Indian Summer in Vermont
© Kremer/Bildagentur Huber

Indian Summer

  • TEXT HORST-DIETER EBERT
  • PHOTOS ALEX FRADKIN

They aren’t sad in Vermont when summer turns to fall because that’s when the trees don the magnificent foliage that draws visitors from far and wide. We tour the state from south to north

1 Writing amid beauty in Shaftsbury

How many shades of red, yellow, brown and green actually exist? And just how blue can a blue sky get? Perhaps it’s the spectacular scenery that inspires many people in Vermont to write.

The list of famous names is long. There’s Robert Frost, the father of American poetry, whose former home in Shaftsbury, southern Vermont, now has a first-floor museum.

Rudyard Kipling wrote The Jungle Book in Dummerston, and Nobel literature prizewinners Pearl S. Buck and Saul Bellow lived and worked in the state, as did novelists Dorothy Thompson and Sinclair Lewis, whose Twin Farms estate is now a luxury hotel.

German writer Carl Zuckmayer spent many years in exile in the USA and tried his hand at farming in Vermont. Even the Russian Nobel literature prizewinner Alexander Solzhenitsyn lived here for a while.

Indian Summer in Vermont LHM October 2016

Half high tech, half religion: Fly fishing in Manchester

© Alex Fradkin
Indian Summer in Vermont LHM October 2016

Nature’s children: twins in Burlington

© Alex Fradkin
Indian Summer in Vermont LHM October 2016

The former home belonging to the American poet Robert Frost is now a museum

© Alex Fradkin
Indian Summer in Vermont LHM October 2016

Nostalgia for sale in Plymouth Notch

© Alex Fradkin

2 Lake monster in Lake Champlain

Encounters of the third kind are not alien to Vermont. Lake Champlain, for instance, is said to be inhabited by a serpent named Champ. It is otherwise a very beautiful lake, twice the size of Lake Constance in Europe, and borders on Canada in the north.

There are also dozens of houses in Vermont that are said to be haunted. One prominent example is The Equinox hotel in Manchester. Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of the former president, has been sighted repeatedly in the Green Mountain Suite

3 Fly fishing in Manchester

As you travel around, you soon realize that just about everyone here likes to hike, kayak, hunt, fish or go bird watching. You simply cannot get away from the adjective “outdoor.”

The accompanying clothing and equipment mecca in Manchester is Orvis, a company named after Charles F. Orvis, who founded it over 160 years ago. Today, you can even book driving lessons for an SUV and learn how to fly fish.

“Fly fishing,” the sales clerk says, is “half high tech and half religion.”

The yup-sayers of Plymouth Notch

Vermonters are said to be taciturn. Their favorite words are “nope” and “yup.” People like to describe the mentality by quoting an old-timer whose reply to the classic reporters’ question: “So you’ve spent your whole life in the country?” was: “Not yet!”

Calvin Coolidge, the last U.S. president from Vermont, was also well known for his laconic style. At a White House dinner, a socialite reportedly challenged him by saying: “I bet my husband that I could get you to say more than three words.” His reply: “You lose.”

Vermonters are taciturn. Their favorite words are ›nope‹ and ›yup‹

Will Knight, spider artist

Coolidge’s birthplace, a wooden cabin in Plymouth Notch, is a pretty example of Old Vermont. The village itself hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years, either, and includes a Coolidge family cheese factory dating back to 1890.

Indian Summer in Vermont LHM October 2016

Hiking, hunting, watching animals: This store in Manchester reflects what locals like

© Alex Fradkin

Spider art in Williamstown

Carl Zuckmayer called the people of Vermont “odd fish.” An encounter in Williamstown proves his point: Will Knight, 92, who refers to himself as the Spider Web Man, has been breeding spiders on his farm for 40 years.

He has also devised a way of transferring the webs onto wooden boards and lacquering them to keep them in place. “It’s not complicated what I do, but the result is beautiful,” says Knight. He also sells spider T-shirts along with Vermont crafts and maple syrup. 

6 Horsing around in Waitsfield

They say there are 21 people for every horse in Vermont. Every year, the Vermont Summer Festival Horse Shows take place at the Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset. Recreational riders can also book trail rides through the woods of Vermont.

7 Edible delights in Waterbury

“From farm to plate” is the culinary motto in Vermont. Back in the 1980s, organic food trailblazers included Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who created their own, highly individual brand of ice cream containing all-natural ingredients from Vermont.

Ben & Jerry’s took off around the world, was bought up by Unilever and is now also marketed in Europe. The original factory in Waterbury is the state’s most popular attraction.

Not far away, in a mill beside a waterfall, the owner and chef of the Hen of the Wood restaurant combines regional produce with a subtle culinary approach. 

Indian Summer in Vermont LHM October 2016

Over hill and dale: You can go trail riding at an Icelandic horse farm in Moretown

© Alex Fradkin
Indian Summer in Vermont LHM October 2016

Mussel toast with radishes: Regional is all the rage ...

© Alex Fradkin
Indian Summer in Vermont LHM October 2016

... also at the Hen of the Wood restaurant owned by chef Eric Warnstedt

© Alex Fradkin

8 What’s brewing in Stowe

Nowhere in the USA are there as many breweries in relation to inhabitants as in Vermont. More than 40 produce craft beer. Most of the breweries are concentrated in the northeastern part of the state, in a region lovingly referred to as the Napa Valley of Beer. Beer festivals are very popular.

So are Vermonters big drinkers? They deny this, saying that to them, it’s all about variety. This is also provided by the heirs of the original von Trapp family (of Sound of Music fame), who operate their own microbrewery in the Trapp Family Lodge.

9 Green power in Burlington

Vermont is known as the “Green Mountain State,” (French: vert – green; montagne – mountain) and it’s not just the mountains that are green. Vermont is a way ahead of the rest of the USA when it comes to protecting the climate and environment.

Instead of billboards (which are prohibited in Vermont), solar collectors line the streets. “This year we aim to double our production of solar energy,” says Mary Powell, the president of Vermont’s biggest power utility, Green Mountain Power, who follows environmental guidelines and was voted “Vermonter of the Year” in 2015.

So it’s no wonder that the first fair-sized U.S. city to be entirely powered by green energy lies in Vermont. 

10 Brilliant colors near Lancaster and all over Vermont

Colored leaves are very beautiful to look at. “Sugar maples and red oaks shout with crazy, ecstatic brilliance,” Carl Zuckmayer wrote. There’s even a number you can call for information about this period spanning late August to the end of October.

But for reasons of political correctness, people around here don’t say “Indian Summer” anymore, they call it the foliage season. Everyone knows that the annual riot of blazing colors is what’s meant.


 

Indian Summer in Vermont
© Cristóbal Schmal

Vermont von Süd nach Nord 

Robert Frost Stone House Museum, Shaftsbury
frostfriends.org

2 The Equinox Resort, Manchester
equinoxresort.com

Learn to fly fish, Manchester
orvis.com

Calvin Coolidge’s Homestead, Plymouth Notch
coolidgefoundation.org

Knight’s Spider Web Farm, Williamstown
spiderwebfarm.com

Trail riding, Waitsfield
icelandichorses.com

7 Restaurant Hen of the Wood, Waterbury
henofthewood.com

8 Trapp Family Brewery, Stowe
vontrappbrewing.com

Green energy, Burlington
burlingtonvt.gov

10 Fall foliage, Lancaster
foliage-vermont.com