Thursday, February 24, 2005

Woolfoot Does Dallas

If you're hoping for something racy, move on. The highlight of my day so far down here in the Big D was a breakfast at a faux-french place called La Madeleine here in North Dallas - or maybe the Grande Vanilla Latte at Starbucks. Even in Texas I do things small scale...

I am down visiting my baby brother who just bought a nice house in a nice neighborhood down here. I am supposed to be packing his kitchen in preparation for the move from his bachelor condo to the house tomorrow AM. It is always good to change scenery for a few days. I haven't been down here in years and it's an interesting contrast to the world of the Last House. Remember the Eagles: "Everything, all the time"? That's how this strikes me. I, of course, think it suffers in comparison to my Green Mountain home. My brother, when he visits us, feels the opposite way. I guess things work out.

The $$$$ flying around down here are amazing. My brother's new house is a nice '50s ranch, well kept and tastefully renovated. It cost him more than $600,000. He tells me the value is alomst completely in the lot and that the house, nice as it is and perfectly adequate for a couple or small family, is basically an impediment. All over his neighborhood houses of this vintage are "scrape-offs". Seems a shame to me and unChristian, really. I must say, however, that the new houses are generally very attractive. Still, what would our ancestors make of this?

Back to packing the kitchen.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

My Holy Mountain back on an uncrowded day in December.
copyright 2005 Kim Velk

View from the parking lot at Jay Peak
copyright 2005 Kim Velk

Mitchell, STAY HOME or "Too Many Skiers!"

If you have been following along here you know that we got about a foot of snow here on the Vermont/Quebec border last week. This snow was well publicized. I played my wee bloggish role in this. Well, the down side - believe it or not there is a downside to a snowstorm - is that it attracted a gazillion PFAs to my holy mountain, Jay Peak. (PFA = Vermonter for "people from away). I think of it as "mine" because when I hike there in the fall and summer I never see anyone else.

When I get off the beaten ski paths (in the woods where a person can snowshoe) if I meet one person on a beautiful winter day it's an oddity. True, people do go there to ski and I guess I have to put up with that given as it is someone's business and a ski resort, afterall, but the beauty of Jay has been its big, quiet, line-free nature. I fear all their TV advertising may have screwed that up. My little girl takes a ski lesson there each Saturday and she and I ski together on Sundays. This, the most far north of any U.S. ski area, was simply MOBBED. I waited til afternoon on Sunday to do our little ski outing thinking that the out-worlders would have decamped for Connecticut and Massachusetts and Ontario etc. but most of them were -- are you sitting down -- STILL THERE! Reader, I was clobbered by a youngster on a snowboard who cut me off and set my aging out-of-shape frame down hard! A responsible citizen chased the kid down, "buddy you need to apologize." I, when I could speak, lamely excused him. The kid, no doubt afraid he was in trouble, muttered something in French and beat it. My neck is still sore.

I have an unfortunate Babbitish streak that has compelled me from time to time to play booster to this rural no-wheresville I call home. A wail has been going up from a large and generally irritating subset of Vermonters for years, lamenting the arrival of the rest of the world. I have generally been out of sympathy with this crowd. Burlington and environs may need saving but people up here need jobs and schools. Of course, I am from that larger world but I got here when country wasn't cool, as the saying goes. This weekend makes me feel sympathetic to those who want to pull up the ladders.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Today at the top of Vermont

The big news around here is the snow. A foot or so fell on Thursday and Friday. Most everyone up here is glad to see it. If you hate winter you don't hang around on the US/Canadian border. The guy who re-opened our village gas station last week is surely happy. The gas station reopening is a big deal. It had been teetering along for years before the fire last Fall, mostly staffed by a local friendly, if beleagured, grandmother. I think had been looking for an exit for a long while before the fire. She was always nice to me and I sympathized with her, albeit silently. Several notices against trespass were hung near the newspaper stand. The place was robbed at least twice in the last ten years (hence the notices against trespass... even if the guys were never "caught," she had a good idea who had done it). The new owner is a village selectman and he has done the place up right: gutting it to the walls. It has new floors, new ceilings, a pizza oven and deli and place to sit and eat pizza and sandwiches. Most important of all, it has new pumps with brand new tanks: installed over several days in some serious cold by some serious big equipment. A snowmobile trail runs within 30 feet of the place and his gas pumps are the last ones the Quebecers hit on their way back into Canada. He can charge a little extra. I don't begrudge him.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The last house, February twilight.
copyright 2005 Kim Velk

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Welcome to the Last House

OK, it's really only the last house if you are heading out of the US and into Canada in North Troy, Vermont (and crossing the border illegally). If you're headed (legally) to the border station at Highwater, Quebec, on Vermont Route 243 there's a different (and much nicer) last house: a five-over-four colonial number with big trees in the front yard. Our house is a semi-spavined farmhouse, albeit on a beautiful piece of ground which, as noted, includes the 20-foot-strip that marks the Canada-US boundary. (Well patrolled by the Border Patrol, please note).

From this perch at the top of the country in a rural and none-too-stylish, though not without its charms, community I have a unique vantage point on things going on in the great world around me that I sometimes want to express. I'll be back.