The standard for men’s style and culture, Mr. Porter gathered a list of the world’s eight best autumn drives. Needless to say, Vermont received a well-earned mention and Mr. Porter is most eloquent in it’s reasoning why a drive through Mad River Valley really is one of the best drives in autumn. Of course, it helps if you’re driving maybe a British coupe like a Jaguar or MG.
“This is New England boiled down to its rosy-cheeked, Yankee quintessence. The roads are lined with farm stands selling apples by the peck and cider by the gallon. The white, clapboard homes and churches set off the abundance of turning leaves. Your chances of driving fast will be stymied by Volvos and Subarus going at a National Public Radio pace. But at least this will give you the chance to wonder if you haven’t dropped into a Mr John Irving novel. Stop at Warren’s lavishly eclectic Pitcher Inn for reassurance that beneath the prim conformity of the surface, the madness of the Mad River Valley is for real.” - Mr. Porter
The Homer Noble Farm in Ripton, VT was Robert Frost’s summer home from 1939 to 1962. Just down the road from Middlebury’s Bread Loaf Mountain campus, it was a short walk for his regular appearances at the Bread Loaf School of English and the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. Frost spent summers on his property gardening, hiking, tending to his animals, and writing of course. The Middlebury College Special Collections and Archives recently digitized this 16mm film footage (circa 1948) of Frost enjoying his idyllic Vermont summer home. Head to Vimeo to watch it.
My good friends Ursa Major up in the motherland (Vermont) have launched their summer sweepstakes – a year supply of their Essential Face Wipes! I never travel without these wipes, they are deep cleansing, fresh, and good for your skin (no parabens or any of that icky artificial stuff). They’ll be drawing one winner on August 15th so follow the link to enter. And stay tuned because every weekday till then, they’ll be doing a drawing for a 20-pack of wipes giveaway. It’s what I like to call, Christmas in August.
For those of you who didn’t know, author Rudyard Kipling had a passion for Vermont. He first came to the green state in 1892 to visit the family estate of his young American wife, Caroline Starr Balestier. The two had just been married in London and had a baby on the way. Upon arrival in the US they decided to stay and rented a small cottage on a farm near Brattleboro for $10 a month. This was where Kipling would draw up the first sketches for the Jungle Books. Yet when their first daughter was born, the cottage became cramped so they purchased property from Kipling’s brother in law. Kipling then designed and had built a grand Victorian estate. He named the home Naulakha as an homage to his novel of the same name, a collaborative work of fiction with close friend Wolcott Balestier (also a brother to his wife). While living in Naulakha, Kipling wrote some of his best work, including the Jungle Books, Kim, and Captains Courageous. Kipling fondly called the secluded dark shingled house his “ship” which brought him “sunshine and a mind at ease”. He was fascinated by the outdoors and the beauty of Vermont, especially in the fall with the turning of the leaves. The family grew to love the state and may have very well lived out their years there, but tensions in their marriage and conflict between the US and UK seemed to have drove them back to England and they left Naulakha for good in 1896.
In 1993 Naulakha was declared as one of 17 National Historic Landmarks in Vermont. Lucky for us, the Landmark Trust facilitates rental of the property, which comfortably sleeps up to 8. During your vacation you can play tennis on the state’s first court or swim in the Connecticut River. If you’re visiting in winter, why not try skiing in the meadow where the sport was first introduced to Vermont. It’s an estate with a lot of monumental firsts, which is only fitting considering Kipling invented activities like wintertime golf in his time away from writing novels.
Editor’s note: Thanks to James Fox for sending me the video above and reminding me of this incredible property in our home state. The video is by Kate Sears during a video course with The Hills Workshops.
My husband is an avid fly fisherman and this time of year he talk of little else than fishing. I’ve been meaning to pick up the sport so I can join him on his fishing trips, especially when we visit my family near the Battenkill and Mettawee rivers in Vermont. As if on cue, Patagonia sent me their new Tenkara rod along with flies, line, and Yvon Chouinard’s new book Simple Fly Fishing: Techniques for Tenkara and Rode & Reel. Tenkara is a traditional fishing method first practiced in Japan about 200 years ago. It’s primarily used for mountain stream trout fishing. The tenkara rod is perfectly suited for beginning anglers, or advanced fisherman who want to renew their deep connection with the fly fishing experience. Due to its simple design, the tenkara method directs the fisherman’s attention to the movements of fishing vs. wrangling with equipment. The accompanying book, Simple Fly Fishing, makes picking up the tenkara technique a breeze with comprehensive tips on wet fly, nymph, and dry fly fishing. I’m almost done reading the book and ready to take my road on the road. We plan on packing up our new (to us) XC70 most weekends this spring and summer, and I have a feeling many of those will be spent fishing with my new tenkara rod. I’ll be sure to post photos of the experience.