I never thought I’d say this, but jet lag is a marvelous thing when it wakens you at 5.23 to a soft and dewy Vermont summer morning. The sun, which will set your face on fire later in the day, is still gentle, low in the sky. The air feels like silk pajamas, cool against your skin. And, if you’re lucky — like us — to be staying on a farm, there are miles of open road for an early run.
I worry a lot, so of course I’d been fretful about my reentry to the United States. But in the high, green mountains of Vermont, I discovered a region as enchanting and absorbing as any place I’d visited in the world, with its moody skies, and verdant landscapes, and lake framed by misty mountains, and sturdy farm-food culture.
There were swimming holes and cheddar cheese sandwiches, fields filled with wildflowers and grazing cows. And at Shelburne Farms, the handsome Belle Epoque mansion where we stayed — converted to an inn in the 1980s — there were glimpses the Gilded Age and its extravagant luxury, now faded and a little shabby.
The 1,400-acre farm raises vegetables and dairy cows, sheep, pigs, and hens. Alas, not everyone was a willing subject for my camera.
While France is, curiously, a kale-free country, Vermont seems to be producing enough to burn. There were farmers markets filled with fresh produce, including bunches of cruciferous leaves that would make an American in Paris weep. I eavesdropped on several conversations about kale cookery (massage it with lemon juice to break down the fibers). And I ate it. A lot of it.
It appeared in: Eggs Benedict. A cool, crunchy salad scattered with blue cheese and caramelized pecans. With grilled chicken. Folded into a frittata. It wasn’t in the cheeseburger (at least, I don’t think there was any), but it could have been. A little shredded kale slaw? Why not?
My favorite restaurant discovery, by the way, was the Farmhouse Tap & Grill, a Burlington pub dedicated to Vermont produce and beer. The hamburger pictured above was made of local, grass-fed beef and topped with local cheddar cheese, succulent and satisfyingly meaty.
Thanks to your suggestions, we wandered the streets of Burlington, visited the weird and wonderful Shelburne Museum, and hiked a portion of the Long Trail, to the top of Camel’s Hump. The latter almost made my legs fall off, but the view was worth it.
We also went sailing on beautiful Lake Champlain, climbing aboard our vessel, “The Friendship,” just as the sun began to dip into the sky.
The evening was too calm for swift passage, but luckily our boat was equipped with an engine. We bobbed along the calm, rose-tipped waters and watched the sky change from orange, to pink, to lavender, to black.
On our final night at Shelburne Farms, we sipped wine on the porch and gazed past the lawn to Lake Champlain, and, beyond, New York and the Adirondacks. I lowered my gaze for only a second, but it was enough time for clouds to gather and a shower to burst from the skies. And then we saw this:
I like to think it was a good omen.
P.S. Thank you for all your tips, which made our vacation truly remarkable! xoxo
The Inn at Shelburne Farms
Built in 1890 as a country estate, now an inn and restaurant, open from May-October. The working farm has wonderful educational programs for children (and animal-loving adults).
1611 Harbor Road
Shelburne, VT 05482
802 985 8686
Farmhouse Tap & Grill
We loved this casual restaurant so much, we ate here twice.
160 Bank Street
Burlington, VT 05401
802 859 0888
Pretty darn good Neapolitan-style pizza, made with exceptional ingredients, including house-made Italian sausage and mozzarella.
156 Saint Paul Street
Burlington, VT 05401
802 489 5644