Take me back to Vermont in the summertime
May 29, 2020 9:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for books and essays that capture the sensory experience of rural Vermont. Bonus if it's in the summer. It is my homeland and I won't be able to visit for a long time it seems. I want to pretend I'm there !

Obvs I got all my childhood friends on the gram so that's been great but I'm looking for the written word.

Like the sweet smell of a meadow in June. How the wind sounds on a warm day when there is nothing but trees and leaves for it to rustle. Going down to the river on a hot day, and when you get into the woods its ten degrees cooler and you wade in and feel the icy water numbing your calves and sharp pebbles beneath your toes.
posted by pintapicasso to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Going up the Country
posted by beagle at 9:59 AM on May 29, 2020

I don’t know if this would be close or too far: Donald Hall wrote essays about living at Eagle Pond Farm in rural New Hampshire. Try the titles “Here at Eagle Pond” and “Seasons at Eagle Pond”.
posted by epj at 1:22 PM on May 29, 2020

I just finished reading Going up the Country, it's very good. If you like hippie memoirs I'd also like to suggest We Are As Gods by a woman who grew up as a child in one of those intentional communities.

For Vermonty summertime, my favorite go-to is the work is Howard Frank Mosher. Can be a little previous occasionally but if that is okay with you (it is with me) all his stories are great. Maybe start with Waiting for Teddy Williams which is a summer (baseball) story. I'm partial to On Kingdom Mountain but I seem to recall a lot of it takes place in wintertime. This book is a ridiculous antique but there might be some fun in that. I haven't read Wandering Home by McKibben, but I have read his other books and this one seems possibly most up your alley.
posted by jessamyn at 1:25 PM on May 29, 2020

How To Catch A Frog, a memoir by fabric designer Heather Ross. Stunningly evocative descriptions of her childhood in rural Vermont in the 1970s/80s. Her family life was less than perfect, so if maybe skip if reading descriptions of those dynamics would be upsetting for you, but the outdoor landscape of the Northeast Kingdom formed her as a young artist, and she does a knockout job of conjuring it on the page.
posted by apparently at 2:44 PM on May 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

This individual created a list of Vermont-related books on Amazon, worth looking through.

And I will probably get dinged on points because you are looking for summer-related books, but every kid growing up in VT knows about Snowflake Bentley (or at least they did in the 70s) he is a classic independent Vermonter and this article paints a great picture of his life and environment.
posted by jeremias at 2:52 PM on May 29, 2020

Some of Archer Mayor's Joe Gunther mysteries might contain elements of what you want. Gunther is a Brattleboro cop, and each book features some unique Vermont feature: Somerset Reservoir; a deserted mountaintop radar site; a big quarry. I'd stick with the early books;there comes a point that it becomes really hard to believe that the Korean-War veteran Gunther is still on the police.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:40 PM on May 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Love this question. And I'll probably read some of these recs myself.

The real tough thing seems to be less the "Vermont" and more the "sensory experience." That's what rings the loudest for me in your post. I can't help you with the first part. But this list that I've been working on for a future semi-related AskMe might be up your alley. All of these books have large chunks that live and breathe summer sensory experience of the natural world. Largely rural, too. I grew up in Maine, and all of them resonated with me, bringing me back to my own childhood summers — whether set in New England, the Nordic countries, Greece, the South Pacific, etc.

The Summer Book - Tove Jansson
Dandelion Wine - Ray Bradbury
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life - William Finnegan
My Family and Other Animals - Gerald Durrell
The Country of the Pointed Firs - Sarah Orne Jewett
Wildwood - Roger Deakin
Tortilla Flat - John Steinbeck
Seacrow Island - Astrid Lindgren
The Colossus of Maroussi - Henry Miller
Ring of Bright Water - Gavin Maxwell
The Dharma Bums - Jack Kerouac
Big Sur - Henry Miller
The Peninsula - Louise Dickinson Rich
Sailboat Tramp - Tom Crichton
The Story Girl - L.M. Montgomery
posted by Text TK at 6:34 AM on May 30, 2020 [3 favorites]

I just finished reading Going up the Country, it's very good.

I was about to recommend this book as well. When I first moved to Vermont in 2005, we got sheep and I was given this book to read. Being a Vermont you can laugh at flatlanders like myself!

I know you have local friends on Da 'Gram, but feel free to peruse my feed. Much of my feed is views and flora & fauna and such. I also do a daily timelape and run a scenic webcam if that will help?

posted by terrapin at 3:03 PM on May 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

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