And so it is. In fact their motto is “A little capital goes a long way.” I looked it up. It’s the smallest state capital in the United States. Fewer than 8,000 permanent residents according to the 2010 Census. My guess is it’s also one of the prettiest.
From what I can see, New England in its entirety is beautiful. It also has the nicest people you would ever care to meet. Our first experience with this was shortly after we disembarked our plane in Manchester, New Hampshire, after a long day of travel last Thursday. Bill had retrieved our luggage. We were walking through the airport, looking every which way but forward. Suddenly I saw that it was too late to stop Bill from running into an airport employee walking towards us. The woman quickly veered out of danger. Instead of being cranky as, say, I would have been, she laughed and told us not to worry because she dodges folks all day long. Altogether nice people, those New Englanders. Even the other night when Joseph unintentionally hit his car door on the car parked in the next spot at Dairy Creme, the driver merely scowled a bit and tossed off a sarcastic “thanks a lot” instead of pulling out a concealed weapon as could possibly have happened in the Wild, Wild West of Colorado!
Montpelier isn’t just a small town; it’s a one-of-a-kind small town. What do I mean? Well, for example, in addition to it being the smallest state capital, it also has the unique honor of being the only state capital in the U.S. without a McDonalds. Without any chains, in fact, save one ubiquitous Subway. Even Montpelier couldn’t escape a Subway.
People fly flags; they sit on their front porches and greet passers-by; they grow magnificent gardens and share their harvest with others; they know their neighbors’ names and the names of their children; they let others go ahead of them in line; the sound of farm programs comes from car radios. Sunday night I was walking with Micah as he rode his trike down the sidewalk near his house. A police car drove by slowly, then came to a stop. Oh oh, I thought. Was I going to get busted because I was carrying a gin and tonic? But no. The cop reached into a folder and pulled out a Montpelier Police Officer sticker and came over to hand it to Micah, who was understandably thrilled. In other words, they are Small Town America at its finest.
Sunday night we went to the park right behind Heather and Lauren’s house because they were hosting a concert. It was the night of Micah’s birthday celebration, and Micah does love him some music. He sat quietly, absolutely enthralled with the band, tapping his hand in absolute perfect time with the music. Perhaps predictably, the music was provided by the Big Bang Bongo Brass Band, a weirdly pleasant combination of bongo drums and trombones (and other brass instruments). Micah — being a percussion fellow himself — asked to join the people dancing just in front of the band. Despite being totally outside of her comfort zone, Heather took him up front to dance. There was Micah hobnobbing with others such as the senior citizen wearing the tie-dyed t-shirt bearing the Bernie For President logo. (Not surpringly, Bernie For President signs are everywhere. This is, after all, Bernie country.) See what I mean? Mayberry with a hippie twist. Altogether delightful.
Yesterday afternoon Bill and I took Joseph with us to tour the Cabot cheese factory. The tour was interesting and the samples were, of course, extraordinary. But the best part was lunch afterwards. Bill asked the Cabot people for a recommendation of a place for lunch. Sarah’s Diner, behind the hardware store, the young woman told him. We walked to the hardware store, expecting to see a diner sitting behind it. Nope. You had to actually walk through an old fashioned, small town hardware store, and the tiny diner was in the back. Two tables and a four-stooled counter. Four or five things on the menu. The owner, Sarah, was all by herself. She took orders and then went behind the counter to cook your food. I was looking around for Aunt Bea.
If it wasn’t for the absurdly long and cold winters and the fact that I can’t get cell or data service for the life of me (although the I must remind myself I have T-mobile and I think they have something like three cell towers in the entire United States), I would find it a pleasant place to live. I still don’t think I would wear a Bernie For President shirt, however, tie-dyed or not.
I could grow used to the maple creemies, though.