It was chockablock with Vermont themed bric-a-brac. One wall was everything moose. Moose socks, a “Moose and Canoe Coaster Set,” a moose-designed wooden toilet seat lid, moose antler hats, moose kitchen spatulas and a “Vermont Moose Lucky Lottery Scratcher.” I opted for the $14.99 “Moose on Skis” Christmas ornament. Why? I have no idea.
All I really wanted was a plaid winter hat that had flaps that came down over my ears. I’ve wanted one of these things since I was a kid. You’ll remember this was the kind of hat that Ralphie and his friends wore in the movie “A Christmas Story.” I finally found one. This hat promised that it “will stay in place even in gusty conditions.”
I put it on, pulled the flaps down tightly over my ears and snapped the chin strap under my ballooning face. I came around the corner and said to my wife, “What do you think, Honey?” She rolled her eyes as she choked on her maple-flavored, moose-shaped hard candy. No words were spoken. I knew I was going to have to wait a while before my dream of owning one of these childhood memories ever happened. As I unsnapped the hat and replaced it, I noticed the price. $129. Gulp.
For all of its odd quirks, Vermont is a still a favorite place for us, and we love it. We even honeymooned there when we got married years ago. Folks are cheerful and eager to help. Everyone speaks to everyone. Ask a stranger for directions and you will wind up making a new friend. The food is no-nonsense and hearty to a fault. The villages are just what you’d expect of them: small burgs huddled around green squares centered with a granite monument featuring a Revolutionary War soldier, anchored by a cloud-piercing, white-spired country church. The streams are cold and clear. Ancient covered bridges proliferate. The mountains are rugged and proud. It really is like that. Charming.