The Elmore Mountain Road-or the "Mountain Road," as locals call it-stretches 7.5 miles along the foot of Elmore Mountain connecting Stowe to Elmore, Vt. It passes through Morrisville on the way. I know the road well having lived off it, in some way shape or form, since 1979. It's a 35 mph road; both sides of the road boast the most breathtaking views on the Eastern Seaboard.
As can be expected, rich folks live at the highest elevations of the Elmore Mountain Road.
In October, you can spot the rich folks by the thick blanket of wet "first snow" piled on the roofs of their cars as they drive around town. (It's a local status thing that I believe is manufactured in some cases. Really.) Ok, you're rich enough to have a mountaintop home, but not rich enough to have a garage? Poor folks live in the valleys, and bogs, and swampy areas of the Elmore Mountain Road. The poh folk stick out, or they used to stick out in March and April, driving around town in their giant balls of rolling mud cakes.
You see, the Elmore Mountain Road is not only famous for its views, but it's equally famous for its mud. At least it used to be.
Used to be during the spring, or as we call it here in Vermont mud season, you could drive into a rut on the Elmore Mountain Road and not be seen or heard from 'til July the Fourth. Not anymore.
Now, the frost just-don't-go-so-deep in Vermont. Modern day weather and Vermont life in general is becoming more Connecticutish by the hour. Road crews have learned a great deal about crowning roads and scooping swales and shaving shoulders and laying drainage, so now anything needing to run-off, can run-off; mud season nowadays is a mere shadow of it's former self. Nowadays it's tough trying to find a good mudin'.
Flatlanders who've moved here within the past 10 years have no idea how bad a spring road can be, but they still love to play the martyr. "Oh my garsh, I can barely make it down in the morning, but in the afternoon the road is terrible, just terrible. Takes me forever to get home. Good thing I just had a fabulous yoga class, or I'd be a wreck."
I don't like to burst the bubbles of flatlanders, so I don't mention that us old timers used to enter the Mountain Road between mid-March and mid-April wondering if we'd make it home-not when we'd make it home.
The softness of the old-style Vermont spring roads used to make life difficult. It wasn't too much fun getting mired up to your running boards in thick, stanky mud. But the softness of those roads hardened us, made us tough, and separated us from anyone not from here.
That was then, this is now.
Now, changes, natural and man-made, are stealing a good bit of what made us all feel like Vermonters (and Elmore Mountain Road's claim to fame).
Mud. Rest in Peace mud seasons of old.
This is all not the beginning of the end. The end began long ago-with the beginning.
Rusty DeWees tours Vermont and Northern New York with his act "The Logger." His column appears weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen for The Logger, Rusty DeWees, Thursdays at 7:40 on the Big Station, 98.9 WOKO or visit his website at www.thelogger.com