Brattleboro and the Green Mountains (A Bit of homesickness for the PNW)

I’m gazing out the window at the bridge that crosses the Connecticut River and divides Vermont from New Hampshire. Behind the bridge is a small mountain, not unlike the rolling hills and mountains that make up Vermont. Since I’m a newcomer, I don’t even know the name of the mountain.

Photo by John Howard on

While I knew Vermont is comprised of mountains which gave it the name, “Green Mountain” by the founder Samuel de Champlain, I expected the southeastern portion of the state, a river valley, to be flat. It’s not. And it’s a miracle at all that towns and cities have been built amongst these small mountains and rolling hills. It reminds me of cities built in the folds of a giant’s skin.

Since I come from the West Coast, my idea of mountains are high ranges that appear on the horizon and not within a half a mile of my point of view. I miss Mount Rainier which hovers like a ghost over the Puget Sound Region. And I miss Mount Baker, one of Mount Rainier’s sisters–the other being Mount Saint Helen’s.

Last week I woke up one morning thinking I was going to visit West Beach on Whidbey Island. Then I reminded myself of the 3,000 mile train trek that brought me to Vermont. The adjustment to living in the Northeast poses challenges for me. Yes, this is part of the US, but it feels foreign in some ways. Every state has its own culture and lifestyle. It would be foolish for me to think that Vermonters are just like Washingtonians enjoying the natural world; when clearly the climate, attitudes, and cuisine is not similar to Washington State. (I don’t know anyone in Washington (outside of the Indians) who eats ferns).

For one thing, Vermont is mostly white people; and mostly older white people whose families have been in Vermont for several generations. The history of this region travels back to the 1600s and sadly, the northeast saw the first genocide of Indians (Native Americans) so that’s an ugly reminder of the first European contact in what would become the Americas. At least the current generation of Vermonters are kind folk. Although I’m waiting for signs sporting, “Indian Lives Matter” to pop up on yards and storefront.

At first, I made the mistake of comparing Brattleboro with its charming brick Victorian buildings to Port Townsend, Washington. The two communities do share a love of fine and performing arts. There is a hippie culture in both communities, and the communities both boast food coops. But that’s where the comparisons end.

Port Townsend has the ocean and sandy beaches. Brattleboro has the strange mountains (which would qualify only as foothills in the Pacific Northwest). While Vermonters see the mountains as the view, I feel like the mountains are obstructing my view. I would however, like to see more of Vermont, as well as, take a journey to Maine. Ironically, researching Maine is what led me to Vermont. But I wonder if Maine is the state where I would rather reside. After all Maine sports a rugged coastline and views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Vermonters ask me why did you come to Vermont? I don’t have much clarity about this at the moment. Dealing with homesickness for the Pacific Northwest and the plight of finding a permanent home (or even a home to get me through several months) has caused brain fog for me. The original reason I came to Vermont (and endured over 60 hours on Amtrak) was to work with animals, especially dogs. My mission is to start a holistic retreat center for dogs. It may or may not be in Vermont.

I don’t know what the future holds for me. I jumped into a void. The Vermont in the YouTube videos is not the same Vermont staring at me through this window. The charming travel videos didn’t mention the drug and homeless problem in Brattleboro. It did not mention the car traffic and weak public transportation system. Yes, Amtrak and Greyhound travel to this destination, but it’s still not as easy as you think to connect. The train heads south early in the morning and returns in the evening. And if you miss the train, you need to wait until the next day or beg someone for a ride.

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. I know moving to a new place requires adjustments, especially when that new place is 3,000 miles away from a state where I spent the majority of my life. But I must be here for a reason. Why would an introverted homebody like myself get on a train and travel across the US? If you told me two years ago that I would have done that, I would have laughed. And at the moment, I feel like I’m having an out-of-the-body experience. I feel exhausted and my plans derailed the day before I boarded the train.

When a friend and I visited a metaphysical shop in Mount Vernon, Washington, a psychic-medium told me that he didn’t recommend me traveling to Vermont. He warned me that it would be rough. This sent me into a tailspin because I had already sent my belongings in a Relo-Cube to Brattleboro and I couldn’t get a refund for my train tickets. And damn, that psychic was right, even if my friend tells me nothing is cast in stone.

So, I’m here in Vermont. I arrived during stick and mud season (yes, the state has a 5th season). But with spring starting to blossom here, hope blossoms with it. This reminds me of a song by the Wailin’ Jennys called “You are Here.”

Here’s a link to the song,

I’ll end my musings with that.