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Whiffleball by the lake

039_12800jack-nicholson-posters.jpgAfter spending all week virtually a prisoner in the Airstream, chained to my computer, I really wanted to get out today. There’s a real danger in being back at our northeast home base. Because I know the area so well, I tend to assume I’ve seen everything and so don’t get out as much as I should. Then I spend too much time working, and by the end of the week craziness starts to set in, and pretty soon I’m wielding an axe like Jack Nicholson in “The Shining.”

Problem is, I had nowhere to go today. So I made up an errand, which was to go the Burlington Farmer’s Market (held every Saturday in the summer) and see if Rookie’s Root Beer was there. Last year I ran into this fabulous home-brewed root beer and bought a cup for $2. I consider myself to be something of a root beer connoisseur, and this was the best I’d ever tasted. Well worth every penny for the cup.

burlington-rookies-root-beer.jpgI pined all winter because Rookie’s has no distribution outside Vermont. In fact, there are only about half a dozen places you can get it: the Saturday Farmer’s Market, and a handful of local restaurants that have it on tap. So today I hunted down Dave Rooke, half of the husband-and-wife team that makes the root beer in their Burlington VT home, and talked to him about getting a supply.

Dave apparently has dealt with requests like mine before, because he didn’t hesitate to invite me to come by his house and bring my own container. He’ll fill whatever I bring, which immediately brought to mind visions of enormous kegs that I would somehow carry across the country with us. Problem is, the root beer has to be chilled at all times, so I can still only get as much as will fit in the refrigerator. Still, I’ll go get at least a couple of gallons, and maybe if I’m feeling generous I’ll bring some to the Trailer Jam for my close friends who also appreciate the fine blending of sassafras, wintergreen, and licorice.

burlington-discover-jazz-fest1.jpgAfter the market, we wandered over to the Church Street Marketplace, only a block away, to take in a few minutes of the Discover Jazz Festival going on all week. That’s quite an event, with bands both big and small, great and not-so-great, playing in the open air for anyone who cares to listen.   Right   up the street we ran into Dave’s wife Jenny, who mans a cart on Church Street seven days a week selling Rookie’s Root Beer (and brownies).   They’re darned serious about their root beer, and Jenny was a treat to talk to.

burlington-color.jpgI should also mention that the Church Street Marketplace is one of the highlights of Burlington VT, well worth a visit in the summer if you happen to be passing through.   It’s colorful, lively, and full of interesting people.   When we were residents of the area, we of course took it for granted, but having been around a few older downtown in the past couple of years, I’ve come to realize how rare it is.   The downtown hasn’t been thoroughly homogenized by The Gap, Old Navy, Barnes & Noble, Starbucks, etc (although some of those stores certainly are noticeable), it retains a lot of local flavor, it is still alive even though big malls have set up shop in the suburbs, and with a four-block brick marketplace instead of the old Church Street, it’s very pedestrian-friendly.

Finally some warm weather has arrived.   The entire week was cloudy, humid, and sub-70 degrees, which is not unusual for northern Vermont in June, but it was the coldest we’ve   been since February.   Grudgingly the cold air has given way to some real heat from the west, and today we got a typical summer day, the “three H’s” as they say here: Hazy, Hot, and Humid.


When that happens, friends tend to gather here, because the lakeside runs cooler and my brother’s Tiki Bar on the beach is open for the season.   After dinner we organized a game of whiffleball on the lawn with two four-person teams.   Emma had never played baseball of any type in her life, so we gave her a quick rundown and she did fairly well, with coaching from Eleanor.

Not that there were a lot of rules to learn — our whiffleball games tend to resemble a combination of rugby and the French Revolution.   Chaos is part of the fun.   One rule we use in short-staffed games (which is all of them) is that you can throw the whiffleball at a runner to tag them out.   In the process of the game we broke one plastic bat and three whiffleballs, two “bases” (upside-down terracotta planters), and had to pause the game for cleanup after Allie the dog left a land mine near first base.   It was a great time.

I think between root beer, jazz, and whiffleball we have officially opened up summer in northern Vermont. The lake is still pretty chilly even by Vermont standards, running about mid-fifties at the moment, but the boat is standing by for deployment and it won’t be long before the watersports begin.   More importantly, today’s activities have driven the “Jack Nicholson” out of me, so I can put away my axe for another week.

2 Responses to “Whiffleball by the lake”

  1. Jill Says:

    “Whether you hear me typing, or you don’t hear me typing. Whatever the %^& you hear me doing….”

  2. Rich Says:

    I had to Google that one to figure it out! Ha!