Friday, July 23, 2021

Sticking Close to Home in Vermont

July 9 & 10, 2021                                         Most Recent Posts:
Saint Johnsbury, Vermont                         Out and About in Vermont
                                                                         Arrived in Vermont - Whoo Hoo!!

IMG_6555Over the week-end,  I stayed close to home.

On Friday I visited St. Johnsbury’s Emerson Falls which is at the local Hydro plant but they have not taken any advantage of the falls. There is no trail and they are very hard to see.  It’s a shame.   The first look I had was through the trees and that’s the only view I got of the long falls.  They sure look lovely through the trees.

I nosed all around and found this view further up from the side.  This is not the area I saw through the trees.




Then I managed to get up even further and walk out on the end of whatever this concrete thing was and take a selfie of the river before it went over the falls on its way to the hydro plant.



After this not so successful falls search I went to find the Municipal Forest.

I’d never heard of “Municipal Forests” before but it seems many towns in Vermont have them.  They are as they say, a forest, owned by the town, with walking trails throughout.  I think it is a wonderful idea for keeping some public wilderness available for residents.  The Saint Johnsbury Municipal Forest is 110 acres.   It was hard to get a good picture of the posted map with the glare of the sun.

I started out at “you are here” of course and headed up the black trail known as the logging road.  It is clear that this land has been logged but that was quite a while ago I learn from the history.

When I ran out of trail I retraced my steps and took the red trail off to my right.  The highest point in the Forest is 920 feet and in winter would overlook the town and the river but it is green summer green.  There are no views.


The trails pass through Norway Spruce, white pine, cedar and hemlock as well as deciduous trees.   The paths are flat in some spots but mostly short and some steep hills.  A stream flows through.


The address of the Municipal Forest is Almshouse Road.  When I read that, I wondered if they’d had a home for the indigent here.  I found out that Seventy two acres of this land used to be the Almshouse town farm that enabled the poor to work on the farm in exchange for room and board.  Now isn’t that a smart idea?  Why don’t we have such things now for our homeless?




In 1922 the Saint Johnsbury Women’s club started a reforestation project on the land that was no longer farmed.  The first year white pines were planted and in successive years 20,000 trees were planted each spring.  These are the current forest trees, some nearly 100 years old now.  What a great thing, to plant 20,000 trees a year!



After walking the red trail to the yellow trail to the top of the land and finding no views, I came back down the red trail almost to the beginning and turned off on the blue trail to head down to the river.


The river section was wet and over grown but walkable.


And I was rewarded with several views of the Moose River which flows right behind my site.  It looks bigger here.





When I got home, it was the same river I could see from my bedroom window.
I just love it!  I hear it singing all day and all night.


On Saturday it was back to the Farmer’s market where the produce is fresh and lasts an entire week without fading.  More tomatoes.


More greens and broccoli


This vendor sells the most delicious focaccia bread.  It is way too large for me to eat alone so I’ll have to give some away.


Wish I’d taken this picture before I took a slice out of it for lunch.  It was very pretty as you can mostly see.


After my visit to the Farmer’s Market, I put my purchases in the car and took a walk around town.


Pretty substantial building for a coffee shop.




As I walked by these interesting buildings, I realized I should have gone to the Saint Johnsbury Welcome Center first and gotten an historic tour map so I’d know what I was looking at.  But the buildings were interesting even without knowing.  They seem to like big buildings running around corners.



Love the clock which was keeping correct time.



First time I’ve seen anything other than & Sons.  About time.


Love this little ad on.  Wish they’d been open when I came by.


Three buildings were of special interest to me.  The first was the bookstore I talked about in a previous post.  I love independent books tores. 

The second is the Saint Johnsbury Athenaeum built in 1871 and recently fantastically restored.  It is the town library and what an elegant one it is with its upstairs Lecture Hall, original woodwork and stenciled ceiling.  There is an art gallery inside which is home to a collection of Hudson River School originals.  No photography.  I learned that this National Historic Landmark is the oldest art gallery in the country in its original setting.


I took one step in side and this is what I saw.


IMG_6591Those are wooden floors not a striped carpet.

Isn’t it amazing?




The restoration was fabulous.  I could have stayed all day.


On down Main Street I passed a number of impressive churches.

Grace United Methodist Church.  I later learned it has a window by Louis Tiffany in the south wall.  Should have picked up the walking tour brochure.  tsk tsk


St Andrews Episcopal church 1878.  This looks seriously “New England” to me.

I wasn’t able to get an unobstructed view of the North Congregational Church due to all the trees and my wide angle lens.  Also built in 1878, it looks like the Congregationalists had a wealthy congregation.  The church is huge.

I’d noticed in driving around New England previously that Congregational churches were very common.  I’d not seen them any where else.


I walked around the church to see the architectural details.




I’d love to see the inside but the doors were not open.


Walking around the side I had my back to what turned out to be full scale Chartres Labyrinth in their side yard.


I love labyrinths!  We had a classical one mowed into our lower field on the farm.
It had been many years since I’d check the World Wide Labyrinth Locater on line to see if there were any in the areas I was visiting.  But now one has just turned up.  How great!


A labyrinth is not a maze.  There is one way in and one way out.  It is a contemplative walk to the center for meditation and back out again into the world.


I walked it slowly, thoughtfully.  It felt wonderfully calming and peaceful.  Many thanks to the Congregational Church, which has become my 3rd favorite building in town, for bringing this practice back into my life.  Seems the perfect thing to do again next Saturday after visiting the Farmer’s Market since I can easily walk back up here.


Two additional things of interest I saw on my walk back to Ruby.   I’d never seen a Police Pick up.  Have you?   Maybe in Montana?  But in Vermont?  But why not?   Gotta love it.

As of July 22nd Vermont had the highest number of people vaccinated of any state.  They also have the 2nd lowest number of deaths from covid.  Could there be a connection?  Only Hawaii has fewer deaths.    Is this why?  Walk in vaccination.  No questions.  No charge.

At this point, I’m 1/3rd of the way through my month here and haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of all I want to do.
I’m also going to have to post faster.  I’m already nearly 2 weeks behind again.

Next post, 6 state parks in one day!  Whew!!


  1. I could set up residence among all those books!

    1. Boy me too and especially in such a gorgeous building.

  2. Secondhand Prose! Love it!

    Virtual hugs,


    1. I have to remember to try to go back when they're open and go inside Judie.

  3. Beautiful place to spend a month in the heat of summer!!! It is cool and damp in Acadia, but looks like it will be drying up soon. Eagle Lake Carriage Road is closed to everything so we made the long hike, over the bubbles to get to Conners Nubble...the blue berries are as wonderful as ever!!! Your photos are great...thanks for sharing��

    1. Hi Nancy and Bill. Are there any other carriage roads closed? We are in Ellsworth for 2 weeks and would like to hike Acadia. It’s been so crowded we’ve stayed away.

    2. How did I not remember you two were in Acadia? The memory is getting worrisome. I have such wonderful memories of the Bubbles and Connor's Nubble with you guys those years we were there together. Blueberries aren't ripe here yet. Enjoy some for me.

    3. All the carriage roads except the Eagle Lake Carriage Road are open. But be warned...the parking fills 8am and the island is BUSY!!!! We are at hiking trailheads by 6:30am. Blueberries are actually wanning. The early heat apparently started the season early.

  4. Lovely! I love the library and that labyrinth. So interesting that pretty much that very day I wrote to you about the labyrinth finder. Lovely woods too and your bedroom view is hard to beat. New England summer sounds great!

    1. That's one of those woo woo things that you and I do with Fair frequency. Have you found a labyrinth near you? It has definitely been a great summer here so far. Wish you were here!

  5. Lovely town. I really want to go there after seeing your photos!

    1. It is a sweet Town Jeannie and I'm off to the farmers market in just a bit. Don't know if there's a TT park anywhere near here though.

  6. That library is elegant and looks very old. The churches are beautiful. I like the old Episcopal church. How cool that you found a labyrinth! Love all the water! The farmer's market looked nice- I love them. We went to one yesterday but you wouldn't have liked it. It was mostly crafters and hardly any produce. I still have yet to have a really good tomato. Have fun! XXXOOO

    1. The farmers market had really great tomatoes last week and virtually none this week. I was really sorry I hadn't bought more.

  7. Nothing better than the smell of old books. There would have to be a search party sent out to find me if I went in that store. They'd be dragging me out after they found me too.

    1. Definitely wish they had been open when I went by. I love their name. What's the best book you've read lately Paul?

    2. "The Cellist" by Daniel Silva. Don't hate me because I read it on my Kindle. ;c)

  8. Such wonderful architecture in New England. That library is incredible, especially those hardwood floors! Can't imagine the labor that went into it.

    1. I was so happy Laurie to see that they had restored this beautiful building. I wonder what it looked like before and who financed the restoration. It was so beautifully done.

  9. One of my closest friends, Jeanne, who you may remember from many times I have mentioned her on the blog, lives in Dorset, Vermont. Her husband is a forester who is wealthy enough that most of his work is volunteer work for the various forests throughout Vermont. Have learned much about the timber history of that state. One of the most fun things you can do is find all the old stone fences hidden among the forest. Keep your eye out for them, from times when almost the entire state was cleared for agriculture. Lots of climate related changes going on there with some diseases and bug infestations and loss of native trees being quite concerning. I love Vermont, at least from the time I spent at Jeanne's place in October of 2014. So looking forward to visiting again next year when we head cross country on the northern side.

    1. I will keep an eye out for them Sue. Thanks for suggesting it. I usually notice old stone walls since they are all over Virginia as well and for the same reasons.

  10. What incredible buildings. Worth visiting just to see the library. Churches and labyrinth also very cool. Sounds like you're enjoying yourself.

    1. Definitely enjoying myself Lynne. Especially the cool weather. It was a great day experiencing this little Vermont town.

  11. What a sweet town! Coffee shop, farmers' market, gorgeous old library, cool little shops, and even a labyrinth! That's my favorite kind of travel, having nature right out the front door and a lovely little town right next-door. And a site right on the water? It doesn't get any better. You made a great choice!

    1. You've done a great job of listing all the things that I have really loved about this spot Laurel. It does feel like a lucky great choice. Hope my next month choice is as good.

  12. The waters are very soothing. And I'm always fond of spiral stairs.

    1. One of the things I loved most about the library was the spiral stairs William.

  13. I love your nature photography, Sherry, but I really love these pictures of these beautiful buildings. I feel like I am there. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. You are very welcome Pam. Glad you liked the buildings. Thanks for your comment.

  14. As is this town isn't cute enough, that library is outstanding. I do love the idea of municipal forests and trading work for a place to live. What a delightful place to be.

    1. I wish we would do things like that for the homeless and give them something worth while to do in exchange for somewhere to live.

  15. What lovely old buildings! The library interior reminds me of the Carnegie library that was my favorite place in the Iowa town of my growing up years. Glad you have found such a pleasant and interesting place to be for a month.

  16. We have been in Vermont once, I think we missed some of the good spots:)

    1. I'd only been to the COE here in Vermont before and am really glad I came back. How are you guys and what are you up to? Good to hear from you.

  17. Saw your mushrooms and thought you'd be delighted to know that a friend took home the chicken-of-the-woods shroom from my backyard, soaked it in salt water, then ate some and froze the rest!

    1. Lucky friend although I don't know how to cook them but they are gorgeous. I assume they are still growing off of the roots of a tree that was cut down. Wonder if it was an oak.

  18. It’s great you got to explore the area around the river, so now when you look out your window at your river, you’ve made its full acquaintance, and can picture everything that’s going on beyond your window’s view.
    Municipal forest - don’t know why I find that name so comical! A municipality is just a designation like city or state, but it sounds so much more bombastically OFFICIAL (though I suppose that’s all in a day’s work in the ‘””“Northern Kingdom”””), or maybe it’s the contrast between the the two ideas (at least in my head), like “jumbo shrimp” or something. Well, wow, turns out this whole TOWN is quite municipal! Must have had some very prosperous town fathers (and mothers [and DAUGHTERS, ha ha!]). What wonderful buildings, especially that splendid library! (didn’t see a card catalog anywhere, but assume they must still use one; a computer would be an aesthetic and historical offense). I love the funny little doorway of Secondhand Prose, stuck onto the side of the big building like a barnacle; why, I wonder? And then the labyrinth appearing magically!

  19. Those bright fungi are so pretty!! Look like cartoons :-) What a beautiful place to explore with a healthy farmers' market and lovely downtown nearby. I hate when I forget a map or brochure before I venture into an area I want to know more about. That library may be the most beautiful place I've seen in ages!!!! I can smell the books and old wood and feel the peace of being surrounded by all that magic. And a labyrinth too!?!? I so miss having one around for meditation. I'm loving your time in Vermont.


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