Sunday, July 25, 2010

Keywadin, Songadeewin and me

My travels around Vermont have opened a new appreciation for this area. I have been soaking it in and seeing things, some which are simply eye dazzling to every degree in between. I feel like a kid at summer camp. One of my walks took me around some pretty wonderful gardens in the area of Lake Dunmore. The above pictured globe thistle or (echinops banaticus) is a plant that I have tried to grow at home and it has never fared well. Here at the house of a local potter it is the major plant in the front garden.

Bordering the lake another clump of perennials with some of the best lilies you will see anywhere. The white lilies were a mere 5 feet tall. The hot pink ones below were in another corner of the garden at over 7 feet.

On a trip into Middlebury to see some sights I came across this famous two lane covered bridge just as a funnel cloud instantly descended and I thought I would be sucked up in some sort of tornado. Just as fast as it came, the funnel cloud spun and dispersed and the skies returned to the best shades of blues that I have ever seen.

The outing I was on was intended to get me to the University of Vermont Morgan Horse Farm. Here the breed known as Morgan horses were originally bred from a stallion named Figure. This was the first breed of horses of total American origin. The horses are known for their build and trotting ability and were the favorite horse during the Civil War. The site is located on a rambling hillside with magnificent views.

Neighboring swamp to the Morgan Horse Farm

Vermont is rather unique in weather, size and the quickness that paved roads become less so. Leaving Middlebury on Creek Road you follow along the Otter Creek (a great Vermont beer is named for the Creek) then you continue down these great farm fields and before you know it you are on a dirt road called Three Mile Bridge Road (the bridge is long gone but the name remains) with some great farms bordering the Cornwall Swamp Management Area. Wonderful wildlife and scenic beauty and just as fast as the road became gravel it returns to fully paved for another stretch.

Strange times and events led for houses in the area to be abandoned. This typical Vermont farmhouse is slowly being reclaimed by the elements and maybe it will be restored by some owner. It has a perfect metal roof. Adjacent to this beauty is one of a different kind.

Just when you thought you had seen it all next to the abandoned house on Creek Road there is this Chalet with three of these A-frames with a small concrete animal for your pleasure. Hey, it takes all kinds!

Just down the road from the house I am staying is this wonderful old garage with several inches of moss and ferns just waiting to be photographed. I wonder if they get any TV reception, we don't nor do we get any cell phone coverage.

Kampersville is a facility on Lake Dunmore that serves campers of all kinds on a private stretch of forest and lakefront. Here private camping whether by tent of RV are accommodated and the Sexy Squirrel serves to mark a place to resupply yourself on fuel, food or Sunday New York Times (the only place to get it nearby) which is how I came by the squirrel. By the way it was $6.00 for the New England Edition.

These campsites are also here in part because of the attraction of the region and the longstanding heritage of camping. Keywaydin Dunmore is purported to be one of the oldest boys camp in the country dating to 1910 where boys came to rustic cabins and army tents. Songadeewin, its female counterpart dating from the 1920's and now reorganized into the Keywadin management is another of the standards. All I can say is that I wish that I had parents enlightened enough to send me to a camp at such a wonderful place as Lake Dunmore.

Nearby Waterhouses' is yet another campground on the "busy end of the lake" as locals say where you can also get gas for your powerboat.

We are miles away from the major campsites located on the north end of the lake. In the southern end are mostly private homes and family camps like where I am staying. Here too, are unusual camps. While I was kajaking a rain shower started out of the blue and caught me and a cellist at the music camp in the rain. The cellist continued to play making my trip that much more eventful.

As I was saying our side of the lake has fancy and not so fancy houses where families have been returning since the 1930's. I am staying with friends that have called this their summer home since then and met other's like them who share longstanding summer friendships.

This biggest news in the lake is the return of the loons. For almost a hundred years loons were not seen at Lake Dunmore because of its popularity and their need of isolation. A few summers ago a pair returned and are back again. I came close enough on a canoe with friends to take this image. My prior contact with loons has been limited to those on the film On Golden Pond, but this summer I have gotten my fill of them taking the kayak out on daily runs to see them or going out on a neighbor's pontoon boat to an area they have claimed for raising the two chicks. They are very vocal and if you get too close you will get all kinds of alarming bird songs, swear language no doubt, telling you to keep away.

Finally, we had a torrential downpour for about three or four hours; a storm that started with huge hail. By the beginning of the evening there was a clearing of the skies and the Green Mountains opposite us were momentarily lit as though by floodlight and as the light wavered, colors I have only seen on Hudson School Paintings of Frederic Church surfaced. I leave you with this view from our dock. Happy Gardening!


  1. I am enjoying seeing Vermont through your eyes. Beautiful pictures and what a gorgeous sunset!

  2. Thanks Sophie. I am really having a great time here. As I was writing about kids going to camp all I could think of was our week in that leadership camp in Carpinteria 41 years ago!

  3. Loved this post, Rene! You certainly have an eye for beauty, wherever it may be. Thanks for showing our little corner of the world in such lovely light. We miss you!