Friday, November 3, 2017

Plymouth Union

Plymouth Union / 10x10

I had a charmed and lucky childhood - and I know this for sure, even though I can't remember much of it, not specifically.

One thing I do remember is that we had a condo on a small ski mountain in Plymouth Union, Vermont. We went there nearly every weekend in the winters for many years. Only now do I realize what a tremendous amount of work this must have meant for my mother.

At the time, though, it was just fun. We skied, we hung out with friends, and one winter, we lived there. I went to school in Woodstock (this is one of many things that I know happened, but which I can't remember at all).

What I do remember is the landscape, the shapes of the mountains, the curve of the road along the edge of a lake, the spires of the trees, the quality of the light. No events, few people, only a few days here and there. But the landscapes stay with me, and on this trip, welcome me back.

I made this painting in the parking lot of what had been a convenience store and gas station near the foot of Round Top Mountain, where we skied and lived. The store is closed and deserted, as is the RV park next door, which I believe is what I painted.

What I love is the bright flame of yellow, golden, translucent leaves shimmering on the trees behind the ones already bare, already wintry. And I love the colors in the field, picking up the golden light of the air and of the trees.

Vermont Country Store

One thing I do remember from my teen years in Vermont is the Vermont Country Store. When we were little, and driving back to Connecticut from Vermont on winter Sundays, we almost always stopped at the Vermont Country Store. Our parents let us get a small bag of penny candy. Now, I realize that that candy was not only a treat but also a way to keep us quiet for most of the drive. (You can see the current candy room in the photo at left).
At that point, the Vermont Country Store was just one building, and not very large. The double doors opened into a not very well lighted space, longer than it was wide. The floor boards were dusty and worn, and creaked underfoot. The candy counter was off to the left, and you had to tell a man behind the counter what you wanted, and he would put it in a little brown paper bag and let you know your total. My favorites were Mary Janes and Squirrel Nuts, candies I believe I'd avoid now because I'd be so sure they'd pull my fillings out.

These days, the Vermont Country Store is a powerhouse, with a huge catalog, a big website, and a building that is a conglomeration of additions to that first, original building.

When I arrive, the large parking lot is jammed. Dozens of people - mostly men - sit in chairs and on benches on the front lawn. Inside, the store is crowded with goods, and people, and their dogs, who apparently are welcome.

The candy area is now a whole room, and you serve yourself, portioning sweets into that same small brown paper bag. The store goes on from there, with an apothecary room full of soaps and makeup and cure-alls, a sleepware area, a kitchen area and heaven knows what else. It was crowded, and it was hot, and it was emotionally jarring. I bought some candy for Peter, and took my leave.


Dog of the Day
Can you see him? He's sitting on the stone wall, just to the right of the sign.

A Final Thought

"Listen! The wind is rising and the air is wild with leaves.
We have had our summer evenings - now for October eves!"
- Humbert Wolfe

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