Tuesday, March 22, 2005

One-Trick Pony?

Jeez. I just re-read a bunch of my postings and I am a regular Johnny One Note!(Vermont blah blah blah). Sorry if I have been boring you (are "you" out there? I seem not to have attracted a single comment so I don't know if anyone other than a couple of friends have even looked at this spot).

In case any "you" are wondering the Burlington condo deal seems to have been sealed. I took the kids to the little North Troy Library after school yesterday. On the way out of the building (combo fire house, library, police department and clerk's office) our village clerk, Nancy Allen, stopped me to say my new landlord had called her to check us out. Very clever. As anyone who lives in small town Vermont knows, village clerks know everything about every body. My landlord is a native Vermonter. Why bother with references when village clerks are available? Well, Nancy is a neighbor and if we had a fan club she might be its president (it would be a small club, naturally). So she told him, of course, we were the best people in town (her exact words). If he won't rent to us after that I don't know what would persuade him. Only in Vermont! OOPS. There I go again. OK. I am going to shut up and get dressed now.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Mud Season And Another Change

In these last few melty days, great hunks of ice have been slipping off the red steel roof of the Last House, threatening to take the gutters down with them. It wouldn't be much of a loss as the gutters have been clogged for about 12 years, since about 20 minutes after we had them installed at considerable expense when we first bought the place. There is a a stand of Locust trees behind the house, growing well north of their range, that provide a nice tracery of branches behind the house all winter and some beautiful-smelling blossoms for about three days in June, but shedding gutter-clogging leaves each fall.

The trees and their ways are one of the thousands of little details about life in the Last House I have been contemplating in recent weeks. I, Woolfoot, have taken a job in the closest American city of any size, Burlington, Vermont, and the long term future of the Last House is in question. That immortal question rings, "Should I stay or should I go now?"

Well, nothing will happen right away. We have rented a condo in Burlington that will house the little family or some part of it during the weeks for the next year or so, then we will probably have to make up our minds about whether we will be regular Americans (Burlington) or irregular ones (North Troy). Both have their charms. Burlington has employment opportunities.

The condo I have bargained to rent has a view over Lake Champlain to the Adirondacks and as you walk to the little parking area Burlington twinkles up the hillside which it climbs from the lake. A bike path connects the Condo to my office downtown. A good public school, where my Harvard-graduate friends have their kids, lies on the path between the two places. Much will be demanded of Woolfoot to pay the bills, but much more is available by way of opportunity.

After viewing the condo yesterday, I stopped on my way out of town for a Grande Vanilla Latte at the Starbucks near the Connector. College types served it up with a piece of lemon cake. Of course, our local North Troy reinvigorated gas station has coffee too, (see my earlier post on the topic of the gas station) but the contrast between the First and Last Border Stop and Starbucks of Burlington tells the whole story and highlights my dilemma.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Back In My Nordic Home

It took eleven hours from the door of my brother's new house in one of Dallas's fanciest neighborhoods to get back to the door of our house in one of the least fancy towns in Vermont. The many pieces of the journey went smoothly and I am grateful for that. The snow is back, all through the northeast, so I am glad I got my travelling done on Sunday. I flew in and out of Montreal, which is about an hour and half from here. Things up there are looking great. Dallas was interesting but Montreal is "my" city, where I spent most of my 20s. We have bonded. Having imprinted on Montreal I don't know that I can ever form a deep feeling for any other. I have a general antipathy to the suburbs, but I'll admit I was beguiled by my brother's neighborhood. It helps that it is close to the core of Dallas.

Interesting to journey through America. Looking out of the window of the plane on my way into Dallas last Tuesday night, and seeing the miles and miles of lights, I was impressed by the power of capital to get things done. A hundred years ago there was nothing down there. Now there is a civilzation unique in world history: one which a humble, poorly compensated state employee (I am a deputy State's attorney here) can gaze down upon from 30,000 feet from the comfort of a jet plane and it's all just la vie quotidien. Amazing.

Also amazing, and somehow depressing, is the fact that my search for some small gifts for my kids took me to the Barnes & Nobel in my brother's neighborhood and to Costco. Both places I can shop at in Burlington or any other place I am likely to go. Part and parcel of the power of our economy is this general sameness in the crap we can buy. Regional differences definitely survive, however, if not in consumables in the general approach to life. I was impressed by the thin, made-up blonde woman who was talking on the cell phone at the ladies room at Home Depo Expo in North Dallas (not a type we see much up here). She was winding up her conversation on the phone and yelled to her little girl in the stall, impatiently, "Are y'all done in there?" Love it.