Monday, July 8, 2013

“My” Vermont Culture

If you read my “Culture of Philofaxy” post in April 2012, you know all about subcultures and what one is and how it is comprised.  So as not to repeat everything that was said there about subcultures, I’ll let you head over to that post for any further clarification.  From this point forward, I will assume you know what I mean when I refer to the subculture.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you will know that I love, love, love the state of Vermont.  I have always been a huge fan of New England, ever since my first trip to New Hampshire in high school—the hills and mountains, the fall colors (it was fall when I went), the general outdoorsy feel of it all.  It’s just so me.  My one goal in high school was to eventually live somewhere in New England, New Hampshire specifically.  That was not meant to be for several reasons, at least up to this point in my life.  But upon meeting my husband and learning that his family vacations every year in Vermont, that allowed me at least some New England every year.

So during our visit this year, I thought a lot about what it means to be a vacation-Vermonter.  My one-week a year there (sometimes an additional autumn weekend thrown in) is much different from the lives of those who live there year-round.  My nephew has said that he does not want to live in Vermont for the simple fact that it would not be “Vermont,” meaning that if we all lived there, it would not hold the same special feel that it does as vacationers there.  He is very right about this.  I could, however, still see myself living there, probably because it would fulfill the dream I have had for so long.  But I wanted to look at our annual vacations there in terms of cultural values and traits.  Following the layout I used in the Philofaxy post, here’s what I have come up with:

Background
My husband’s aunt owns a cabin in the town where we vacation.  This is how “Vermont” got started.  Every year, several (about 30) family members visit during the same week—it’s a family reunion of sorts.  It started off with a small number of people, but as the kids grew up, girlfriends and boyfriends, then husbands and wives, and eventually children were added to the mix.  Then, friends started coming (one has been coming for so long he has been inducted into the family).  Then relatives of the married-ins started coming.  In all, we rent at least two houses around the lake, making a total of three houses occupied by one large family.  In our house, there are three subfamilies—my husband and me (including our mothers), his sister and family, and my sister and family.  Each house holds more than one subfamily.  Each house does its own thing for breakfast and sometimes lunch.  Day events will depend on the day and the weather; sometimes we’ll do something as a group, sometimes we’ll do something on our own.  Eventually, at some point during the day, we all meet at the cabin for some lake fun—swimming, kayaking, canoeing, eating, drinking, and relaxing.  Dinner is an entire family affair.  Each house hosts dinner two nights out of the week, and everyone attends.  So for dinner, we prepare a meal for about 30 people.  It’s a lot or work, but it’s a lot of fun.

We are not the only family to vacation in this particular town.  It is better known as a ski resort town, but there’s a lot to do in the summer as well, especially if you’re close to the lake.  For the most part, those of us who vacation in this area are from the Northeast—New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, etc.  However, some come as far away as Delaware or Virginia, some of our family members included.

Shared Traits Among the Community
Those of us who vacation in this small town are not usually from Vermont, though you will meet many locals.  You will come across many different state license plates, and there is an array just within our family alone.  We all love outdoorsy activities, some more than others, but we all hang out outside for the most part.  We enjoy relaxation and a chance to spend time with family members we wouldn’t otherwise see on a regular basis.  So not only is this a vacation, but it’s also an opportunity to reconnect with family.

Beliefs
  • As a community we believe in the power and happiness of family togetherness.
  • We believe that a week at the lake can relax you and take you away from the stress of the daily grind.
  • We believe that maple bacon can make us happy.
  • We believe that a maple creemee can satisfy.

Practices
  • We relax.
  • We read.
  • We do surf the Internet in the evenings but we rarely watch TV.
  • We swing in the hammock.
  • We canoe, kayak, swim, joke, and have general outdoor fun.
  • We barbeque.
  • We drink.
  • We eat, eat, and eat some more.
  • We have lazy mornings, lazy afternoons, and semi-lazy evenings.
  • We stay up late.
  • We search for moose that we never seem to see.

Values
  • We value a good cup of morning coffee.
  • We value one morning of crisp bacon.
  • We value a good meal in town.
  • We value a grocery store run for ice for the cooler, which is always kept on the deck.
  • We value a cold beer or soda.
  • We value a juicy burger.
  • We value other meat meals besides a burger.
  • We value together time.
  • We value alone time.
  • We value day trips.
  • We value creamy maple creemees.
  • We value canoe trips to buy said maple creemees.
  • We value Vermont t-shirts, hats, bumper stickers, and in my case, mugs.
  • We value crossing the state line on our way up.
  • We value feeling sad upon leaving the state and vacation behind.

Traditions and Rituals
  • We engage in conversation.
  • We make daily trips to town, most often to the grocery store.
  • We visit the Vermont Country Store.
  • We take the time to ride the alpine slide/coaster.
  • We barbeque almost daily.
  • We watch a beautiful fireworks show.
  • On our last night together, we have leftover night where we eat any leftovers from our group meals.

I’m sure this quick overview doesn’t really cover everything we value and hold dear about our vacation, but it’s a start.  And while I may not be living there full time, I’m hopeful that one day we can at least have a vacation home there.  In the meantime, I’m very glad and thankful to have at least this one week a year to enjoy.

6 comments:

  1. I love this! I just came back from a big family weekend at our lake - so many of the same values and practices!

    And, had maple bacon for the first time this weekend. OH.MY.GOD. Yum :)

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    1. Thanks, J! I figured you would have similar practices at your lake. Maple bacon ALMOST makes regular bacon pointless. Almost. ;)

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  2. This is great! I can see why you look forward to this week all year! MMMM maple creemees sound yummy!

    And - I am confirming that I WILL be waiting at your driveway next year - helmet for the random rocks and tarp to keep me dry on the roof rack? It's all set - lol!

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    1. Maple creemees are SO yummy! The requirement is at least 3 during the week. ;-)

      Bring a cushion for the roof rack!

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  3. Feeling like I need to be in one of these families and need to do the Vermont thing every year - it sounds like bliss :-)

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