The Pleasures of Vermont

One day, I was deep in the heart of the US Southwest, the next day, I was headed with the family for the Green Mountains of Vermont. It was quite a contrast to visit Vermont, where the people have fought for years to keep Wal-Mart from invading. It is no secret that I gravitate towards places like this, all the while understanding that some value is created by the service economy commerce that drives growth in places like Phoenix and Connecticut. But, I’m not going to give in. I said, “some” value. The environmental degradation wrought by that growth is as visible as the concrete and steel structures that have besieged little New England towns, though most people don’t see it that way. The current emphasis on “green everything” has raised the issue, but not enough. Too much focus on the global warming aspect of the overall environmental problems that we face is keeping other issues from being seen or heard. Fortunately, Vermont still has those little towns with charm….and a bit of undeveloped land. I was interested to listen on the drive home from Vermont, to an NPR All Things Considered story about the environmental effects of farming in the  mid-west. The story about dust bowl migrants and the tough times they faced after the land was overfarmed was gripping. It was further proof that resources, like water, are limited. Both NPR and National Geographic have collaborated to produce a fine series called Climate Connections.

The reason for our family’s quick trip to Vermont was to run in the Herc Open, the 1st Annual Vermont Speed Hiking Competition, at Sugarbush Ski Resort in Warren. We spent the night before the race at a motel in Quechee, a stone’s throw from Quechee State Park where there is a very deep gorge (by New England standards). We managed to have dinner at the Simon Pearce factory restaurant: The Mill at Quechee, VT. The Simon Pearce factory has to be one of my favorite places in Vermont.

 Simon Pearce is in an old woolen mill.

It combines my love of entpreneurial manufacturing (glass and pottery in this case), with my love of Vermont village life, and my love for the environment. Simon Pearce started his business in Ireland in 1971 and moved it to Vermont in 1981.

The factory is on the Ottauquechee River in the center of Quechee, VT.

He occupied an old woolen mill on the Ottauquechee River and managed to power the factory with hydrolectric power. When you tour the factory, you can get an up close view of the modern system that is in use today.

 The hydroelectric turbine.

Simon Pearce makes craft products in volume and visiting the old factory (where only a small portion of their overall output is produced today) is well worth it.

You can watch glass blowers in action at the factory.

It is also worth mentioning that a visit to the Putney Co-Op is also worth it. The Livingston Family are members. We were disappointed to miss the 10% members discount (on the 10th of the month) on Friday because we had no time to stop, but we visited on the return trip. Missing the discount is kind of how the first half of the weekend went…out of sync.

1 Response to “The Pleasures of Vermont”

  1. 1 pixxiesuncle 9 December 2008 at 6:41 pm


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