The soup lover’s mystery series is set in the imaginary village of Snowflake, Vermont. Needless to say, I’ve spent an awful lot of time in that village . . . in my mind . . . and I can only hope the village I’ve created for readers lives in their imaginations as well.
This summer, I decided to go searching for Snowflake and all the things that might exist there – village greens, white steepled churches, small shops and restaurants, gingerbread houses and all those elements that create the charm of small New England towns.
Did I actually find Snowflake? Well, not exactly. I found many of the things I’ve imagined and remembered from growing up in New England, but more importantly, I discovered so many other beautiful places and met a lot of welcoming people. Here are some memories of that trip:
Flying into Burlington Airport from JFK was the first surprise.
An absence of crowds, signs in English and French and an airport filled with rocking chairs!
Burlington sits on the shores of Lake Champlain. Via the Champlain Canal, it’s possible to travel from the St. Lawrence Seaway in Quebec to the Hudson River and New York Harbor. This strategic waterway was the scene of several important battles against the British during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
The lake was named after the French explorer Samuel de Champlain, who came upon it in 1609. Champlain also claimed that he spotted a monster five feet long, a creature with silver scales that “a dagger could not penetrate” and jaws with sharp and dangerous teeth.
Native Americans also claim to have seen similar monsters, some as long as eight to ten feet. Vermont’s lake monster, named Champ (that’s Champ with a French pronunciation) still receives considerable attention. A replica is on display near the shore.
Church Street leads to a white steepled church from which the street derives its name.
My first stop was at Phoenix Books in Burlington.
Phoenix Books is at 191 Bank Street
Burlington, VT 05401
T: (802) 448-3350
A second branch of Phoenix Books can be found at Essex Junction. It’s a wonderful store and if you’re in the area, stop by to browse or visit them online at www.phoenixbooks.biz.
Tod led me to a display of Archer Mayor books, a well known Vermont author. I had been meaning to check out Mayor’s series for a long time and this was the perfect opportunity. I picked up a copy of Open Season and loved it. I hope to read all the rest of Mayor’s books in the near future.
A huge highlight of my visit to Burlington was actually getting to meet and have lunch with Melissa La Pierre, whose blog, Melissa’s Mochas Mysteries and More, hosted me for one of my first guest blogs, aptly named “Creating Snowflake.”
And then earlier this year, Melissa was kind enough to host my blog on The Missing of Vermont.
Melissa’s a life long Vermonter who was excited to learn of a village mystery series set in Vermont. We had a great time chatting but our lunch ended all too soon. I felt I made a friend and I know we’ll stay in touch in the future!
Driving through other towns, I found village greens, white steepled churches and lots of streets named after trees, just like the streets in Snowflake — Spruce, Maple, Elm, Birch and Chestnut.
And I was excited to see a lot of unique widow’s walks, by the lake and even inland. I posted a blog several months ago about other widow’s walks I’ve found in my travels.
Here are a few more I found in Vermont
Just south of Burlington is the town of Shelburne. In 1947, a former resident, Electra Havemeyer Webb. founded the Shelburne Museum to house her collections:
At this sprawling indoor/outdoor museum, you can view priceless works of Impressionist art, the steamship Ticonderoga, completely restored down to the last detail, carriages, costumes, circus figures, quilts, weathervanes, pewter, china, and early American furniture, to mention just a few categories.
In Burlington, a ten minute uphill hike leads to the Ethan Allen Tower with views of the Green Mountains, the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain. The site is maintained by the Tower Keypers, area residents who keep watch over the park and lock and unlock the Tower daily.
No visit to a New England town is complete without a walk through a local cemetery.
The Victorian Gothic Louisa Howard Chapel opened to the public in 1872 and is available for memorial services, weddings and other public gatherings.
One of my other goals on this trip was to say hello to Gwen Roolf of Montpelier who allowed me to use her amazing photos of the town for my website. You can find several of them on my website.
I was lucky enough to catch Gwen there. Here’s Gwen with her friend George at the library.
And more hearts on a tower:
At Middlebury, I discovered the impressive Otter Creek Falls.
There is a river near Snowflake, but I couldn’t help wondering why I didn’t think of giving Snowflake its very own falls.
Did I find my Snowflake? Not exactly, but I found elements of Snowflake wherever I traveled. Best of all, I’ll savor my photos and memories for a long time to come.