Our first stop in Vermont was the Vermont Country Store. It's a rest stop, snack place, and souvenir shop. We started our holiday shopping, picking up things for each other and friends and family. We did not buy the hat that Bud models here!
|A lovely tree with cookie ornaments|
Another stop we made on the way was the Vermont Toy and Train Museum in Quechee. There we wandered amid the displays of toys from our childhoods--Cher doll, Luke and Leia dolls, Donnie and Marie dolls, Holly Hobby dolls, various lunchboxes including Holly Hobby, Happy Meal toys, bubble bath dispenses, boxed Halloween costumes with plastic masks, Fisher Price Little People. And there was a great model train through the Vermont countryside in summer, fall, and winter.
In the same complex, there were various shops, including an antiques store, with old photos ("instant ancestors"), tools, tea sets, food tins. Fun to wander with the kids.
In our room were two treats--chocolate-covered strawberries and a notice that we would be riding in the town's Wassail parade, on the hotel's own wagon, both arranged by Mama and the concierge for my birthday!!!! Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. It made for the perfect weekend.
But before the parade Saturday afternoon, we spent Saturday morning wandering the town, listening to the high school band play carols, and visiting the Dana House and the historical society with its displays on Christmas past. (This was after breakfast, when we discovered our waitress grew up in the town we live in and her cousin owns the deli near our pediatrician's office. Small world.) Sis and Bud even ran down to the river behind the house, enjoying the snow (which we haven't really had in Connecticut.)
The parade!! Mama had given me a heads-up about it, actually, first to see if I were interested and second so that I could pick a festive outfit. As the theme was Victorian, I wore one of my long historic house skirts and my lovely blue wool cloak from Gommie, under which were layers of sweaters, leggings, extra skirts, and warm socks--because the morning temperature had been 3F!! We all got a ride to the staging area where Sis was in her element around all of the horses. Across from us was the donkey brigade which we just read about in the morning's paper (the group helps youth and adults with developmental disabilities who take care of the miniature donkeys.) The little donkeys wear stuffed animals on their backs and pull small carts, led by their handlers.
And then we got on our wagon, wearing matching plaid fleece scarves supplied by the hotel. The festooned wagon was led by two humongous Belgian draft horses. We rode along with another family and an older couple, singing "Rudolph," "Jingle Bells," and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas!" and waving to the crowds (over 2,000 cheering people!) It really was wonderful to see all the holiday cheer. And I liked seeing the old town from the wagon, which put me back in the 19th century. Though, it was pretty cold.
After the parade, we warmed up by the fire at the hotel with hot chocolate (and Bailey's!) At 4pm, we went to look at the town tree, Yule bonfire, and luminaries as the sun set. Dinner was the Wassail Feast at the hotel, with a variety of dishes such as prime rib, sliced salmon, Yorkshire Pudding, pumpkin bread pudding, buche de noel, and trifle. Mama and I made Yard of Flannel--hot apple cider and rum-whipped cream--and sat by the fire.
That evening we sat in the room, warming up from the day. I worked on my crocheted birthday blanket, in Lion Brand Thick and Quick Celestial Stripes. The kids made Rainbow Loom bands and played with their light-up wheelie bopper toys from the Vermont Country Store. (It was a no-screen weekend.)
Sunday, though it was cold again, we went to Billings Farm--with its draft horses, decorated farmhouse, and craft activities. The kids dipped their own candles and then Bud made a pomander with cloves and a clementine. Sis was enamored with the white Percheron draft horses and some more Belgians. And I liked the snow, the barns, and the warm kitchen with apple pie and roasted pumpkins.
On our way home, we ate at delicious Worthy Kitchen (poutine! fried chicken! pickled pineapple!) and then moseyed our way home. We did stop at the lake we'd visited with my folks in October--it was completely frozen and snow-covered. I did a 20-yard hike into the woods and watched Sis poked the ice with her toes.
We got home after dark, with snow falling gently on our town, the last little treat of the weekend.
My favorite photo, from town (actually taken from the car as we drove by.)
There was one uncomfortable thing that happened repeatedly in Vermont: there were a lot of questions about our family, race- and/or gender-based. From the woman at King Arthur Flour who thanked me for having a big heart and adopting Sis, to a white woman who said hi to Mama in Mandarin and was surprised she didn't speak Chinese, to the six or seven people (and I'm not exaggerating here) who mistook Mama for a boy/my son, Sis for a boy, and Bud for a girl. Never have so many assumptions been spoken to us aloud by so many in such a short time. It was rather disconcerting. We've had less trouble in rural Texas, for goodness sake. Come on, Vermont, what's with that? (And no, it wasn't just the tourists from elsewhere.)