The Dirt Roads of Calais
March 31, 2016
I recently came across a 20-year-old article in the New York Times titled, “In Slow-Paced Vermont, the Dirt Road Reigns.”
The reporter wrote, “To a lot of Vermonters, an unpaved road is a better road. People go more slowly on a dirt road. In rural Vermont, slower is better,”
Two decades later, that’s still true. With nearly 8,700 miles of dirt roads across the state, there are some towns, like Landgrove, Glastonbury, Kirby, Granby, and Stannard, where you’ll be hard-pressed to find pavement.
In Calais, you can’t get across town without traveling along a dirt road. Of the town’s 92 miles of roads, 82 miles are dirt, according to the Vermont Agency of Transportation. In mud season, driving can be particularly challenging. All the better reason to park your car and go for a walk.
Last week, I visited Calais (pronounced “Cal-us”) after an early spring storm dropped a few inches of snow across this rural stretch of northern Washington County. Sap buckets hung on trees next to the general store in Maple Corner, and steam billowed from a tiny sugarhouse on a hill overlooking town. An occasional car or two passed, but it was still magnificently beautiful and quiet.
In what has seemed like a hectic few months balancing work and family, it was nice to visit Calais and remind myself to take a deep breath and slow down.