In Vermont, as with Maine, winter is inevitable. Cold weather is unavoidable. For us, the effect is exacerbated by the fact that we moved from the coast to the mountains. Brunswick’s average annual temperature is a full 2.5 degrees warmer than Montpelier’s. But this comes with seasonal fluctuations – because of the moderating effect of the ocean, Brunswick is a full four degrees warmer (less cold?) in the winter months, while the temps are nearly even in the summer.
Which is a long-winded way of saying we are finding Montpelier to be damn cold this winter!
Because the cold and snow are inevitable, Vermonters have found ways to adapt, even embrace them. Indeed, much of the population seems to have self-selected precisely because snow and ice are abundant here. There are a lot of expatriates who are here for the skiing, as well as hiking during the warmer months. And the natives seem to wear it as a badge of their upbringing. Winter is accepted as fact of life here.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a party to give everybody an excuse to get out of their houses and see other people. There seems to be many a winter carnival, film festival, or other event going on throughout the state every weekend. Last weekend, it was Spice on Snow, and annual Cajun/Roots music festival in Montpelier presented by the Summit School. From Thursday through Sunday there were a variety of events, with some headliner concerts in the evenings, workshop during the days, and most small venues presenting free music during the daytime hours. Friday and Saturday nights also featured Cajun meals. The headline act for the festival was Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, who I had never heard of but who evidently are big names in traditional American music.
Though I heard about Spice on Snow several weeks ago and put it on the calendar, though things kicked off with a folk band playing at Capitol Grounds directly below my office, though we live literally five minutes or less by foot from every single venue – well, we had a hard time actually getting out the door to these events. (Did I mention the cold?) We’ve gotta do this or we’ve gotta do that, or we killed three hours looking at house listings, or we didn’t really budget for that concert – stuff like that.
On Sunday I felt the need to force the issue. So we went up to Morse Farm for a couple hours of skiing in the morning. Then we went to lunch at Tusli Tea House. Then we finally meandered over to the Capitol Grounds, finishing off the festival just as they had started it, and watched the Zeichner Family. The family featured three kids, late teens or early twenties, playing Celtic and Appalachian standards on fiddle, banjo, and Uillean pipes. Though I didn’t recognize the songs, the vibe was familiar.
We sat at a table with some strangers who, it turns out, moved from Maine seven years ago. They tried to convince us to move to Barre, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Other than the couple to my right who seemed to be on a first date, everyone in the cafe, from newborn babies to retirees, was enjoying the music and the camaraderie. It’s a long winter here in the north, but with people giving us a reason to get out of the house, it’s going to be a fun one!