Never one to turn down a trip to Vermont, we found ourselves piling into Adam’s truck this weekend and heading north. I’ve been traveling to the area where Adam grew up for over twenty years and it never fails that I have no idea how to get there once we’re off the highway, nor how to find my way back if needed. I sort of pride myself on having a decent sense of direction so I’d like to believe this has more to do with the wild location of his boyhood home than my inability to pay attention. Also to my defense, I’m pretty sure there are about 132 different routes one could take to get to the ridge where his family lives. Someday though, I’m going to really try and learn the ropes of traveling there. Especially by way of the route we took this weekend, that was a lovely approach for sure.
The Northeast Kingdom of Vermont is a place of beauty, one that Adam admittedly took for granted (or rather, just stopped noticing as being anything out of the ordinary) while growing up. It’s funny though, because directly across the street from his home (which sat on several hundred acres of family land) was over 8,000 acres of state forest. The wilderness was his playground and yet, because it was the everyday backdrop to his upbringing, he never quite realized how unique this was. Being from a generation that grew up without the internet, we all tended to live in our geographic bubbles more so than we do today. In his mind, it was perfectly normal for a boy to throw a few days worth of rations into a bag, grab his fishing pole, hop on his dirt bike, and head deep into the woods (with no cell phone) for a couple of nights under the stars.
At one point we were driving down one of the countless dirt roads and another truck approached. As we got closer, Adam lifted two fingers off the steering wheel as some sort of a waving gesture to the driver in the oncoming truck. The man reciprocated with a two finger wave of his own. For as long as Adam has been taking me to his old stomping grounds, I’ve observed this two-finger-drive-by-wave. Kind of peculiar, though not really worth inquiring about. Anyway, I’m currently reading Ben Hewitt’s soon to be released book, Home Grown (I’ll be writing much more about this book in a week or two... stay tuned!), and the following passage seemed to explain this decades old observation of mine:
“On haying days, Penny mixes thick milk shakes and we drink them on the ride home, the four of us crammed into the cab of our old Chevy. We idle down the gravel road from the hayfield; the loaded wagon pushes us, and I ride the brakes. Oncoming traffic gives us a wide berth, and wisely so. Everyone waves in that two-fingers-off-the-steering-wheel way rural Vermonters wave, as if afraid to commit to even this brief, passing relationship.”
It all makes so much sense now.
Today we are home, but Vermont is not quite done with us so we’re going to head back up at the end of the week. Because I’ll never turn down a chance to go north.