Wanderings IV: Vermont (via Wanderlust)

I would fish around in the bottom of my mother's purse for stray pennies and nickels until my brother and I each had a fistful. We'd cut through the back of the yard behind the tennis courts to get to the general store. Inside there were endless goldfish bowls filled with double bubble, pieces of fudge, swedish fish, smarties and every other imaginable candy. Everything was marked one cent or a nickel. We'd grab a little brown lunch bag, fill them up and bring them up to the register where we would spread all of our coins across the wooden bar. Miss Jacuzzi (we loved that her name was jacuzzi) would sit there with us and count every last penny. We'd sit on the sun-drenched porch and horse trade bubble gum the rest of the afternoon.

This was how I spent summers in Grafton, Vermont when I was growing up. In places where the owner of the establishment also worked the register, where it took an hour to get anywhere and no one cared, and where half of the people were named Ray. In Vermont, time yawns and stretches its arms out wide over the hills.

We are very excited to announce the inaugural Wanderlust Vermont festival at Stratton Mountain. It's a beautiful canvas on which to create our event - and a lot closer for you east coasters.

As I drove around Vermont this past late summer and fall, it was hard to find a town without a green market. Vermont didn't so much rediscover the local food movement as it has served as an example for local-based economy. From maple syrup to cheese to micro-brews, Vermont is the national capital of cottage craft and industry. Even its brands that have scaled - like Cabot - work closely with local farmers. 

In 2009, there were 543 organic farms in the Green Mountain state. It's no surprise that this state (the 2nd smallest by population) is ranked the healthiest state in the country.

Vermont has always had a strong independent streak. Instead of joining the Union, Vermont formed its own republic in 1777. It wasn't until 1791 that Vermont joined the United States as the fourteenth state. That sense of independence still pervades Vermont politics. Representative Bernie Sanders is one of only two independents in the House and is a self-identified democratic socialist.

It's not surprising that Vermont has birthed a number of great arts, yoga, music and environmentally oriented events --- like Strolling of the Heifers, the weekly Bread & Puppet performances, the Burlington Yoga Festival, the Marlboro Music Festival and many more. Wanderlust Vermont is blessed to be able to draw heavily from what is local; great food, an incredible arts and wellness community, micro-brews and more.

When surveying the festival site, my good friend and collaborator, DK, called the beauty of the Vermont landscape "hushed." I've quoted him many times since. The mountains roll, the grass is lush, the sky heavier. The colors seem to blur like a watercolor. The energy is peaceful, old.  Those of you who have been to Tahoe know the grandeur of that landscape. It's majestic and jaw-dropping. The high, jagged mountains set against the thin air create an almost hyper-realistic beauty --- like you blew up the contrast in photoshop ;-). It's awesome in the true meaning of the word. 

So while Wanderlust Tahoe and Wanderlust Vermont will share many of the same components - yoga, music, nature, FUN - they will undoubtedly be influenced by their natural surroundings. If Tahoe inspires you to reach up towards the sky to find beauty and truth then Vermont asks you to look inward in the same search.