June 28, 2013, Stowe, Vt: A copy of Yankee Magazine is on the table by the window when I arrive in my hotel room in Stowe, Vermont. The issue is a few months old, maybe left behind by an earlier guest, maybe held onto by hotel staff because its contents hit home. Either way, the publication is a gift; inside are stories set on a New Hampshire farm, where a woman threw a birthday party for her house’s 250th year, or in Cabot, Vermont, where children drew maps of the best places in town, detailing routes to the candy store and the lake where they found an enormous spider. Also included are the winning submissions from “My Hometown” photo contest and tales of people whose connection to the land runs so deep they refuse to sell. “They know what they’re about, and where they live is a big part of that,” writes Howard Mansfield, author of the article called, “My Roots are Deeper Than Your Pockets.” “They have something of the reach of the land within themselves.” Editor Mel Allen writes that this issue devoted to the power of place is one of those that speaks to him more than the others. I see what he means.
I read the magazine cover to cover before running the bike path towards Stowe Village in the early morning. This is beautiful country, so New England. The path crosses over and back along a winding creek that flows from the round mountains of the East. Rain that hung around for days has just cleared out and it’s humid in the Green Mountains, but nothing compared to the humidity back home in DC.
It’s a treat to visit someplace in its offseason. In summer, this ski town is relatively quiet; some business owners close their doors, thank customers for a great year and promise to see them again when the lifts open. Others welcome us to join them during the lull and to map Stowe as we see it in summer, as newcomers to town.