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Cathy and I had worried we wouldn’t be accepted, that old-time Vermonters might distrust us newcomers. Indeed, one close neighbor (who had emigrated from Connecticut 20 years earlier) wisely suggested that we wait five years before opening our mouths at Town Meeting, the springtime democracy rite that also marks the start of maple-sugaring season.

But transplants in Vermont are as common as mud; we now make up more than half of the state’s population. Among our friends are a carpenter from Massachusetts, a pair of yoga instructors from New York’s East Village, a lawyer from Washington, a journalist from San Francisco, a landscape painter from Montana—plus plenty more writers, artists, educators, and others scraping out a living in Vermont’s much ballyhooed "creative economy."

With a toddler running the house—and another son, Joe, soon on the way—I rented office space in nearby Brattleboro, a hilly town of 11,740 that sports five independent bookstores, two bike and kayak shops, and one brewpub. The town, which has its own climate protection agency, recently blazed a network of hiking, biking, and skiing trails on more than 400 acres of forest and farmland.

Brattleboro regularly makes national news for its Berkeleyesque politics. Last year, residents voted during Town Meeting to impeach the president and VP; this year they voted to indict them for crimes against the Constitution. (Vermont remains the only state that President Bush hasn’t visited—though it’s not clear whether a pending arrest in one town has had any bearing on his travel plans.)

On working mornings, I bike or drive down along the whitewater West River to the point where it converges with the Connecticut River. From my little work space in Brattleboro I look out over the Connecticut and 1,335-foot Mount Wantastiquet, which Charlie and I recently "summited" on his fourth birthday. On summer afternoons, while listening to the town radio station (formerly pirate, now legit), I might catch a glimpse of antinuclear or pro-impeachment demonstrators—or naked PETA protesters taking advantage of the fact that the town had, until recently, no law against nudity. (After nearly a year of vigorous debate, USA Today announced "KEEP YOUR PANTS ON! . . . Vermont’s infamous naked town bans nudity.")

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  • I love the outdoors - and I hate the lifestyle that we all seem to be leading - captive in our homes…
  • I live in New York City, but have spent much time in Maine and Vermont, and must say your article br…
  • Well written and heartfelt. Three cheers for Vermont!
  • What a great article! I actually shed a tear at the end for the kindness of humans. Rock on Vermont!
  • Fantastic article! Battlebro sounds like a fantastic place for kids to grow up.
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