I see that this is my 801st post here, so thanks for visiting, posting, thinking with me, challenging me, and onward to new ideas and topics. We leave the Vermont farm we’ve been visiting today (a great idea, Hollister Hill Farm, where it is both an actual working farm where kids can help with farm chores, and a wonderful B&B where we eat hearty breakfasts together and go off to explore) and do the long drive back home. Being in Vermont strangely reminded me of being in India, in this way. Vermont is both the motherland of local food, slow food, care in growing, using, preparing food and a place where at the edges of the roads you see real poverty — and especially in young people: very young couples with kids, kids who look like the runaway/throwaway kids of the East Village in the 1960s and 70s, now with tattoos and clustered around old wooden farm houses, kids who, we learned, do seasonal farm labor — getting by, but with no plan, no path, no income — just a Rasta-like freedom to drop off the grid and still, somehow, survive.
This reminds me of India in that when we were in Rajastan we saw the local hand-dyed fabric industry thriving — to sell expensive clothes to middle class Indians and foreign visitors. The local women can only afford synthetics. The crafts have endured, but as a niche for the wealthy. Here in Vermont craft growing and cooking is thriving anew (not continuing old traditions so much as re-inventing them) but again as a niche for transplanted city dwellers who have chosen to relocate here, or tourists like us. In some way both places are good news success stories — the mallification of the world stops here and in Rajistan — old/new handmade ways are alive as perhaps never before. But only in pockets, only for those who can afford it.
In a way we live in a life of Cable, or the Net — choice — indeed one reason these niche crafts survive is because of the net — you can contact a Vt woodworker to hand make a table for you via his site, and then see it featured in a shelter magazine. This is something to celebrate — but we also do need to be aware of the price — the Indian women in their synthetic prints, the scruffy teenaged parents here — those who don’t know, or can’t afford, the good things that are created right next door. We are the fortunate tourists who get to visit, sample, wonder, and promise to return. They live here.