A long and amazing story could be told about Zarah Colburn, a boy born on a farm in Cabot, who astonished the world with his uncanny capacity for calculating numbers...He was taken abroad and exhibited in London and Paris, always accompanied by his father, who was just an ordinary farmer and utterly unable to account for the uncanny genius of his son...Charles Edward Crane

I took the left fork on Route 2 coming out of Marshfield through the Cabot flats (a short, narrow stretch of valley that despite being an especially cold microclimate hosts excellent greenhouse businesses, favorite haunts of mine during the gardening season). But today was the first day of hunting season, and a light snow blew across the road as I drove north towards the village.

Cabot is probably the most recognizable place name in Vermont. The cheese factory that's the source of its fame (located prominently on the main drag and painted a jaunty, Willy Wonkish red and white) looks surprisingly small given its prominence in the national food consciousness and importance as a local employer. Cabot Cheese began eighty years ago as one of many local creameries, co-op operations run by area farmers as a way to make a profitable product out of an abundance of milk that would otherwise quickly sour (this was before refrigerated bulk tanks forever changed the economies of dairy farming, and took Cabot and its farmers from a small community operation to absorption by the huge co-op Agrimark.)

The town of Cabot has a busy, compact center that includes its tiny multi-grade school, known for good academics and a thriving music program. Its campus just gained a performing arts center, built in true Vermont fashion: an idea cooked up by enthusiastic parents, a construction bond turned down by town vote, then the vision reborn with fundraising and volunteer effort.

It's a bit hard to believe today, driving past stately homes and a four-square church on the village green, that (according to my friend Martin Johnson, who knows about these things) Cabot was called "little Chicago" in the days of prohibition because of its gambling and moonshine liquor--or at least, that was the rumor in Martin"s hometown of Plainfield about the village of iniquity up the road.

Cabot facts and figures