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Fly Fishing, Early Morning Misty River

Summer in New England

While summer represents vacation time to many, I think of it as a hometown time as well. Even if it’s not your own hometown, summer is a great time to spend in small New England towns and villages. This is a time of parades, old home days, county fairs and all sorts of community and family celebrations. It’s a time to meet at the local lake or seashore, a time for cookouts and backyard gardening. A time for yard sales and country auctions, picnics and flea markets. Time to slow down and take life a little easier. The days are longer so you can afford to relax a bit.

Make time to camp and hike and fish if you like to be outdoors. Ride a bike and get into your canoe or kayak. Stop at the local ice cream stand and indulge in a cone. Immerse yourself in summer. Every day off holds special promise but with longer days, the evenings can be idyllic as well. Take time to watch the sunset, count the stars and roast some marshmallows.

Even chores seem relaxing. Hanging clothes on the line slows you down long enough to feel the sun on your shoulders and the breeze on your face. The rewards continue as you save on electricity and your sheets smell summer fresh. Washing the car suddenly seems less like work. You notice the reflections in the paint and enjoy the coolness of the water on your bare feet. Husking corn can be a quality time activity when done on the lawn or by the garden. No worries about that silk on the floor or furniture.

One of the things I really love about this time of year is seeing all the antique cars come out of winter storage. There’s something very exciting to me about old cars. I think it stretches back to my childhood. I remember living in Northern Vt. as a child and on weekends we would take our 1933 Packard straight eight limousine, owned by a former Vermont Governor, which for some inexplicable reason we’d nicknamed Angie, out to the countryside for picnics and old car rallies on weekends. My favorite destination was Smuggler’s Notch, a seemingly magical mountain pass at the base of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak. No matter how hot it was in summer, it was always cool and shady in the notch.

Smuggler’s Notch consists of Mountain Road, beginning in Jeffersonville and ending in Cambridge Vt. It twists and turns its way up the very narrow roadway, between overhanging trees and boulders. The drive was made all the more special due to being closed in winter. On the Jefferson side near the top, runs a crystal clear freshwater spring, gushing out of the rocky mountain face near the roadside. We always stopped there and filled several glass gallon (recycled A&W Root beer) jugs with water.

The drive and the view were always invigorating. Even though I live several hours away now in New Hampshire, I make an effort to return to that place as often as I can.

One of the things I remember so clearly about that trip, was my Dad always stopping at Hanley’s store in Cambridge to pick up a wedge of Cabot cheddar cheese, smoked out behind the store with corncobs. Amazingly, that store is still there and they still have that smoked cheese. I still stop there and bring back some of that cheese to my dad whenever I go.

Years after we’d moved to New Hampshire, I read Tolkien’s Hobbit for the first time, and images of that mysterious, dark, cool mountain pass, immediately came to mind. To this day, every time I drive up Mountain Road, I am gripped with the same vivid sense of adventure that I imagine those Hobbits experienced when they traveled the mountain passes and wild forests.