Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Northeast Kingdom

Yesterday, my husband and I spend a perfect day in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. It's the far north eastern section of Vermont, and it's as wild and beautiful as any place in the world, and its landscape and people exemplify what makes Vermont Vermont. It was coined the Northeast Kingdom almost 70 years ago by the then Governor George Aiken, who said something to the effect that the place was so special it ought to be its own kingdom.The phrase stuck.

It is wild and forested, and the people still predominantly live on small dairy farms that have been in their families for generations. The down side is that the winters are harsh, the summers are short and filled with bugs, and small farms are on the wane, which is why the Northeast Kingdom has Vermont's highest poverty rate. Even I, whose license plates are the right color, feel like an outsider there. I come from Vermont's most affluent county, educated and working in a well appointed school, my daughter takes ballet and piano lessons, and I can choose from an array of culturally diverse restaurants whenever I want to. The parts of the Northeast Kingdom I saw yesterday didn't even have a movie theater. On the other hand, we found plenty of good food, pleasant people, and what I was really looking for -- miles and miles of beautiful solitude.

This is from the Lewis Pond Overlook. You can see into New Hampshire and Canada from here on a clear day.

Lewis Pond

This is the famous author with her feet in Lewis Pond. I include this photo because two minutes later, I was dancing up and down freaking out and screaming because I saw that a bloodsucker had attached itself between the toes of my right foot. No, honestly, I calmly leaned down, plucked it off, looked at it wiggling in my fingers for a moment, and then placed it gently back into the water saying that unfortunately, I was not an appropriate warm-blooded host. (Okay, I'm a fiction writer, in case you hadn't noticed. The truth is probably  somewhere in between.)

More Lewis Pond

Moose Bog. The greenery is a floating mat of peat moss covering an old pond. When you walk on it, it ripples around you. The only open water left is in the middle.

The boardwalk across the bog

The trail to Moose Bog

Blueberries along the trail. Yes, I ate every one after taking the photo. The big one in front was REALLY good.

Black Spruce

A really cool shot on my way out


  1. Given that I hail from the Northeast Kingdom, I can attest to its innate beauty. There are lots of changes happening in my hometown (Derby Line), and it saddens me greatly because the changes are good. Streets we used to walk into Canada are now gated or have other obstacles to deter would-be border jumpers... traffic gets backed up getting to the border patrol station, at times. A store that has been there for what seems like forever (Caswell & Rourke) was purchased by some out of towner, and he wants to tear it down and turn it into a mini-mart and a gas station.... Derby Line doesn't *need* another mini-mart or gas station... not to mention that it will clog up Main Street traffic even worse than it already gets from the delays heading into the border station. :(

    I still consider the Northeast Kingdom my home, even though I haven't lived there in nearly 30 years... nowhere on earth do I feel more at peace than when I'm there.

    So glad you got to enjoy the beauty of the NEK, Kari Jo!

  2. I forgot that you hail from the NEK, Kristy! It certainly is a magical place. We were north and east of Island Pond, way out there in moose country.

    I haven't been to Derby Line in a while, but I can imagine the havoc that the new border laws have caused. A friend of mine was up there several years ago, and she accidentally crossed the border looking for a parking spot. When she turned around to go back down the street, border patrol nailed her and gave her a really hard time, especially because she didn't have a passport on her.

    And then there's that old theater that spans the border -- audience in the US, stage in Canada. We used to joke about needing a customs booth back stage. Now there probably is one, and heaven help anyone who comes in the front door and leaves by the stage door. Changes like these are so sad.

    Poor old store!