I have been loving New England. It was almost instant, when we passed some invisible line: people’s voices grew more brash and loud, they spoke their minds, they argued. Yet they were just as kind as everywhere else. I’ve noticed…
…that people have different names for subs up here. In one state it’s a wedge, in the next it’s a grinder… we can never remember what to call it, but it’s all the same long piece of bread. I must say, though, these people know how to make quality sandwiches. We got a wedge (long) and a roll (round) at Vinny’s Deli in Pawling, New Yawk a few weeks ago, and later I stopped back in to inquire about the knife sharpening service advertised on the door. “Do you think you could sharpen my tiny pocketknife?” “Well sweethawt,” Vinny himself replied, “we send all da knives out fa shoppening. But I gotta stone in da back heah, I can do it for ya now.” And he disappeared into the kitchen for a few seconds, leaving me to ogle the old world delicacies–meringue cookies, fine cheeses, sixteen kinds of pickle. He didn’t want payment, and actually told me to “Fuggedahboudit,” which I will relish eternally. I lost the knife the next day, but that’s beside the point. (Heh… point.)
In New York, Zippy was also delighted to find real Italian ices. None of this watery Slushee fakery. His definition is that Italian ice is sold out of a pizza place, comes in a little paper cup, in only one flavor (lemon), and is thick and creamy despite containing no dairy. Also, it’s just called an ice. If it’s labeled Italian ice, he says, it’s not. We even found some in a convenience store (which also sold wedges and rolls, by the way), made by hand, and delicious on a hot day.
Connecticut was as ritzy as we could have hoped. The Berkshires. Tanglewood. Views from the mountains showed off people’s prize second (third? fourth?) homes, golf courses, and extremely fancy private prep schools. I was surprised but relieved to find that people were pleasant to us, since we look the very opposite of blueblood after a few days in the woods. In the middle of post-tropical storm Andrea, we crashed a fine country inn’s private going-away party for a local teacher. I asked the hostess directly if we were OK to come in, since we were soaking wet and pretty rank. But of course. The barkeep hospitably kept us supplied with hot french fries and arugula salads, and though the bill floored me, it was an extremely helpful break amid 24 hours of solid rain.
Massachusetts brought us through a town that proudly labeled all four buildings that used to be post offices. The general store still had a penny-candy with scales, and sold black cherry sodas and birch beer. The tiny lady behind the counter had probably worked there since she was twenty. The village square boasted a giant cheese press that had been used to make a gift for Thomas Jefferson, with milk from every dairy in the county.
Now in Vermont, it’s getting real. The trail corridor has widened so we are again in wildernesses, national forests, rather than tiny ten-foot-wide strips of easement between developments on low slopes. The mountains are big, with lookout towers to climb for 360 degree views on top, and there are pristine, blue lakes nestled among them.
The Subaru ratio is rising. We are in the land of Ben, and of Jerry–the holy grail of hiker treats. But the old-man barbershop in Manchester was closed, much to Zippy’s disappointment: it’s not so much that he wanted a haircut, but the shop had bottles of real Vermont maple syrup lining the walls, with a half-pint for five dollars.
We are looking forward to meeting the Live-Free-or-Die folks, and then, the Mainiacs.
I leave you, however, with this guy:
Aww! What a cute New Englander!