BOOKS CHECKED OUT | By JANET CLAPP
Looking at license plates as you go about your daily business, you will probably spot at least one from out of state. Vacationing or weekending here among the Green Mountains and the sapphire lakes entices many to become permanent residents of Vermont. How do they make the move here? How do they adjust? What do they learn? The newcomers aren’t the only ones who have stories to tell. Working and playing here, no matter the person’s geographic origin, can lead to entertaining, and sometimes thoughtful memoirs.
By Ellen Stimson
After an idyllic romantic weekend in Vermont, and many fun return trips with her children, Stimson and family uproot from her native Midwest. “If you’ve ever taken a kid to the beach … or Disney World … and had to explain, at the end of a long, happy, sunny day, that we can’t always be on vacation, then you are one step ahead of me. My family and I thought it might be fun to make that actually happen … living in one of those beautiful places where we vacationed and maybe make a living there, too.” House hunting, moving, and attempting to run a general store are the challenges Stimson faces, and she recounts it all with humor. Still happy in “Vermont — a little blue state known for its hippie ice cream, beautiful views, and liberal politics,” she recently wrote a sequel titled “Good Grief: Life in a Tiny Vermont Village.”
‘Bag Balm and Duct Tape: Tales of a Vermont Doctor’
By Beach Conger, M.D.
When Dr. Conger moved to Vermont in 1977, what appealed “was the idea of Vermont. A mysterious, faraway wonderland to get to which, when we went there from our home in Westchester County, we had to drive forever along narrow, winding roads that seemed to lead straight to nowhere, and then, when they got there, kept on going.” He soon learned that medical school and previous experience did not teach him how to be a country doc. He relates tales of his patients and small-town life. Sprinkled throughout the book are humorous sections headed “Serious Reader Note,” in which he expounds upon such topics as vitamins, worry, and being a physician. “Asking questions is a very tricky part of the doctor-patient relationship. The doctor needs to ask questions in order to obtain vital information, but at the same time does not want to provide an opportunity for the patient to get too talkative, thereby getting into a situation where the doctor might lose control of the conversation.” For more Conger, check out “It’s Not My Fault: Tales of a Vermont Doctor” and “It’s Probably Nothing: More Adventures of a Vermont Country Doctor.”
‘Taproot: Coming Home to Prairie Hill’
By Martha Leb Molnar
A longtime New Yorker, Molnar “needed to leave the formal life of schedules and crowds, to wander out of the hedged garden into an unkempt meadow, to create a life with silence at the center of it, a vast silence surrounded by volumes of empty air. I needed to connect to my younger, wilder self.” Her husband also wanted change, so together they searched for the perfect spot to build a home. As they settle in, Molnar observes the nature around them where they “set in motion the transformation of a Vermont hill, its return to its original self. And we began our own transformation along with the land. Perhaps we too are reverting to what we once might have been and what we are meant to be again.”
‘Out of the Woods: A Memoir of Wayfinding’
By Lynn Darling
When her only daughter heads off to college, widowed Darling moves to her off-the-grid vacation home to figure out her life. She must cope with loneliness, disease, and the decline of her elderly mother. In this introspective memoir, discovering her true identity becomes entwined with her attempts to find her way in the Vermont woods. ”I fell out of my own map … .But whichever way we choose, we come to rely on the sameness of our days, on the fact that for years at a time the road ahead looks much like the road behind, the horizon clear, the obstacles negotiable. And yet from time to time we stumble into wilderness.”
‘Vermont Wild: Adventures of Vermont Fish & Game Wardens’
Written by Megan Price, stories by Eric Nuse
In unadorned language, Price presents Nuse’s amusing but true stories of life as a Vermont fish and game warden. Reading this book is like listening to an old timer by the woodstove telling tall tales in the general store. There’s the time Nuse is driving along and the baby raccoons he is transporting escape inside his truck. “This one was skittering along the top of the back seat, bobbing his head up and down, trying to get a fix on the passing scenery. Maybe he felt like a raccoon rocket jockey, with the trees moving so fast before his eyes.” And the time he ends up playing hide and seek in a corn patch with a hungry black bear. And the time… well, you’ll have to read the book yourself, and volumes two and three for more anecdotes.
For newcomers and longtime Vermonters, the Rutland Free Library has the books above and many more about the Green Mountain State. What are your favorite books about Vermont life?
Janet Clapp is an adult services librarian at Rutland Free Library.