Mission Impossible: Finding milk at 10PM

Today I was on a reconnaissance mission: Find a town in Vermont for my sister and her family to move to from Vancouver. Ha.

Vancouver: Land of mountains, sea, beaches, city, Starbucks, bike paths, buses, cafes, shopping, shopping, and more shopping. A city where pedestrians take precedence over cars (on some intersections the light turns green for the cars only if a pedestrian is on the sidewalk to activate it.) A city where there are a larger number of bicycles and jogger strollers out on the streets and sidewalks than in all the sheds of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama combined.

Upper Valley of Vermont: Land of mountains, fields, trees, farms, and tiny towns consisting of one street and a post office.

OK, I’m not doing Vermont any justice at all. It is a beautiful state, breathtakingly so in places, and the Connecticut River that cuts through the valley dividing Vermont from New Hamphire is an impressive swath of water. Today we passed highway medians filled with yellow, red and orange black-eyed susans and masses of other flowers, planted and cared for by community-proud residents. There was a field entirely of lupins and sunflowers. White-spired churches, immaculately painted inns and houses and a farmer’s market on the green. A general store whose hardware department you can only enter by squeezing beside the deli cooler, that sells home-baked chocolate chip cookies and chinese tea sets, and whose motto is, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.”

Yes, there are parts of Vermont that are quaint and quirky, but that doesn’t do you much good at 10 PM when you find yourself without milk and that last piece of pie (the blueberries for which you picked yourself earlier that day at one of Vermont’s many P.Y.O. farms) is kinda sticking

in back of your throat. No rambling general store’s going help you now. You outta luck, sista. I guess you could go milk a cow.

Now in Vancouver, at this point one would step out the door, walk approximately 500 feet down the well-lit street to one of the 22 stores still open at this time of night to purchase the much-needed gallon of milk. Should one be so inclined one could also walk a few more feet to join the ever-present (rain or moon-shine) late-night caffeine junkies at one of the 310 Starbucks on this street.

What is sister dear going to do with herself in the Upper Valley of Vermont? Fortunately, there are bike paths and plenty of hiking trails, and once in a while you’ll find a sidewalk to stroll along. And of course, there’s family.

But life will be a very different ballgame from that of Vancouver. No big city life here. No mommy stroller gangs. No Indian-Thai-Ethiopian-fusion restaurants.

Hartford, VT? Blink and you’ll miss it.

Vancouver, British Columbia? You’ll just miss it.

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