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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vermont, Left of New Hampshire

I LoVermont. Really, I do. In my last 2 years of living in New York City I felt the pull to the north. My husband and I had friends up here and came up for vacation. It felt like home. So I loved the place from afar for a few more years. Now, 16+ years of living here later I see its faults. But like a good marriage, it's become dearer to me with time, and grew more valued by my being away from it a couple of times.

Vermont is certainly Yankee country. Not Yankee as the rest of the world uses the term; Yankee as we define it ourselves. To Southerners everyone north of the Mason-Dixon line is a Yankee. To those north of that line, Yankees are New Englanders. And among New Englanders Yankees are divvied up by state- Massholes, Connecticu*ts, Vermonsters, New Hampshits and Mainiacs.

New York, where I grew up, had an attitude about New Jersey. So much so that New Yorkers didn't care what New Jerseyans thought of us. We made up songs like "Go Back to New Jersey". And even each borough of the city held the others in contempt. I remember being ashamed to tell my friends I was moving to Staten Island. And proud to tell the world when I was finally living in Manhattan at the ripe old age of 25. I'd finally escaped being "Bridge and Tunnel" or an "OB" ("Outer Borough"). It never occurred to me that other states would have an attitude about neighboring states. They do.

Around here there is a definite line, called the Connecticut River. On the right lies New Hampshire. Radically Right. On the left, Vermont. So Left it gets called Socialist. And at times not Left enough for me. Still, in comparison to other places it's quite Liberal. We were first in legalizing same sex Civil Unions, and now have same sex marriages (I've always said why shouldn't they suffer just as much as us). We are actively working on universal healthcare for everyone in the state. Our children have full coverage. You can see it in their teeth, so much better than my generation. There is thriving, sometimes over enthusiastic activism here. I've met many of the best people I've ever known here. We have the best man in the US Senate, Bernie Sanders, a fellow native Brooklynite. There are a lot of transplants here, too. Others who had the same feeling I did about the place. And I imagine the natives here have the same feeling I did for all the transplants who came to NYC. A slight annoyance, a touch of smugness and a bit of not understanding why the hell anyone would purposely move to my hometown. But a pride, too. And all of us defend Vermont together and tell the disgruntled to move to New Hampshire, just as we New Yorkers told the New Jerseyans to get out of NY.

It isn't perfect. Anywhere there are people isn't perfect. But it's damn good. Pretty, too. You should come visit. We're just above Massachusetts, and left of New Hampshire.

10 comments:

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Now there's a line that's true for sure..."anywhere there's people isn't perfect"....

Austan said...

haha! we're the least perfect creatures!

paulg said...

Humans = highest high, lowest low of any creature...

New Hamshits?...snicker...
I call them New Hamsters.

Austan said...

Paul, yeah, I've heard both, but prefer New Hampshits. :)

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

After forty years of living in a state that's so uncompromisingly red, "democrat" is practically a dirty word, I'd love to live somewhere like Vermont for a change. (If you could only get rid of the snow and cold weather ...)

Austan said...

Sisan, when you're ready to move let me know. I have friends in real estate. Right now, it's 40 degrees and raining! :D

sdt said...

It was all made clear for me in a trip one October in the late 1980's. My friend Duncan and I were motoring across the top of New Hampshire. Duncan was an architect, and we'd stopped to photograph an oddly graceful green iron work civic trash or water something or other. Everything around us was brown and gray and granite. I climbed up onto an abutment and as I looked to my left, I could see a river, and just beyond that hills full of color as though Tinerbell had just started a Disney show. That was Vermont. And that has been the simple version of the difference ever since.

Except for the old saw that a Yankee eats apple pie for breakfast. And a Vermonter uses a knife.

Austan said...

The eating of apple pie for breakfast is proof to me of just how wise New Englanders are. ;) You need a knife to cut the cheddar!

MoonRaven said...

I know that NH is definitely on the right, but I still hold a fondness for all the New England states--and Vermont, for the brief time I lived there, was gorgeous. Still the White Mountains can be breathtaking and if you can ignore the libertarians and the folks with the power boats on Lake Winnipesaukee, NH has a lot to offer. I just love living up here--it's really hard to drag me out of New England.

PS In your names for the residents of the NE states, you left out Rhode Island. Surely there must be a name for the RIers.

Austan said...

Moony! Ya know, I've never heard one for Rhode Islanders!
Unless something drastic happens, I'll never leave Brattleboro. I love all of New England, but Bratt is home. I have dreams of having homes in other places- Maine, Scotland, Hawaii.. but Bratt will always be #1.