The University of Vermont and our home state share a founding year. 1791: consider it chiseled in Barre granite. Throughout the ensuing 229 years, the landscape, people, culture, and singular soul of the Green Mountain State have enriched the experience of UVM students in ways that are distinct, yet maybe beyond definition. But, hey, let’s have a go: our collective ode, in words and pictures, to what makes Vermont Vermont.
Granite Quarry, Barre
WALKING THE RIDGELINES
My daughter was fourteen when we walked north on the Long Trail for thirteen days. Eleven were rainy. We walked and talked, about nothing and everything. We assigned names to each frog and snake we encountered. When we reached The Inn at the Long Trail in Sherburne Pass on night seven, coming down off the misty mountain to a crackling fire, we felt like hobbits reaching Rivendell. On the last day, we raced a thunderstorm over Camel’s Hump, then skidded four thousand feet downhill, drenched, to where Mother and Brother collected us along the Winooski. The kids are grown now and far away, but Vermont is in their bones. The Long Trail, draped across the highest ridges of home, is in their souls.
Ben Rose G’90, Past executive director of the Green Mountain Club, current section chief at the Vermont Division of Emergency Management
Tunbridge World’s Fair
LABYRINTHS OF MAIZE
With miles and miles of backwoods, Vermont hosts some of the country’s premiere places to wander, but the state’s many autumn corn mazes raise meandering to an art form. Aerial views of Danville’s grand diva, the Great Vermont Corn Maze, reveals the letters, mythic beasts, mascots, and puzzle pieces carved by twenty-four acres of trails through ten-foot corn. Inside the maze, the green-gold corridors stretch endlessly, populated by tribes of dazed visitors, all looking for a way out, and finding, at the center, incredible views of the hills around. You know you belong here if you can’t wait to come back next year and get lost again.
Maria Hummel ’94, Author of Still Lives, her third novel, published in 2018, UVM assistant professor of English
Sugaring season, Fairfield; Ray Allen ’59, owner of the multi-generational Allenholm Farm in South Hero, founded by his ancestors in 1870
LANDSCAPE AT WORK
Vermont is known for its pastoral landscape, that mixture of the works of nature and the works of man that gives us a harmonious blend of open fields and working farms, compact villages and small cities. Our signature landscape is beautiful, but we need to remember that it was created and is supported today by a working land-based economy: farming and forestry. We must help our struggling farms and forest operations survive and prosper. Because if we lose our land-based economy and culture, we risk losing not only the landscape it produced, but also part of our identity.
Tom Slayton ’63, Vermont Public Radio commentator and editor emeritus of Vermont Life
ROUTE 108, Jeffersonville
New Farms for New Americans, Intervale, Burlington (Sally McCay photograph); Currier’s Quality Market, Glover
The colors of Vermont are bountiful and bright: amber syrup, golden eagles, light-speckled waters. Crimson barns and startling sunsets over green mountains. Blaze orange autumns and hunting vests, icy blue winters and shimmering whiteness. Ahhh yes, the whiteness. The whitest, they say. Forgetting the yellows of Abenaki sunflowers developed over millennia. Shards of broken gravestones in black burying grounds. Reds of Roma tomatoes in Italian gardens. Browns of Lebanese men cutting ice and of Hispanic dairy farmers. Greens of Burundi eggplants cultivated by women in brightly colored scarves. Scarlet seeds of Vietnamese bitter melons. Elaborate designs of vibrant dashikis. Bold and multi-layered. They are Vermont too.
Elise Guyette ’71 G’82’92’07, Author of Discovering Black Vermont: African American Farmers in Hinesburgh, 1790-1890
Warren Falls, Mad River; Perry Hill Trails, Waterbury
The Kingdom Trails snake over the sandy soil of East Burke, mile after mile of mountain biking rapture. Though I love the twist and swoop of the single-track (particularly that place where you squeeze between a couple of pines and into the clear at the bottom of Coronary Bypass), I feel a similar joy when we drive into the crowded parking lot and pull the bikes down off the roof rack, surrounded by cars with Quebec plates and the burble of Quebecois French. Shared passion with our neighbors to the north—gnarly and worldly in one.
Thomas Weaver, Editor, Vermont Quarterly
Bread and Puppet Theater, Glover
Deer Season, Stannard Mountain; Hubbardton
IN THE SAWMILL
Tucked into the mountains of Fletcher is LSF Forest Products, a small, custom-pine-and-hemlock sawmill. I work there when the legislature is not in session. I love the smell of freshly sawn wood, the way the boards move differently on ninety-degree days versus on five-degree winter mornings, the delicacy with which heavy equipment can sort a pile of half-ton logs. The mill supports independent loggers, who cut on local woodlots. The mill sells to local timber framers, who create employment and sustainably-sourced homes. In a working landscape, two concepts are united: forest conservation and economic opportunity.
Lucy Rogers ’18, Vermont State Representative, Lamoille-3
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park, Woodstock
There is no other here, no one to fear. We cast our ballots differently in November, but the plow guy clears my driveway just as pristinely as my neighbor’s; and if you don’t get a permit for your burn, you better be sure to keep it low. Town Meeting Day is sacred as first snowfall—a ritual still remarkably untarnished by the fires that burn outside this state. We debate zoning and dog parks, then break for cider. It’s long and tedious and radically, defiantly decent. The faces in the room are changing for the better. Almost no one speaks Quebecois anymore, but a few speak Spanish, Vietnamese, and Somali now. Small miracles of kindness abound.
Meg Little Reilly ’01, Author of The Misfortunes of Family, her third novel, published in February
Town Meeting Day, Waterville (Glenn Russell photograph); Main Street, Bristol
OUR SUPER POWER
Snowboarding was born when Vermonters Jake and Donna Carpenter joined proprietary design to rebellious attitude to create Burton, then convinced skeptical ski area operators to allow snowboarders to use lifts and trails. Recently, two enterprising Vermont women, Sascha Mayer ’93 and Christine Dodson, joined design ethos with lactating activism to create the Mamava lactation suite, then promoted the subsequent installation of Mamava units at more than one thousand locations across the country, creating a new mom movement. Stellar design coupled with activism and community engagement are the Vermont entrepreneurial super power. Where would Ben and Jerry be with no dough boy?
Cairn Cross, Co-founder of Fresh Tracks Capital and part-time lecturer in the Grossman School of Business
Alchemist Brewery, Stowe; Bolton Valley
Last night my daughter and I took a walk on the dirt road where her mother and I live. Snow was falling. Deer tracks abounded, along with those of smaller animals, and in one place we came upon the tracks of a bear—so fresh we could see the imprint of its claws. The sight was remarkable enough for my daughter to take out her phone and snap a picture but it didn’t alter our conversation or our stride. I love having large wild animals for my neighbors. I love thinking of their private lives in the nearby woods.
Garret Keizer G’78, A 2006 Guggenheim Fellow and author of nine books, the latest: The World Pushes Back, a volume of poetry.
Little River State Park, Waterbury