Many people are proud of where they live. There's civic pride from New York City to Los Angeles and everywhere inbetween. I'm sure even folk from Buttlick, Kentucky brag about their town and it's world-class dingleberry collection. Bravo, Buttlickers.
Vermonters are no different.
While we were there we stayed with Hank's mom, who has a house right on the shore of Lake Champlain. Lake Champlain is a perfectly nice lake. Daisy had a heck of a time fishing there and we even ate a few of the undersized fish she caught. I'd go so far as to say that it's a good lake. It is not, however, a Great Lake.
There are only 5 Great Lakes in the United States and it is a source of great indignation to all Vermonters that their very good lake is NOT one of the 5 GREAT lakes.
"There should be SIX Great Lakes!" the Vermonters will demand.
"Oh, is it the next biggest lake?" you'll innocently ask, "Is it bigger than Salt Lake?"
"Salt Lake?!?!" they'll bluster, "Is NOT a fresh water lake."
Ok, so it's the 7th biggest lake in the U.S. That's a good lake.
And, of course, Vermonters are cuckoo for maple syrup. Don't get me wrong, I like maple syrup, but it just seems like a silly thing to get all riled up about. You start squeezing chocolate chip cookie dough out of trees and then come talk to me. THAT would be something to be proud of.
We went to a country fair in Vermont and there was a Sugar House with all sorts of maple syrup products. Maple pops, maple cotton candy, maple sugar candy, maple dental plans, the works. There was also a big sign showing all the major brands of "maple" syrup and listing the percentage of true maple sap in them. As it turns out, Mrs. Butterworth and Aunt Jemimah don't really have any maple syrup in them. They, along with every other major brand you've heard of, had a big fat ZERO next to them, while the unknown Vermont brand in a Lake Champlain-shaped bottle had 100% maple syrup. Ok ok ok, your special brand of syrup has more maple sap than the ones made by Unilever. Those Buttlickers don't know what they're missing.
Hank grabbed two jugs of maple syrup for us to stick in our already heavy suitcases.
"But, babe, we can buy REAL maple syrup in San Francisco too." I implored
"Not like THIS maple syrup! This is LIGHT AMBER." she explained in the same borderline-hostile tone of voice one would use with a small child who had stuck crayons up their nose one too many times.
So, the next morning we had some pancakes, and I wasn't in the mood for syrup, so I just spread a little butter on them, and my wife asked, "Aren't you going to use any maple syrup?"
"Nah, not today." I answered, realizing as the words left my mouth that I was figuratively crapping in Lake Champlain.
My reply was met with a heavy silence. It was as though I had killed Jesus again. I ate the rest of my breakfast wordlessly.
The last thing that Vermonters are really proud of is how inconvenient their life is. If, for example, you live in Hank's mom's house and you want to run to the store real quick for a carton of milk, you've got to drive 7 miles each way, mostly on dirt and gravel roads. God forbid someone in your house has a dairy allergy and you need soy milk. That's a one hour sojourn to the nearest supermarket in the metropolis of Middlebury. I'm pretty sure this is how the Pilgrims lived.
Everything is far apart in Vermont. It's as though the buildings actually repel each other. This, combined with some crazy nine-story height limit on their structures and a fierce fear of convenience, ensures that nothing is nearby. Ever.
It was, however, pretty and green. I'll bet Kentucky is too though.