Vermont Vacation (Long)
Posted on Jun 27, 2013 by
Les and I are just back from a wonderful one week vacation in Vermont. Our cousins have a vacation home in Marlboro, home of The Marlboro Music Festival, a renowned summer chamber music festival held on the campus of Marlboro College. Usually, Judy and Richard visit us here in Toronto for family celebrations, but now it was our turn to visit them.
Richard had been spending time in Marlboro, Vermont since the 60s. His uncle, a musician who had a home in Marlboro, and was very involved with the festival, had been the original reason for their first visits to the area.
Marlboro really can`t be considered a town or even a village - perhaps hamlet describes it best. There`s a post office, church, and not much else besides the college campus which transforms itself into a music festival. We attended two wonderful concerts there. One was a concert open to the public, and the other was a free concert, very small and personal, held in the dining hall, for those involved in the festival, and their guests. It was hard to believe that these silent and secluded green hills and valleys were home to such magnificent music.
One afternoon, we drove about 90 minutes to attend a performance at Jacob`s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Mass. This summer dance festival is now in its 77th season. Like the festival at Marlboro, it is rural and rustic, set in the middle of nature. Before the matinee, we sat outdoors on log benches, and watched a dance class set against a magnificent green vista. We had lunch at a casual cafe on the grounds, but you can picnic there, or have elegant al fresco dinners. There are tours, talks, a gift shop, classes, etc. We saw Jason Samuels-Smith, a young American tap dancer with his small group, "Anyone Can Get It". Along with the live three piece jazz group, the tap dancers were terrific, with such high energy and personalities to match. We loved every minute. The Pillow, as it is known, is not far from the better-known Tanglewood Music Festival.
Another day, we drove to Williamstown, Mass. to visit The Clark Museum. This lovely art museum is named after the Clark family from Coates and Clark, the thread and needle company. It`s comprised of their gorgeous old home and a spectacular addition. We really enjoyed their special temporary exhibit with works by Georgia O`Keeffe and Arthur Dove. The more famous O`Keeffe credits Dove for introducing her to modern art. Dove is considered America`s first abstract painter. We bought a combined ticket with another wonderful art museum, just down the road in nearby North Adams, Mass. MASS MoCA is a very avant garde art museum of contemporary art, housed in renovated factory buildings. It`s a magnificent place for modern art. We spent much of our time there viewing Sol Lewitt`s massive graphic wall drawings, which are on display "temporarily" - for the next 25 years! After all this art, we enjoyed sitting down for a music performance, part of the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival, with vibrant music from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Who knew?
But all was not culture. We took a long walk along country roads, shopped and dined by the Connecticut River
In nearby Brattleboro, strolled around the smaller town of Wilmington, helped slash a path down to the stream at the bottom of our cousins` property, poked around ancient cemeteries on leafy green roads, shopped at Olallie Daylily Gardens. where thousands of pastel and brightly coloured daylilies bloomed on a huge farm, reminiscent of Giverny. Judy chose a peach-coloured daylily as her 65th birthday present, and Richard planted it in their daylily garden when we returned home. You can also pick organic blueberries at Olallie`s - with four of us picking, it didn`t take long to fill our container. We also drove to the quaint old town of Newfane with its beautiful courthouse which we were able to visit, and its lovely inns, among them The Four Columns Inn 800-787-6633.
We drove to the pretty village of Weston to see The Vermont Country Store and to shop for Lightfoot`s Pine Soap, which "smells like a Vermont Forest". The Vermont Country Store carries all kinds of old-fashioned and hard to find candies, cosmetics, clothing, etc. Some of the merchandise really made us laugh. Afterwards, we strolled around the town. Wished there had been time to take in a performance at their summer theatre.
We also visited Burdick`s Chocolates in Walpole, New Hampshire and bought delicous chocolate covered dried fruit, and then had a long, elegant lunch at their cafe, before strolling around the pre-revolutionary town. We even spotted Ken Burns, the documentary film maker, a local resident of the town. We then drove to the town of Keene so that these Canadians could visit their first Target Store ever.
We really enjoyed Dot`s Restaurant in Wilmington, Vermont, a few miles down the road from Marlboro. It`s an old fashioned diner with a killer chili that includes whole jalapeno peppers and is topped with gooey Vermont cheese. They recently installed an ice cream window too.
We couldn`t come home without some real Vermont maple syrup, if only to compare it to our own Canadian syrup. Judy and Richard took us to their friends` farm and B and B -
Patty and Bill not only sell maple syrup, but they make it in their own sugar house, right on the farm. Their B and B is popular with Marlboro Festival visitors, for "leaf peeping" in the fall, and for downhill skiing in the winter. It`s homey and affordable and our cousins highly recommend staying there.
We`d been to other parts of Vermont before, but this small area of southern Vermont was completely new to us. With its old white homes and churches, pretty farms, green hills and valleys and exquisite views, it was a charming place to visit. It was very enjoyable to combine an art, music, dance and nature filled vacation with a reunion with our American cousins in this beautiful New England state.
There was an incredible amount of variety in our week. If you like chamber music, the Marlboro Festival is world famous. You could combine Tanglewood as well as Jacob`s Pillow Dance Festival, and the art museums we went to, all in nearby Massachusetts. You could probably even find more to do. Even if you don`t take advantage of any of these, the scenery, charming towns, back roads antiquing, hiking, and tiny cemeteries would make for a wonderful trip.