Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A day in Saratoga Springs

I think we're still jetlagged. Because the plan for today sounded perfectly reasonable this morning - but as the day went on, the logic seemed a little less clear.

We needed to address two issues. The first was that we need to buy a car, and our landlord suggested the best place was in Rutland, a mere hour away to the south. So we decided to head out that way, regardless of the dozens of perfectly good car yards between here and Burlington. The second was that Bruce forgot to bring his akubra with him, and Bruce separated from his akubra is a little like Weetbix without milk, toast without Rose's breakfast marmalade. A web search showed that the only akubras within travelling distance were in Saratogas Springs, an hour or so away from Rutland. So, it seemed to make sense: we'd be half way there when we went to look for the car, and that was surely better than importing a hat from Australia. Bruce's other solution, which was to have someone send him his old hat from home, I rejected on the grounds that the only decent place to send that battered hat was to a garbage can (you see, I'm learning to think in American).

The fact that, regardless of the myriad of things that must be somehow organised (finding a desk for me to work on, getting Lizzy a working piano, working out how I will get to the university from here), we were going to travel over 2 hours to find a hat, somehow escaped us.

It was 29 degrees for most of the day. The car yard in Rutland proved largely unhelpful. We got stuck in a traffic jam for most of an hour. As we drove from village to village, there was nowhere to stop for coffee (antique shops galore - no cafes), so the natives in the back seat became more and more restless. And when we got to the shop in Saratoga, they didn't have Bruce's hat in the right size. So, we're home from a trip which took the best part of 9 hours without a car or a hat. In many ways a waste of a day.

And yet. We travelled through beautiful countryside. Vermont and New York are so green. Greener than New Zealand (you thought that wasn't possible?) - the fresh, glossy green that I associate with late spring or early summer, not late summer. The land here feels at once familiar and strange. Sometimes I think, looking at the flowers in the hedgerows and the rolling green fields, that Vermont is like England - but then the villages are inhabited by wooden colonial houses, hung with American flags. Sometimes, looking at the hills - the Adirondack mountains and the hills in the national park - I think this could be New Zealand, but the light is different. While in New Zealand the mountains are either fully visible with sharp detail, or invisible, depending on the weather, these hills are veiled, like blue shadows. Looking at them, I think of Tennyson's "the hills are shadows and they flow".

Some of the villages are so delightful, we longed to explore them - and we will. One place we stopped at, and which we will visit again, was Brandon.

We marvelled at the gothic mansions in Saratoga.

And the town itself was vibrant and rich - fabulous shops, an obsession with racing and the arts:

That's a ballet slipped they're posing with
And, oddly enough, a series of shops devoted to dogs:

On our way home, we took the ferry across the lake, at Ticonderoga.

Our girls, accustomed to the Interislander, were of the view that this was not, in fact, a ferry. 

So, when we think back over the day, it doesn't matter that we came home empty handed. It was a day when we explored a new part of this world, gained a sense of the shape and possibilities of the area south and west of Ferrisburgh, and found places that we will take the time to discover, more fully, in the weeks to come.


  1. Fascinating! You describe it so well Lisa, I felt I was there.

  2. Life is a journey, not a destination.


  3. Bruce without his akubra! No! It's...just wrong!

    Exploring's one of the things I love about travelling; another's finding favourite places. Sounds as if you're getting to do both :^)

  4. You are so philosophical Lisa! But, I am left wondering how Bruce is coping without his hat... please tell us the ending to the story!

  5. Alas, Jacqui - he is still without his akubra. he has ordered one from Australia!