The Winter issue of Vermont Life magazine (no, the magazine title is not intended to be ironic) boasts a contest… a quiz whereby you may determine just how true a Vermonter you really are. Being a recent transplant — and a flatlander, at that — I quickly thumbed to the quiz pages, hoping to learn something new about my adopted home.
As it happens, not only do the editors not provide the answers to their 49 questions — not even as to why they seemingly lost their enthusiasm before they could advance the count to a nice, round 50 — from this flatlander’s point of view they’re asking the wrong questions. After all, I don’t lose any sleep over the fact that I don’t know the length of the state of Vermont, or of Vermont’s Long Trail (me, I thought a Long Trail was measured by its weight in ounces). Nor do I know the answer to the question, What is the smallest (organized) town in Vermont? Are they suggesting that some towns really have their act together, while others are merely confused federations of local taxpayers? A true Vermonter probably knows…
I’d think they could do those of us with a low Vermont Quotient a genuine service by asking questions that are truly relevant to the Vermont Experience… and, of course, providing a handy answer key. And so, in an effort to promote the general welfare of fellow transplants, flatlanders and other folk from Summer Else, I submit the following questions — and my understanding thus far of what the answers may be, ’cause heaven knows I haven’t been able to find a clue on Answers.com — for inclusion in the Vermonter Canon.
- What’s a plowbill?
A: This is the heart-stoppingly awesome sum of money you will be paying to a neighbor who has a truck or tractor with a snow blade attachment. It is a base rate that does not include tips or gratuities, which are not only appreciated, but evaluated to determine the relative urgency of removing the snow from your driveway as opposed to the drive of the guy down the road who pays in advance — in cash — and furthermore has a cute daughter of dating age.
- My street sign reads PVT. What’s that mean?
A: This is, in fact, an abbreviation for the Latin, Peculium Vermonti Terminum, or, the property of Vermont ends here. This means that neither the state of Vermont nor any of its townships (no matter how organized) make any claim to this property whatsoever… just think of that street as being a long feeder lane for your driveway, and refer to Question #1.
- Is it true that Vermonters have 23 words for snow?
A: No. In fact, Vermonters rarely refer to snow at all, save for waving a dismissive hand at “that white stuff”. Flatlanders, however, employ dozens of clever phrases to describe snow, many of which were made famous by comedian George Carlin… and some of which would likely make Mr. Carlin blush furiously.
- Why are there 5 foot poles on top of all the fireplugs?
A: On account of all that white stuff.
- The weatherman calls it a mild winter, but my thermometer reads 12 degrees below zero. What do Vermonters consider cold?
A: You see all those red barns? It’s cold when they turn blue.