Posts Tagged With: Town Meeting

Hibernation Ends and How Did You Know My Name was Mac?


Long Trail Brewing Company’s Hibernator

Hibernation is ending and Town Meeting is tomorrow. The sugarbushes are tapped and waiting for a thaw — the same thaw that will signal the beginning of mud season — and the coldest (on average) 90 days of the year are behind us. It’s not like folks weren’t out and about during the cold, dark days, but there is more hope, anticipation and activity now that it’s March.

In summer Vermont is dreamy, in autumn glorious, and not without certain charms in winter, but to my mind spring defines her and the character of her people more than any season. Maple, mud and politics glue folks together around here at a time they’re coming apart at the seams and, when just getting out of the driveway is a challenge, the world can seem pretty small. Given everything going on in far away places, it’s darn near a pleasure to spend the whole first Tuesday in March debating with one’s fellow villagers just how much a new box culvert should cost.

Town Meeting Day

Town Meeting Day

A thorough examination of these pages will reveal the true identity of this little town, and we are fortunate to hold our Town Meetings just across our attractive village green, in a large room with comfortable seats. Some towns use metal folding chairs or wooden benches to accommodate the voters, which discourage folks from nodding off but also have the advantage of encouraging them to keep things moving along. We spend the day (except for lunch) in a theater.

This town was once considered part of another town and meetings were originally held there, way the hell over the hill. Tired of heading out before dawn and climbing a snow covered mountain every time the first Tuesday of March rolled around, the folks over here eventually declared independence and started a town of their own, closer to home.

No matter where it is held — or the way it is run, with hybrids popping up that incorporate Australian ballots and “informational sessions” — Town Meeting is an integral and iconic part of small-town life in Vermont. The national news will portray it as a quaint throwback to a different, simpler time, but it is complicated and very much here and now. With long-held traditions and well-documented histories, Town Meetings have spawned tales and anecdotes aplenty that are as much a part of Vermont as answering the question, “How’s the wife?” by asking, “Compared to what?” Continue reading

Categories: Humor, politics, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Mud Season 2012, Two Days In

(A certain angler in Georgia asked yesterday, “How’s the mud crop look this year?”

Ha ha.)

At Town Meeting on Tuesday, our village’s road foreman told me “mud season starts tomorrow,” which was almost amusing, considering the fact that, as I walked to town that morning, it was still just 10 degrees outside.

Tomorrow then is yesterday now, and he was right. Mud season has begun, and it looks like it’s going to be a good one.

One thing I have learned at Town Meeting over the years is that, if one is requesting funds, one should not place a series of question marks where a dollar sign and some numbers should be. I absofreakinglutely guarantee someone will stand up, waving their town report in the air, and shout, “I ain’t votin’ to put no tax dollars to no damn question marks!” It’s all over when that happens.

That might work in the big city, but you’ll get called on it every time at Town Meeting. It also helps if the wording of your request reflects what you describe in your supporting documents. We’re kind of picky that way, wanting to know just what we’re getting into.

We used printed paper ballots for a school district consolidation question, as well as for our Presidential primary votes. Somewhere is a stack of ballots that have been set aside, to be counted later, because they were defaced on Tuesday, vandalized by citizens who just couldn’t follow instructions. I am sure the Secretary of State has dealt with these things before, but his staff must slowly shake their heads after every election as they go through these ballots. I don’t know how many there are, but it’s a pretty sure thing that more than a few of my neighbors saw the section of the ballot marked “DO NOT WRITE IN THIS SPACE” and took the time to write “I WRITE WHERE I PLEASE!”.

Another Town Meeting tip: when you have had your say and the Moderator replies, “That is an opinion, not a motion,” don’t stand there like a deer in the headlights! Look the Moderator square in the eye, say “Damn right it is!” and sit down. That’s what I do, anyway.

One of the final items of the day on Tuesday was our town’s highway budget. Even if our road foreman hadn’t already warned of the impending mud, his proposed budget would have been changed when the villagers got a hold of it. We changed it, alright. We motioned, seconded, and approved a little raise for our road crew because they do a heck of a job with what they have to deal with. Without them, how else would our mail get through?

Categories: Humor, Rural Life, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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