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RAMBLINGS OF A TRAVELER in NEW ENGLAND: #1 The Colors of Woodstock

So let’s be a little silly and ramble a bit about New England in the fall. What could I possibly write about the New England fall that hasn’t already been written? How can a Rambling Traveler from the wind-swept-treeless plains of Montana possibly know anything about the fall leaves a falling in New England? Here’s the deal, New England fall is – well there are no more adjectives left in the English language to describe New England fall. O.K. then, let’s ramble about a special little town in Vermont in October, but first ………….

My first introduction to Vermont was through T.V. by watching reruns of the Newhart Show. Newhart was a goofy sitcom that ran from 1982-1990. The show was about a couple that left New York City and ended up buying the run down Stratford Inn somewhere in Vermont. And if I remember nothing else about the show how could I forget the two brothers named Darrel and Darrel? Luckily this was ONLY my first introduction to Vermont.

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My second introduction to Vermont came during the very recent past in the form of colors – more specifically fall colors.

The first color literally attacked me while I was driving in the Vermont countryside. I have no idea what color it was. I, of course, had heard of the falls colors in Vermont, but I really didn’t know what to expect. I was in for the blinding reality of what is meant by the phrase, “Stunning enough to blind you.” There were colors and color blends that have NO names. The Vermont countryside in the fall didn’t even look real. The countryside looked like someone just made it all up a few centuries ago. And when I saw the Vermont fall colors for the first time, I was in denial. I was convinced I was dreaming. It was surreal and looked like a National Geographic photo – too good and too perfect to be real or true. O.K. You get it; I liked the colors as I drove along the narrow two-lane roads.

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Vermont is a rolling-hill-type place and also very rural. Vermont actually has some hills high enough to have skiing going on there after the snow comes, but that’s a different blog.

The two-lane roads in a lot of locations amble through the incredible trees, cutting the most narrow of narrow paths through the groves of purest color.

The farms and rural builds were silent – echoing only the purity of stillness – almost seeming ghostlike except for the happy color. The bright color of falling leaves fit perfectly against the white or red barns and rural farmhouses. Each farm I passed that day was kept in immaculate condition further proof to me that the folks that live in Vermont also love Vermont.

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Around every bend and turn in the road brought more and loader “Ahs” and “Wows” from somewhere deep down in me!

The next color I came upon was as I entered the little town named, “Woodstock.” Woodstock Village Vermont is not to be mistaken for the Woodstock NY.

Woodstock NY is where the hippies and others came together in 1969 to listen to their music of the times and inhale whatever was on hand for a few fine days from August 15-19. Just making sure we are all on the same rambling page here.

The best time of the year to visit Woodstock Village Vermont is probably anytime, but Woodstock in the fall is seems the right time of the year to visit.

Woodstock village is quaint little place that is the very definition of charming with a population in 2011 of 900 lucky folks.The day I drove into to town, Woodstock’s main street was disturbed only by the tourists from all over the world, (I was neither the only or the first tourist to discover Woodstock, Vermont). The frantically clicking cameras seemed to be trying to capture the color before it could fade away. These cameras attached to tourists were heard clicking and snapping away up and down main street. I will admit, pictures do a good job of spurring the memory, but pictures could never do Woodstock, Vermont or the landscape just outside of town the justice it deserves.

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The Woodstock Village Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. It includes the village center and additional properties along the Ottauquechee River. The district covers an area of 2,750 acres encompassing 95 buildings, sites, and structures that contribute to the historical significance of the area. The town was named after Woodstock in Oxfordshire, England. The town was first settled in 1768 by James Sanderson and his family, and finally became an incorporated town in 1837 (Wikipedia).

The Rockefellers have had an enormous impact on the overall character of the town as it exists today. They helped preserve the 18th and 19th century architecture and the rural feel. They built the Woodstock Inn, a center point for the town. Tourist lodging in Woodstock Village center is not called hotel or motel, its called Inn, and there are several each one more beautiful than the next.

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And another: The Kedron Valley Inn. Don’t either of these look like a little too cozy?

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The center of the district is an elliptical village green located at the junction of U.S. Route 4 and Vermont Route 106. Around the green and along the main road following the river are a number of residential, commercial, and public buildings showcasing architectural development from the late 18th to late 19th centuries.

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The color of Main Street is filled with the sights, sounds, and smells of what the fall season really should be. The town is made up with interesting little shops and restaurants that only ended when the visitor became weary. There is a knitting shop, an old town bakery, a bookshop, a maple syrup shop, a candle shop, a hometown hardware store to name a few. But what there ISN’T is what Woodstock is all about. There is NOT a McDonald’s or a big box store or any power lines. Laurance and Mary French Rockefeller also had the village’s power lines buried underground (I was wondering where the power lines where). To protect their ridgeline views, the town adopted an ordinance creating a Scenic Ridgeline District in order to protect the aesthetics and the views of the town (Wikipedia). Woodstock felt to me like taking a leap back in time to a quieter place for just a little while, and it has obviously felt like that to many, many other people through the ages that wanted to preserve it just the way it was and is.

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There are many colors of downtown Woodstock, but in my mind one of the colors is the reds and blacks and plaids of flannel. Now I am not talking about the flannel shirts or lounge pants you can buy from an online catalog. I am talking about the most lush, most thick, most cozy flannel shirt or lounge pants or robe you can possibly put your body into. It’s a little cool outside in the fall in Woodstock – there’s a crispness in the air as Vermont prepares for snow. Woodstock is the perfect place for the visitor to nestle down in an oversized lobby chair next to a rustic wood burning fireplace with a cup of steaming spiced apple cider opening a really good novel and donning your wonderful heavy-duty snuggly flannels you just bought in that little flannel store that sells nothing else but flannels in Woodstock Vermont. I don’t think Woodstock invented flannel nor do I even think flannels were invented in Vermont, but it’s my opinion that Woodstock should get the credit for it. Dreaming of a place like lobby of an Inn in Woodstock in the below picture with my flannels on.

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As I awoke from my short nap and very little novel reading I decide to go outside and discover yet another color of Woodstock. When I first heard of the covered bridges in Vermont left over from bygone days, I didn’t think that would be such a BIG DEAL. And then I saw the Woodstock covered bridge. Let me tell you right now, seeing the famous covered bridge in Woodstock is A BIG DEAL – IT DOESN’T GET MUCH BIGGER. Weddings happen on this bridge and tourists file across the bridge, below the Ottauquechee River and the picturesque Woodstock residential areas.

 

Inside and looking through the Woodstock covered bridge reminds me of crossing into a spectacular autumn wonderland of sorts.

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Another color of Woodstock is the General Store. The General Store houses such fall delights as pumpkins, peppermint, jams and jellies, real maple syrup, dried fruits and nuts, Holiday decorations, spiced apple cider, and real aroma-filling cinnamon to name just a few seasonal things. A visit to Woodstock is a visit to the General Store – it goes hand and hand. To walk into the general store is to inhale the smells of fall dreams. Now, I’ve tasted all the fall delights I mentioned above before coming to Woodstock Village. I have even inhaled the smell of fall, but never in Woodstock Village. There is something to be said about having the correct environment to make it all seem a little more than real.

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A color of Woodstock is to merely notice the many historical houses and buildings, each with a story, each with its own secret if one had the time to research.

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And one more true picturesque delight to see.

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And the last color of fall I will ramble about is what should be the poster kitty of the fall. I know jet-black cats have long occupied the Halloween Cat stage, but before Halloween, the fall should be devoted to a special kind of kitty. She looks her best in October and this fact makes her ready for the challenge. She blends in with all the autumn colors I mentioned including flannel, and wood burning fireplaces, and turning leaves. She is the cat of cats that was designed a little haphazardly and specifically for the fall. She is called a Tortoiseshell cat and her colors are mixed up of black and orange (no white because that would make her a calico). She’s my cat, and I really don’t know what that has to do with Woodstock Village or Vermont or even New England, but have a great fall and autumn  experience wherever you maybe.

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Just imagine her sitting by a big, plump bright orange pumpkin before she lunges for a mouse.

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Til Next Time,

PSiddy

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