Bobby and I are rooted to this inviting and enchanting, yet sometimes harsh corner of the world. The Mad River Valley is where we married, standing barefoot near to the stream of my grandparent’s house, surrounded by ferns and birch bark. Lush moss was coming up between our toes as we said our vows, connecting us to the solemn earth of Vermont.
We’re not the only people who’ve married in Vermont. Lisabeth Magoun, a family friend, and owner of American Flatbread and Lareau Farm Inn tells us that she caters weddings every weekend from May to October. The Valley boasts a robust cottage wedding industry. In fact, every couple I know who married in Vermont, are still happily together. Hmmm.
People should celebrate this magical place and by extension celebrate each other. You don’t vacation here to re-create your routine away from home. You come to immerse in the limitless experiences unique to the area, to enjoy the pace of life, and to meet the local Vermonters who live that life to the fullest. For those who do visit, I hope you feel the underlying current of energy that makes this place glow. It springs from inside the mix of sophisticated, industrious, and entrepreneurial people who work like dogs to keep new business ventures going and evolving, while embodying the values of Vermont, such as “keeping Vermont weird.”
Take our friend, Lisabeth, for example. We shared a cup of tea by her fireplace and talked about my hospital clown work, and about how her restaurant, American Flatbread, brings cheese pizza to the McDonald’s unit of the children’s hospital in Middlebury, VT. She talked about how the kids love it because every kid loves pizza and hospital food is, well, hospital food. She raved about the organic and local ingredients they use. It's impressive how good quality food is a staple here!
People here talk about businesses struggling, lots of turnover in the Valley, and poor ski seasons. But, new places are opening too. Ashley Woods, another family friend, and our wedding caterer inspires us with her perspective about how the Valley will go on, and everything has a natural ebb and flow. We were happy to see they received 30” of snow just days after we left. A welcomed gift for the winter season, but people are also looking forward to spring! They are ready for the music festivals, biking, hiking, and sharing of memories over the best local cuisine and beer made from mountain spring water. Ashley is as cool as a cucumber. A true Vermonter and an amazing chef. Her new restaurant Home Plate is doing well and starting new trends in the food world but is still full of local charm.
Interestingly, speaking with people who live in Vermont is one of the draws for tourists. The folks of this state have excellent taste in music. They are well read and educated. The stellar cuisine of the Valley prompts you to seek it out and chat those who craft it. There are no fast food restaurants, but plenty of local joints with homemade food ready to go. Everywhere is chill and full of real human interaction. The peace and tranquility are palpable here. You see and feel it in the jutting mountains and pristine lakes, but you also hear it in the bright, booming voices of locals like Babe Hall, caretaker of my grandparent's house. This big lumberjack of a man talked about seeing the smoke pouring out of our chimney and smiling, thinking about what a great time Bobby and I must be having. He said, “that’s what it’s for, this place.” Babe talks about the weather like it’s an old friend and is up almost every day at 7 am, to plow out his neighbors.
Having a good time is easy to do in Vermont. During the cold season, come ski your heart out and then rest by a warm, quintessential fireplace. Behold the power of the weather. Witness a snow squall at 6 am and the howling wind blowing down the mountain into the valley, bringing in three inches of snow in an hour. Relish the silence afterward, when the snow has blanketed the ground.
Spring fast approaches, and soon you’ll be enjoying the soundtrack of Vermont, complete with the chirps of animals and the sound of the Mad River running through the entire valley. And the soundtrack is not complete without the locals, with beaming smiles, big hugs, and lots to say. Do you want to talk local? We’ve got three tips. Take the time to stop and gab, have a sense of humor and be willing to try or have already skied Mad River Glen...if you can.
And while you’re there, why not go ahead and tie the knot. We’d love to be with you photographing the whole thing!