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April 22, 2013

Catching a whiff of 'Vermont Vapor'

We just came back from a weekend in Manchester, Vt., and my wife insists that something “magical” happens when you pass the state sign. “I think they spray ‘Vermont Vapor’ out of the sign or something,” she opined, “something that actually changes us.”

I think she’s on to something.

The minute you enter the Green Mountain State, you start to feel different. You have different desires — hankerings for things that you, well, never have hankered for before.

Like aged cheese, wind chimes, plaid hats, hand-hewn lawn ornaments, and maple-flavored everything. And moose.

Vermont is a snow-globe mixture of the best of Thomas Kinkade, Norman Rockwell, The Old Farmer and his Almanac, and Jerry Garcia. I throw Garcia into the mix because there is a decidedly twisted edginess to the whole state that is undeniable.

Our first stop was at an “original” “Ye Olde Tyme Country Store.” (They do that a lot here — add an “e” to old and refer to time as “tyme.”) They also refer to places as barns and shoppes — places that are neither barns nor shoppes. Like The Suspender Barn. Or Maggie’s Peanut Brittle Barn. Or Plunkett’s Down Home Bargain Barn. None of these businesses were in barns, of course. Instead they were all in shops, or shoppes. Oh well, you get the idea.

Although this store looked “original,” I guessed that every little town and hamlet in Vermont has one. They have to have it. It is the state’s currency. It is why we come here. Whether original or fabricated, we don’t care. This is Vermont and we want olde and tyme, darn it. This store had a creaky, old front porch, high-backed rocking chairs and a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag flapping in the breeze.

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