Day 611: Swell in Orwell

The route from Mount Tabor to Orwell, Vermont, the Mind’s Eye group’s next destination, passed near Bomoseen State Park, a recreation area surrounding the largest lake that is entirely within the borders of Vermont. After canoeing on Bomoseen Lake, the group headed on to Mount Independence State Historic Site. Located on the shores of Lake Ticonderoga, it was a major stronghold of the rebelling colonists during the Revolutionary War.

Mention “Orwell,” and most people think of George Orwell, the pen name of British author Eric Blair, who is best known for his books Animal Farm and 1984. He was a staunch opponent of totalitarian governments—either right or left—and the propaganda techniques that keep them in power, including the corruption of language. He coined the words “doublethink” and “newspeak.” The former is defined as, “the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct,” and the latter means, “deliberately ambiguous and contradictory language used to mislead and manipulate the public.”

But historians believe that when the town was chartered in 1763 it was named after one Francis Vernon, a minor Irish politician whose title was Baron Orwell. Despite the town’s having no known connection to George Orwell, there is ample evidence that most of the residents of the Village of Orwell think for themselves. After a nineteenth century threshing accident that killed several of the town’s young men, the town passed a law banning the use of “modern farm machinery of all kinds.” It remains in force today. The village has also staunchly defended itself against fast-food franchises. However, at happy hour, Laetitia heard about at least one town resident who found independent thinking challenging. Before going off to join her group for dinner, she turned the story into the limerick of the day.

There was a young man from Orwell
Who with “Victory Gin” plied his Nell
And lied to his niece
When he said, “war is peace”
For he thought that newspeak is quite swell.

Day 610: Mount Tabor Saber

After leaving West Dover, Laetitia and her group drove west along the Molly Stark Trail to Bennington, then took U.S. Highway 7 toward Mount Tabor, Vermont, at the north end of Green Mountain National Forest. On the waythey hiked portions of the Appalachian Trail.

Named after the mountain in Galilee believed to be the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus, Mount Tabor is a small town of about 200 inhabitants. Since the town is somewhat remote from urban centers and lacks abundant entertainment options, residents tend to entertain themselves with house parties. Local gossip about one such party provided the limerick of the day.

At a Halloween bash in Mount Tabor
Mel danced in costume with a saber
‘Til he tripped o’er his tunic
Becoming a eunuch
Thus ending his trysts with his neighbor.

Day 609: West Dover Clover

Laetitia and her group headed north across the border into Vermont. Their first stop on the way was in Molly Stark State Park. The park is the namesake of the wife of Revolutionary War General John Stark. Her name became part of the region’s folklore when her husband said to his army just before the Battle of Bennington, “There are your enemies, the Redcoats and the Tories. They are ours, or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow.”

After a hike in the park, the group moved on to West Dover, Vermont, which is at the eastern edge of Green Mountain National Forest. The group went to nearby Woodford State Park, where they rented kayaks and spent the afternoon on one of the park’s lakes. They returned to West Dover in late afternoon. The day’s limerick was derived from some bar gossip about a local couple, Curt and Barb, who chose an unfortunate trysting place.

When Curt begged Barb over and over
To go for a roll in the clover
With luck that was ill
They lay on an anthill
And jumped up and ran nude through West Dover.

Day 608: Stork Reality

On the way to Leverett, Massachusetts, their next destination, Laetitia and her group went hiking and wildlife watching in Mount Holyoke Range State Park and Lawrence Swamp. The Mount Holyoke Range is a seven-mile ridge of rugged woodlands interspersed with streams, ponds, and wetlands. After hiking part of the ridge, the group hiked the portion of the 47-mile Robert Frost Trail that runs through Lawrence Swamp. They visited the Emily Dickenson House and Museum in Amherst before going to their final destination for the day.

Leverett is a town of about 2,000 residents. It’s small enough that young people are enticed away to seek their fortunes in cities, and everybody knows everyone else’s business. The bar gossip was about a local girl named Zoe who went off to work in Boston. While there, she went on a wild weekend in New York with a man from the Boston suburb of Everett. The trip’s unanticipated result was the source of the day’s limerick.

Young Zoe let a fellow from Everett
Do things that she wished she had never let
On a trip to New York
Now she’s expecting the stork
And raising eyebrows back home in Leverett.