May 2017

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In all of our travels to Vermont and having lived here now for more than two months, we have never been to Burlington. Burlington is Vermont's largest city, recognizing that 1) that is like saying that Maine is the largest state in New England, which is certainly true although it is still far from a large state (hullo, Texas!) and 2) Newport is also technically considered a city, and it's possible to drive from one side of the downtown to another in less than five minutes. But Burlington does indeed have things that one expects of a city, like buildings over three stories and streets arranged into blocks.

Since we had never been, we decided yesterday to visit Burlington for the first time. It's about an hour-and-a-half drive from where we live, but there are no drives in Vermont that aren't gorgeous, so it's all good. We had in mind three big plans: 1) eat some Indian food, 2) ride the Burlington bike path across the causeway, and 3) polish it all off with a meal at Citizen Cider.

Here in the Northeast Kingdom, we are very rural but we aren't entirely backwoods. We have a phenomenal Thai restaurant in Newport and an upscale German restaurant and wonderful hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant in Derby, as well as lots of places offering great local fare. (In Vermont, it typically involves Vermont cheese, maple syrup, beer, or all of the above.) But we don't have an Indian restaurant within an hour-and-a-half of where we live, and since Indian food is my absolute favorite, then this is one of the few things I grieve about leaving Maryland (although the Mexican-Indian restaurant in the mall in Westminster has apparently closed, so I wouldn't have had many options much closer in Carroll County either).

Burlington, being a real city and a college town, has an Indian restaurant, so that's where we went for lunch: Shalimar. They had a Sunday brunch buffet, which we both opted for. It wasn't the best Indian food I've ever had, but it was definitely good enough to satisfy my months now of going without (woe is me, right?), and the palak chole (spinach with chickpeas) was incredible. I could eat a big plate of it now if one were placed before me. And they offered free, self-serve hot tea. Win!

We brought our bikes because Burlington has a famous bike path that skirts Lake Champlain and follows an old railroad causeway smack across the middle of the lake with water on both sides. Come tour with me the land of Bernie Sanders and Ben & Jerry's! )
In other words, the backyard smells like poop. Presumably (hopefully?) that is because one of the neighboring farmers chose today's lovely weather for fertilizing the fields.

Yesterday, Bobby and I rode our bikes along the southern portion of the North Central Railroad trail. We rode over 14 miles (22.5 km), which sounds more impressive than it is, since the NCR trail, by virtue of being a rail trail, is pretty flat. We had never really ridden to the south before--I think we may have walked a short distance once--but found it really enjoyable, with lots of crossings of the Gunpowder River and high ridges. Bobby packed us a picnic lunch, which we ate on a grassy plot alongside the river: egg salad sandwiches on his homemade rye bread (the egg salad made delicious by the addition of his sweet pickle relish), blueberry chevre with crackers, a giant Mutsu apple that we shared, and snap pea snacks (which if you've never had are awesome). He even packed a small jug of "fruit salad": our favorite local shiraz. Good man! :D

We rode NCR about a year ago. Oh the difference a year makes. I was in such pain through the whole of it last year. Even getting on and off of my bike was hard. It hurt. Everything hurt. EVERYTHING. (I'm not exaggerating. It hurt to turn over in bed. It hurt to lay down; it hurt to move.) I constantly find myself thinking about what life was like a year ago and being so fecking grateful to be well again.

The trail, especially the southernmost part, was pretty crowded. I witnessed a head-on collision between a woman and a preteen girl; the woman was trying to pass some people walking--and the trail is not that wide!--it is as wide as would be needed for railroad tracks!--and appeared to swerve right in front of the girl. The woman messed up her bike and claimed to be fine and not upset but then implied blame of the girl by parting with a, "Just be careful next time!" while the poor, stricken girl looked at her father and insisted in a whisper, "She turned right in front of me!" I was directly behind the woman so I got to witness all of this excitement, whispered commentary included. The woman was already covered in grass, which led me to believe that was not her first fall of the day? (She'd come up silently to pass on my left at one point without signaling and startled me, so responsibility didn't seem to be a strong point.) Wow.

Today (the last day of spring break ... waaah ...) was potter-around-the-house day. Bobby is undertaking multiple masonry projects; he has already done a flagstone path in front of the house to match the tiled steps he did last year, he is expanding the front garden beds (to further our quest to have virtually no front lawn to mow; seriously, grass lawns are such a ridiculous waste of space!), and he is doing brick walls around the kitchen gardens in the back. My contributions are more meager: I turned the compost, dug the soil in half of the vegetable garden, and fertilized our newer evergreen shrubs. And I took pictures of some of the flowers in the yard. Whoopdedoo. Click the jump if you're interested.

Lots of Flowers, One of Phil )

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