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Must Do UVM

by Claire Ankuda '06, Carly Baldwin '05, Marnie Owen '02, Tom Slayton '63,
Thomas Weaver, Bekah Zietz '04

It takes roughly 120 credit hours to earn your bachelor's degree from the University of Vermont. That comes first, of course, but with some judicious time management we believe there are a few other bits of college and local life that students can and should sample before walking across the stage to snag that diploma.
Our survey of the possibilities -

1 Skate at Gutterson at noon one day when you're the only one on the ice. Narrate à la Bill Murray in Caddyshack: “A Cinderella story…”

2 Make up your own Vermont proverb, speak it as if it were God's truth.

3 Smuggle a lawn chair into the UVM Greenhouse on a February day.

4 Donate a vintage Pez dispenser to the Williams Hall Museum of Kitsch Art.

photo by Paul Boisvert

5 Hike Camel's Hump the hard way.
Bamforth Ridge is a long, rocky spine that buttresses Camel's Hump's north flank. Today, I'm climbing it along a trail built about 70 years ago by Professor Will Monroe, an eccentric genius of trail design who lived at the foot of the mountain. Like most of Monroe's trails, Bamforth Ridge is sublimely beautiful, a masterpiece of the trail-builder's art. It is also sublimely difficult, connecting scenic spots along the ridge-top by winding over every rocky eminence in sight. After about four miles of this, the trail climbs the northeast flank of Camel's Hump. Straight up. This is the hard way to take on Vermont's wildest and most beautiful mountain. Probably for that reason, it's also one of least-traveled trails on the peak. I enjoy hiking by myself sometimes - setting my own pace without worrying about others, enjoying the sights and sounds of the woods without the need for conversation. Add solitude to Bamforth's attractions.

I leave the river and follow the winding trail upward through fallen leaves to the bare backbone of the ridge. A cold breeze cools the quick sweat I've broken, while above me the Hump rises dark and powerful. It plays hide and seek as I clamber over rocks and wind through stands of stunted evergreens. Ravens surf on the wind; a flock of Canada geese goes honking overhead, so close I can hear the sound of their wings. Panting, heart racing, I finally near the summit after almost four hours of climbing. The big, familiar view falls away in all directions. The wooded ridges roll westward toward the lake, and Mansfield stands far off to the north. About 20 hikers are on top, sitting, standing, not talking much as they soak up the sunlight and the huge distances. The summit is a reward, but not the only reward. As I trudge down through the glowing, late-afternoon forest, I thank Will Monroe for his crazy, inspired trail-building and Joseph Battell, who more than 100 years ago bought this mountain and gave it to the people of Vermont. Once again, I have had the privilege of spending a footloose day alone, soaking up wildness and exploring the mysteries of a great northern mountain.
-Tom Slayton '63

6 Form a band.

7 Dig in your pocket for the buck-fifty and buy a dog from the Hot Dog Lady on Church Street.

8 Go to North Beach off-season and jump in Lake Champlain when it hurts.

9 Out of the dorm and into the forest. Take a morning walk at Centennial Woods.

10 Claw your way to the top of the fitness center climbing wall.

photo by Glenn Russell

11 Go to a town meeting in Vermont.
We had hardly sat down for our first session of Frank Bryan's “Vermont Politics” course when he informed us that if we had plans for the first Tuesday in March, we might as well drop the class now. “For those of you from New Jersey,” he quipped, “the first Tuesday in March is Vermont Town Meeting Day.”

To this lifelong Vermonter, it seemed like a dry assignment - attend a town meeting and write a paper about the experience. I imagined a day that was all about budgets. I was a liberal arts student, after all, not a business student. To me, budgets equaled boring.

Town Meeting Day 2000 took me back to my hometown, Strafford. The town's meeting hall is classic New England, part of what drew Charles Kuralt to our “storybook” town meeting in the eighties. Strafford's newest citizens (known, usually affectionately, as “flatlanders”) seemed to take great pleasure in attending town meeting in a hall that they'd seen featured on countless magazine covers…until they realized that it has no plumbing. A trip to the restroom either required friends in high places, or a spirit fearless enough to brave the privy (affectionately known as the “two-holer”). Classic indeed.

While many of my fellow students wholly enjoyed the sparring that ensued from contentious agenda items in their chosen towns, every vote was unanimous that year in Strafford. Not a single “nay” was uttered all day. Yet for me, the day (and fortunately the budget) passed quickly and without a lackluster moment. As a registered voter in Strafford, it was my first opportunity to act as a citizen legislator. It mattered little that there wasn't anything on this particular docket that called for dissent. It was about the opportunity for support or opposition of each measure. It was about real democracy, in which every citizen has the tangible ability to affect change. That day back at home turned out to be one of my most memorable days away at college.
-Marnie Owen '02

12 Become a connoisseur of le donut cider.

13 Learn how to spot a Morgan Horse.
The head is expressive with large, prominent eyes, well-rounded jowls and large nostrils. A slightly dished face is a good thing if you happen to be a Morgan.

Morgan stallions should project strength and masculinity with substantial musculature and crested neck.
Morgan mares should display refinement and femininity. (Sorry, horses are just old-fashioned that way.)

The Morgan should display an upright posture with the neck coming vertically out of a well-angulated shoulder.

The body should be compact with a short back, close coupling (the space between the point of the hip and the last rib), and symmetrical proportions.

The Morgan's gait is trappy (rapid and animated) with a quick-cadenced and balanced trot.

Thanks to Steve Davis '72, director of UVM's Morgan Horse Farm, for the horse-spotting tips. Pay a visit to the farm in Weybridge to practice your new skills. Thanks also to UVM Special Collections for this illustration from Morgan Horses by D.C. Linsley, 1856.

14 Convince yourself that you saw a Catamount crossing the road.

15 Hold forth just a little too long on open mike night at Living/Learning.

16 Be the first one to stand up and start a UVM cheer at a basketball game.

17 Go to Montreal for the day & speak French, no matter how poorly, in all situations
18 Give a Williams Hall gargoyle a secret pet name - Spanky, Pete, Stevie-O, whatever seems appropriate.

photo by Sally McCay

19 Be a Big Buddy to a Burlington kid.
On a January afternoon, taking a pause from singing loudly above the heat blasting through my Subaru, Ashley, my 9-year-old little buddy, and I discuss our relationship. In specific, what exactly it is that we do.

“Remember the hip-hop dance class we did together?” I reminisce.

Ashley instantly fills the entire back seat with hula-like hand motions.

“Yeah, yeah, you looked so funny. You were so… confused.

Like, 'First I do this… and then I do… what?'” In the rearview mirror, I watch as Ashley's eyebrows come together in a picture of my state of being in that rather disastrous dance class. “Yeah, you were… sorta bad,” she adds, dissolving in laughter at the memories of me, the dunce of hip-hop dance class in a room of 8-year-olds.

“Okay,” I say, changing the subject as quickly as her mirth will let me. “What about your favorite thing we've done together?”

“North Beach.” Ashley answers quickly, and her answer matches mine exactly. That week we went adventuring on a school afternoon, the first Thursday that I was back at college. I had just returned from strict Chinese immersion at language school, and our only correspondence for the past nine weeks had been colorful drawings. We walked the shore together with me shouting out words from her spelling list over the sound of the wind and the waves. As Ashley spelled them back we worked through her flashcards as if we were two sinking ships in Burlington Bay, desperately calling out S.O.S.

“Weight!” I yelled, melodramatic desperation in my voice.

“W…E…I…G…H…T!!” She called back, kicking up water and sand with each letter.

A branch of the UVM Volunteers in Action, the Big Buddies program often describes its mission in altruistic terms. There's truth in that, of course, but as Ashley becomes more and more a part of my life I realize just how far that description falls short. Our relationship is not an act of charity, but a sharing between friends of days and moods and silly stories and spelling words.
-Claire Ankuda '06

20 Hit every coffeehouse downtown, then sprint to the top of College Street. Repeat.

21 Learn to discriminate between maple syrup grades by smell.

22 Assemble an intramural sports squad. Devote more time to brainstorming a ribald team name than practicing.

23 Sit at the counter at Handy's Lunch and debate Yankees vs. Red Sox with Earl.

24 Consider getting a puppy your senior year, then reconsider.

25 Keep warm, stay cool.
Monday morning. 8 degrees outside and a wind chill factor at minus 10? Don't fret. While the winter blahs may get to you, cold weather does present another UVM pastime - the intriguing challenge of dressing warmly while still looking cool. It's a dilemma every UVM student encounters.

Yes, you can dress for sub-zero weather without compromising your fashion integrity. Reconsider if you think winter means faceless, over-bundled blobs trudging to class. Here at groovy UV, how one dresses is just as significant as saving the rainforests or eating gravy fries.

First, layering is key. To avoid looking like a giant marshmallow, I suggest starting small and then adding as the temperature drops. 50 degrees is a fleece. 35 means a heavier jacket, and 20 is ski gear. Temps in the teens require scarves, mittens, and hats. Anything below that means an individualized space heater latched to your book bag with a rock-climbing carabiner clip. Note: it may be hard to preserve any remaining vanity while wearing a space heater. Persevere.

The fashionable Catamount learns to sniff out opportunities, chances to blend trendy Manhattan with practical Vermont style. Think about complementing that Carhartt jacket with a Burberry scarf. Embrace a gift such as the inexplicable hipness of the inexplicably hideous Ugg (ugh) boot. Warm, comfortable, good tread, able to stand up to seven feet of snow, and, for reasons beyond me, trendy. What's not to love?

Yes, it's not always easy to balance comfort and style in Burlington, but where is the challenge, where is the fun in dressing well at 72 degrees?
-Carly Baldwin '05

26 DJ the graveyard shift at WRUV.
A little known fact from college radio history is that Trey Anastasio - yes, he of the defunct Burlington jam band Phish - once did duty in the basement of Billings as a WRUV DJ. As if that is not reason enough to surrender oneself to becoming a complete music snob (aka DJ), then perhaps the ritual of the graveyard shift will do it for you. Two a.m. to four a.m., four to six, hell, maybe even a 6 to 9 on a Sunday morning if you are lucky. One night a week for half a semester you are playing music to your friends, who stay up for the first 20 minutes of your show to hear you on the air and obnoxiously request music you can't play, such as Britney Spears; insomniacs who have nothing better to do with their time than listen to you fumble in the wee, small hours; and inmates at the county jail who sometimes call in and thank you for playing good music.

As you can see, being an 'RUV DJ is more than mere good looks and a suave radio voice, it is about connecting and reconnecting people to some high-quality music that you would not normally hear on commercial radio, whether it be indie rock, dancehall, hip-hop, folk, or puke pop. Besides, sitting behind the mike at WRUV means greater opportunity to procrastinate on your schoolwork. Why deprive yourself of that?

-Bekah Zietz '04

27 Walk into a used bookstore with $1 and an open mind.

28 Find one work of art at the Fleming Museum that you really, really like and stare at it a really, really long time.

29 Take a 3-hour tour on the Spirit of Ethan Allen & make Gilligan's Island jokes.

30 Pray, meditate, sit in Ira Allen Chapel alone.