Looking out at the melting snow in the backyard, water dripping from the gutters above, puddles on the patio, and patches of mud by the side of the road, I am reminded of Vermont. Specifically, mud season.
Years ago, when I lived in Manhattan, my husband introduced me to skiing in Vermont. I never considered myself particularly athletic. Riding a ten-speed bicycle was an accomplishment. I could ice skate leisurely around a rink but no tricks or spins. So, to hurtle down a snow-covered mountain was not my idea of a fun time. My husband was sure that I would love skiing as much as he did. He even bought me a set of skis and poles and a really cute ski outfit with goggles, gloves, etc. to transform me into a skier.
I did enjoy the few times that I swooshed down the snowy trails at Killington on a beautiful sunny day. I felt in control and remembered to point my skis to slow down and smile for the camera as I arrived at the base.
I did not like sitting on a chair lift first thing in the morning in six-degree temperatures. I did not like skiing on those afternoons when the sky was white and the snow-covered ground was white. It was very disorienting. One afternoon, I kept falling and finally just pulled off my skis and walked the entire way back down the mountain.
I liked the quaint small towns we stopped at on afternoon shopping and browsing excursions. I admired the historic wooden houses and churches on the main streets in towns like Manchester, Bennington, White River Junction, Wilmington, and Woodstock.
On weekends, we sometimes stopped for breakfast or lunch at the tiny Mom & Pop diners in those small Vermont towns. We were in our twenties and talked about ditching our jobs in NYC and moving up to Vermont to run our own breakfast café. We thought it might be fun to serve breakfast and lunch, close up at 3 p.m. and have the rest of the day to take advantage of the outdoor nature and activities that Vermont has to offer.
We talked to realtors about purchasing a small eatery in a ski town. One man who owned a ski shop and worked part-time in real estate while his wife worked in a gift shop told us that the ski season will not be enough to generate revenue for the year. Everyone had a side business or two to stay afloat. He also told us that Vermont has four seasons: summer, fall, winter, and mud season.
Mud season is that time of year between March and the end of May when the slushy snow cover no longer supports skiers and the forest trails are not suitable for hikers and bike riders. In fact, hikers are advised to stay off the trails during mud season to avoid damage to the trails and the surrounding vegetation. This period of time would be challenging for any new business relying on tourist dollars.
We decided to set our sights closer to home and began searching for small restaurants for sale in New Paltz. A college town and a hiking/biking vacation destination, New Paltz had that young-earthy-crunchy vibe. We visited a couple of local establishments and along the way learned that owning a food business is actually a 24-hour/7-day a week grind. Picture postcard towns and funky restaurants are fun to daydream about, but the reality of working together without steady paychecks eventually crashed down upon us.
Kim Kovach is often inspired to write after looking out of the window; kimkovachwrites.com