Given that my visit focused on a small pocket of the far south end of the state, I suppose that this post should really be titled “In Which Knitterguy Sees a Small Slice of Vermont”, but I think that’s a bit lengthy.
This all began earlier in the year when I was thinking about things to do to celebrate my 50th birthday. I’m now not sure why I originally thought about visiting Vermont, or how I found the wonderful B&B I stayed at. In any case, this was a great trip for me, and one which I’d be happy to repeat.
So, let’s talk about the B&B, Frog Meadow. Simply put, it’s lovely, and I recommend it highly. When I booked my room, Dave and Scott sent very good directions for how to get there, for which I was very grateful –especially as the GPS tried to take me up a road that Scott later told me wouldn’t have been safe to travel on. Anyway, I traveled up this road (here’s a shot looking down it, and it's as straight as an arrow here)
and got to this intersection.
where I turned left and drove a short bit and saw the house and checked in.
Back to the intersection for a bit. This is the site of the original location of the town of Newfane. Dave explained that in the mid-1800’s, the village was disassembled and moved down the hill to its current location, where it serves as the county seat. Back up on the hill, the historical society posted some markers and a plaque in the 1970s, providing a general gist of the original village layout. (You can click on the sign to enlarge. I think it’s intriguing – though I don’t know why – that they’ve found and marked the location of the whipping post.) Frog Meadow is – I think – at approximately the location of the Phipps House, in lower left quadrant.
If you walk around the intersection, you can see the numbered markers corresponding to the info on the plaque.
Back to Frog Meadow. I took few pictures, because the B&B’s website has them and they accurately represent the grounds and rooms. (Ever had that experience when you make a decision to go somewhere and on arrival, find that the pictures in the brochure and what you’re actually seeing don’t exactly match up?) Dave and Scott opened their home as a B&B a couple of years ago when Dave’s job came to an end. He has also trained as a massage therapist, so in addition to providing lodging and weekend events, he has a studio on-site and can provide treatments.
Also on the grounds are apple trees, and flower beds that I imagine are gorgeous when in bloom. (I was staying late in the season; the gardens were well over for the year. The colours in the deciduous trees were past prime.) I also really appreciated how quiet it was up there, and at night the stars were fully visible – no light pollution. Great place to stay, clean and tidy, and Scott and Dave are great hosts (Dave always helped me plan my route to where I was traveling), breakfasts were really good. (Dave understands how to cook scrambled eggs.) I slept like a log.
Dave gave me a very good massage: I could feel weeks of job stress falling off my upper back, and ended up with that nice zoned-out feeling that lasted for several days. I think it was the next day, late in the afternoon, that I was sitting on the side patio, thinking that I should be knitting something or reading something, and was instead quite content to smell the fallen leaves, listen to the birds, and watch the antics of the chipmunks racing across the patio and up and down trees, and to notice the changing colours in the landscape as the sun moved across the sky. It was really a great time…to just be in a lovely location, hosted by 2 handsome personable guys, and to not have to do anything other than show up for breakfast. (In retrospect, I should have flipped my trip and gone to Frog Meadow first, then Rhinebeck.)
Now if you go to the Frog Meadow website, you will see that this is really a great place for people who are physically active…you know, jocky, sporty types. Mountain bikers, cross country skiers, people who want to downhill ski at a nearby ski resort. I am none of those and I was somewhat concerned that I wouldn’t “fit”. Maybe things would be different if there were more guests (I was the only guest during my time there), but in all honesty I felt very comfortable, and I fully expect to return.
Thank you, Scott and Dave. You and your home touched me and influenced me in ways you wouldn’t imagine.
Sadelle, Jenny and I met next day at Green Mountain Spinnery, which I’d wanted to visit for a couple of years. (Green Mountain makes a nice donation of yarn to the Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat.) Margaret kindly gave me a tour of the operations.
I think every knitter and spinner should visit a commercial mill to see how yarn is made; many mills will do tours provided you arrange a mutually convenient time. The operation is a worker-owned collective that sources raw fibers from within the USA (hence no silk in their yarns); there are appropriate patterns for their yarns, including the new book.
Well worth a visit; if you plan to be in there area, call ahead to enquire about a tour. Thank you to Margaret and Tedd for welcoming me and for the tour. I hope I didn’t ask any really dumb questions.
Sadelle, Jenny and I had lunch to the Front Porch Cafe in Putney.
I had a very good Rueben sandwich and when I went back the next day I had turkey with apple and brie on sourdough white, which was very good. Sadelle gave me a short lesson on supported spindle spinning. (You can download her tutorial on the subject from this post on her blog.) Sadelle used to make supported spindles; I was given one years ago, and Sadelle’s face simply lit up with a smile when she saw it.
We spun a bit. (That’s Jenny and Sadelle.)
I met Linda Diak of Grafton Fibers, who cards up batts of Corriedale fibers that are so beautiful you want to just put them in a bowl on the table and look at them. Grafton Fibers also makes excellent and beautiful wooden tools for knitters and spinners –superb knitting needles.
I’d prearranged the visit, as I wanted several batts and Linda kindly processed them while we chatted about life and the yarn biz. Thank you, Linda, for the generosity of your time. (Here’s Linda with Woody, who died the afternoon of my visit. Yes, she has a copy of this image.)
All good things come to an end. On Thursday I drove back through the mountains on Vermont Highway 9, across New York State and into Canada to stay over night with Alan and John.
Idle Musings and Random Thoughts From the Entire Trip
- Maybe it’s just where I was in Vermont, but I saw no grey concrete buildings. No concrete office buildings, no concrete low level apartment buildings, no concrete government offices. No grey concrete buildings. I’m sure they must exist somewhere in Vermont, but I saw none, and it was refreshing to my eye.
- Further, while in Vermont, I saw no big-box retail stores. Maybe it's just where I was in the state, but how refreshing to not see them.
- I am truly blessed with wonderful friends. I have more friends in the USA than in Canada.
- There is a saying that goes “I wish I could be the person my dog thinks I am.” My variation on that is “I wish I could see myself as my friends see me, because I think it would be through a more positive lens.”
- Back in the Spring I saw some yarn and immediately thought it would be perfect to work Nancy Bush's Ene's Scarf from Interweave's "Scarf Style". When preparing for the trip, I pulled the yarn, debated whether to work Ene's Scarf, thought about another design I'd like to work, couldn't decide, tossed a coin, and cast on for the other project. I worked on it a bit while I was away, and decided I didn't like it. So I ripped and cast on for Ene's Scarf, and have decided that my instinct was right about the yarn. I think it will make a splendid working of Ene's Scarf. The possible message here is that I need to be better about trusting myself about some things.
- Although I hung out with friends who are knitters and spinners and I had plenty of time and opportunities to knit and spin, I actually did very little of either. I’m curious as to why that is, and wonder what it suggests about my relationship with the crafts.
- I know a variety of people going through a lot of change right now. There's a saying that "a door opens when one closes." I think that might be true, but what I've been seeing is that sometimes you think the door is closed --and you're waiting for the other to open -- but you have to check whether the door is really closed. Sometimes it's slightly ajar.
And I'm back to the reality of life. Laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning the bathroom...