Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Place to Live

A week from now, I'll be in Brattleboro, Vermont, on my annual Labor Day trip there with D. It's crazy how much I look forward to this.

We'll fly to Hartford, Connecticut, then drive through Northampton, Massachusetts, where we stop for dinner, usually sending a photo and/or text to my sister and our friend G., both of whom went to Smith College. It's an easy 90-minute drive to Brattleboro, where we stay in a charming B&B with great breakfasts and usually tolerable people to chat with in the morning (in addition to the very pleasant owner/cook).

On the first day in town, we'll check our favorite stops (surely to return to some more than once). Brattleboro is not a touristy town; it's a place where people live. But I've always thought it's kind of the perfect town because it has one of just about everything you'd need—except, for the past few years, a bookstore. It had a fantastic one until a fire destroyed the building it was in, and it hasn't reopened since (though there is a sister store in the town of Wilmington, which we're sure to visit, too).

There are two good antique/thrift shops, a bead store where I got a metal thingy four years ago that I still wear around my neck, a great bakery/cafe where we get lunch or a snack a couple of times, as well as a couple of other coffee shops, a used-CD store (usually buy something for the car), several gift/home decor shops, an REI-type outdoor store called Sam's, a handful of galleries, a historic movie theater, a fantastic farmers market where I need to get some more handmade mugs for my builder's tea (a term I learned this year), decent restaurants, a museum (that, strangely, I've never been to)—and, should I ever move there, a hospital and a tattoo emporium.

There's a gay swimming hole in the woods, a short drive away (D. has been visiting Brattleboro since two boyfriends ago and knew about it). We'll also go to some nearby (or not-so-nearby) towns, maybe Putney, maybe Weston (home of the Vermont Country Store) or Woodstock (farther afield). One year we drove across the state to Bennington for an Irish music festival, which introduced us to Maura O'Connell; I haven't seen it on the schedule since then, but it was a memorable day, with a garlic festival and an antique mall down the road.

Just across the river in New Hampshire from Brattleboro is Mount Wantastiquet, good for an hour or so's hike up to a beautiful view. We've also started driving just a bit farther into New Hampshire to Keene for dinner one night, and last year we saw a good movie at the Colonial Theatre there. Keene also happens to have one of the best kitchenware stores I've ever been in. Who knew?

And if it rains or we're bored, we can always drive back into Northhampton for antiquing and vegan food. That's another town I could live a very happy life in.