I know I’ve written before about the Common Road in Waitsfield, Vermont on several previous occasions and in several different seasons, but I hope you’ll indulge me for returning their again today. That’s because this morning I’m dreaming of one of my family’s most cherished holiday traditions, which is to get up on Thanksgiving morning and work up an appetite by taking a long stroll.
We begin under the cathedral canopy of branches:
And then pass the abandoned farm equipment, a sculptural pile of rust and metal that wouldn’t be out of place installed in a Soho art gallery:
If we’re lucky, the farm’s pretty spotted cows greet us:
And maybe we’ll find one of late autumn’s treasures like the husk of a milkweed pod:
This is followed by a walk/run/gallop down the hill:
At the bottom of which we arrive at the Skinner Barn. Then there’s always some poking to do around the brook:
By now we’re usually chilly, so we return to the warm car and a drive back to my parents’ home for homemade pancakes.
We’re lucky to have this very special spot for our holiday walk, but of course it is also the kind of family travel tradition I love, because it is transferrable. No matter where you spend your holiday, you can find a place to get outdoors for an hour or two. If you’re in the city, find a neighborhood of lovely historic houses. Stuck in the suburbs? Maybe there is a park with a walking trail. Little ones can get their wiggles out and grownups get a break from sitting around visiting. You might collect leaves or pine cones for your holiday table or use the time away from the hustle and bustle to talk about what you’re thankful for.
If you’re fantasizing about a traditional New England Thanksgiving, I would point out one kind of funny thing to you about Thanksgiving in Vermont. The holiday pretty much always falls during deer hunting season. This means that unless there is enough snow for downhill skiing, outdoor activities are necessarily restricted to well-inhabited (by Vermont standards anyway) roads and byways. Long hikes in the woods are not advisable. And if you’ve got a blaze orange vest, by all means, pack it!
And if the very thought of Thanksgiving with its travel hassles and family togetherness has your undies in a bundle, please check out the post I wrote last year about why holiday travel is worth it.