"Just because your cat has kittens in the oven," the old-timers around here say, "you don't call them biscuits." Meaning that it takes more than just living here to be a real Vermonter.
I accept this, but have not abandoned Vermontishness as my goal. I do my best by buying potatoes at the farmers' market, attending game suppers, buying clothes at the village rummage sale, and shipping gallons of Vermont Grade B (the darkest and most flavorful) maple syrup to friends and family.
But if you're trying to approach true Vermontishness, it's important to look the part. And a big part of that is boots.
When my husband and I were house hunting in Vermont, I was amazed at the boot collections that I saw in people's mud rooms and closets. There were big boots and little boots, light boots and heavy boots, tall and short, leather and rubber, barn and town boots. Why, I wondered, did Vermonters own so many boots?
In Maryland, I remember owning only two pairs of boots, one for hiking, and one for direst winter but still fashionable wear. But once I moved to Vermont, I quickly acquired a couple of pairs of boots with snow-tire treads for walking in the icy woods, and one super-insulated pair for sub-zero days. For semi-dress, snow-and-ice occasions, I bought two pairs--one black, one brown--of fuzzy on the outside, furry on the inside low-heeled boots.
I also own a pair of up-to-the-knee no-nonsense rubber boots for cleaning out the hen house, and a shorter pair of bright blue ones for walking on the rail trail when spring turns the world to slush.
So far, my seven pairs of boots had fulfilled my needs. They were not particularly flattering, but they kept me mobile in most weathers. But global warming has arrived in the north country. Last year we had very little snow or ice, so my fuzzy, furry, low-heeled boots were de trop. I realized that now in Vermont there were many weeks cold enough to justify wearing boots, but not so snowy and icy as to demand the prudent low-heeled, fuzzy kind.
Accordingly, I now own an additional two pairs--one black, one brown--of moderately high-heeled, moderately fashionable boots to wear during the mid-Atlantic weather that seems to have become the norm in Vermont.
The winters may no longer feel so Vermontish, and I know I'll always be a kitten, but with the help of time and appropriate footwear, I'm coming closer to that golden, flaky, biscuit look.