From out of the way parks, to hidden swimming holes, to
tucked away towns, and great creemee stands, Vermont
is teeming with places to visit in the summer.
And during a season when many of our wallets are feeling the pinch, we
scour the state for the best inexpensive spots to visit. Our guide is Vermont
author, Helen Husher, author of Off the Leash: Subversive Journeys Around
Also, Burlington Free Press reporter Candace Page joins us
to talk about how humans impact birds and their habitat. In some cases human intervention has helped
rehabilitate species like loons and peregrine falcons, but there are other
cases where humans have caused more harm. Listen
Photo: The view from the top of Snake Mountain in Addison County (credit: Jane Lindholm/VPR)
Helen Husher’s "staycation" picks:
*It’s time to think about picking your own*. Vermont has lots of pick-your-own farms, and if you want the
bonus of a breathtaking drive on Route 100, try Sunshine Valley Berry Farm in Rochester. They grow raspberries, blueberries, blackberries,
and cherries. They open July 4. They post a ripening calendar on their web site
and also have a recorded message on their phone line that keeps hungry berry
lovers in the know about what’s in season.
Cherry Hill Farm in Springfield is another lovely place, high in the hills with
amazing views. Their unusual specialty is currants, along with strawberries and
raspberries, and they also sell amazing jams. You may have already eaten Cherry Hill
fruit without quite realizing it–their fruit goes into Vermont Mystic Pies,
Water Buffalo Yogurt, and Walpole Creamery products.
If you prefer flowers, try Olallie Daylily Gardens in South
Newfane. Daylilies bloom from June to September-the
six-acre fields are thick with probaby hundreds of different kinds-and this
year they are actually offering more than 50 new cultivars. The place itself
has quite a history-farmer Chris Darrow is the grandson of George Darrow, a
renowned plant geneticist who planted the first highbush blueberries on this
farm in Vermont in 1948. As the head of the USDA blueberry breeding
program, Darrow the elder was also responsible for delivering about 200,000
blueberry seedlings to experiment stations and farmers, firmly establishing the
crop into the New England pantheon of good edibles, and he was also a skilled
breeder of new varieties of lilies.
PYO helps farmers by reducing their labor costs and we get the benefit of fresh
local organic food. If you go, bring the kids but leave the dog at home.
*If you love toys or have family
members who do*, consider getting down to the
Montshire Museum in Norwich where you can play with a huge etch-a-sketch, make
a frog jump, and figure out how a jack-in-the-box really works. The exhibit
covers pulleys, cams, linkages, gears circuits, a look inside Hokey Pokey Elmo,
whatever that is, and the innards of Mr Machine, a robot I remember with awe
and mystification. This special exhibit runs through August 30, and I am
definitely going to be there, maybe more than once.
in Montpelier is a new art and performance space that showcases the local-I
went to a Sarah Blair concert there about a week ago, and after the show there
was an informal Irish session for anyone who wanted to play. Like a lot of the
good things in Montpelier, it has a touch of funk-when you arrive at the Abbey off
the Pioneer Street bridge, you think maybe you ought to be getting your
car repaired. But don’t be put off-inside is a wonderful performance space with
big windows, good acoustics, and a happy, casual atmosphere. The focus is on
music, theater, and dance, and people can rent studio and rehearsal space. July
3, Lamb Abbey will host Sara Grace and the Suits, a sweet, bluesy, fusion band
with a lead singer who sounds a little like Sheryl Crow on tranquilizers.
*Get thee to a fish hatchery*. You don’t even have to be an angler to get off
on this. There are five hatcheries around the state, raising the fry and young
stock that will be released into Vermont’s lakes and rivers. Often you are allowed to feed the
fish, which gets them excited, and it’s great fun to see so many fish up close
without doing any actual work. Each hatchery is different and raises different
species, and in my experience the fish and wildlife staff who work in them are
welcoming and eager to show you around. There are fish hatcheries in Newark
(NEK), Bennington, Grand Isle, Roxbury, and Salisbury.
*Victoriana rules! *Porter Music Box
in Randolph* *builds their machines the
old-fashioned way-they make the largest disk-style music boxes in the country
and maybe the world-I don’t know for sure about that. The big music boxes are
elaborate, inlaid pieces of furniture, and the harmonics and the range of these
instruments is truly impressive. They also sell small, or at least normal-sized
music boxes that sit on a table and won’t break the bank; in 1994 they also
opened a museum on site and actively welcome visitors. The museum features rare
and unusual music boxes and if you go you’ll also get a chance to poke around
in the restored 1835 schoolhouse packed with Victorian-era Christmas decorations,
18^th and 19^th century children’s toys, a large collection of postcards,
Victorian fans, and even some Native American bead work.
*The Dirt Cheap Money Circus and
Pageant* is this summer’s offering from
Bread and Puppet in Glover, running Sundays at 3 p.m.
through the end of August. If you haven’t been to Bread and Puppet, or haven’t
been in a while, this is the time to go-they seem to be slowly circling back
into circus mode, on a much smaller scale, since the Resurrection Circus was
brought to a close eleven years ago. They are also offering community
shape-note singing on Tuesday evenings and open community printing on Thursdays
at 9:30 in the morning starting the second week in July. Or,
if you’re not much of a party animal, you can go it alone through the museum,
which is perhaps one of the most memorable drafty barns in New England,
packed with puppets, signs, art, stories, and their trademark, heartfelt
resistance to business as usual.