Prospect to Main. I learned this (the hard way) the first summer I was here.
3) Burton annual summer sale. T-shirts, pants, boots, gear, all kinds of shit for up to 80% off — and some of it doesn’t even say Burton anywhere noticeable on it, for those of you who like to pretend you’re too cool to wear Burton stuff.
4) Lesser known parks and bike trails. Knowing about these is especially useful if you love to bike or hang out outdoors in the summer (and who wouldn’t around here?) but do not love crowds.
5) Major Opposites (or competing forces): Shaw’s vs. City Market; Muddy Waters vs. Uncommon Grounds; 7 Days vs. Burlington Free Press; Higher Ground vs. The Flynn; Nectar’s vs. Red Square; Merrill’s Roxy vs. Majestic 10; 3 Needs vs. OP; Leonardo’s vs. Mr. Mike’s or Junior’s; Ski Rack vs. North Star Sports…
6) Neighborhoods: Old North End, New North End, The Hill, Downtown, Waterfront, South End. Yes, every city/town has these little neighborhoods, but I think for the size of BTV, I’m surprised by how much character each different neighborhood has.
7) BTV — see above. The abbreviation for Burlington, Vermont — I’m guessing this derived from the airport code, which is the same thing.
Some signature things and places: gravy fries (never heard of them until here); Red Rocks; the Causeway; fried dough (again, this was new to me)
9) Causes. If you don’t believe strongly in a cause before you come to BTV, you will soon; and if you don’t, YOU may become someone else’s cause.
10) Buy Local and Be Green. See #9.
Now, this is not meant to be an exhaustive list by any means. And some of these things might not seem that “characteristic” of the town to you. They’re just things I’ve noticed about BTV and I do think many of them are things you wouldn’t know unless you lived here — or maybe you wouldn’t even have an opinion on unless you lived here. They’re also things that, for the most part, people can’t tell you — you have to figure out by experiencing it, or it doesn’t mean the same thing. So you kinda have to live here and let the city “seep” into your system, and then at some point, you just “know” all this stuff. I’ve moved alot, and this experience is similar in any new place you go to. But I truly think Burlington has its own brand of literacy, maybe because people here are more involved in the creation of that literacy. There’s a point to ponder…