The visitor whisking along Vermont's highways would conclude that an industry so tied to the soil and to livestock as farming would be 'well-rooted and stabilized.' As a matter of fact, fundamental as farming is, it is fickle...nothing about it is so constant as change... Charles Edward Crane

I've been off of the winding Vermont road for almost a month, concentrating on a stint of teaching and my Art of Action "Elements of Place" series. It's good to be back behind the wheel with my well-worn sketchbook on the passenger seat.

Before my hiatus I had navigated a jaunt from Rutland to West Rutland, Castleton, Middleton Springs, Wallingford, and Clarendon (see previous postings). This could have been a neat circular trip, but it started in an erratic way: leaving Castleton, where I had given a lecture on my painting at the college, I had to make a quick decision whether to take two lane local Route 4a east, or the high speed bypass Route 4. I chose speed, and regretted it immediately. Since our highways don't have many exits I was forced to keep driving towards Rutland.

My eyes darted yearningly across the Otter River that lay on my right and towards parallel Route 4a, as though it was the yellow brick road and I just had to see up close what wonders lay along it (especially that mysterious large dairy farm that I had driven by so many times on my way to the Vermont border.)

So I exited the highway as soon as I could and backtracked towards Castleton again along the smaller road, thereby reaffirming the wisdom of Lesson Number One as I show myself Vermont: to hell with saving time.

The dairy farm, which had an amazing curved metal roof (see the painted photo above) didn't disappoint, and neither did the sad but picturesque tumbledown barn further along the way, or the long blue shadows cast by the overpass as I drove into West Rutland.

I have to admit, I came close to Ira but didn't exactly drive through it, let alone get out and walk the streets of a town named for legendary "Green Mountain Boy" Ira Allen. I'll have some more exploring to do the next time I chose the two instead of four lane option.

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