The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

doubly potent

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

They’re not exactly hurting for scenery up there in Vermont, I tell’s ya.

At the end of College Street, right on the waterfront, is a boathouse which tenants a bar/restaurant sort of situation. They do cocktails and lobster rolls, burgers and beers, that sort of place. Most importantly, Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself were able to grab a table and a couple of chairs and just reflect on what was a very fun day wherein we had experienced 3-4 different weather forecasts within 12 hours.

We were tired from what ended up being about 15 miles of walking.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Doesn’t sound like a lot of walking, 15 miles. Saying that, I spend all of my time on the mostly flat tidal plain that NYC is embedded onto. I grew up in a gray area of Canarsie and Flatlands, which was right next door to Flatbush. Notice how the word “flat” keeps coming up? In Burlington, getting to the next corner could involve walking up an inclined street to get to an intersection that is fifty or sixty feet higher in elevation than the one you started on.

It would have been nice to have some sort of personal transportation, but when we needed to get someplace distant, ride share LYFT cars were never too far away and even our longest ride fare never broke past $20 before tip.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Burlington is immaculate. That’s something I kept on noticing. Street litter is largely nonexistent. There’s also a paucity of, but still some, graffiti. Most of the graffiti observed adjured the reader to love themselves, and others. Real hippy dippy messaging, if you know what I mean. People I talked to were aware of combined sewers and that street garbage would inevitably end up in Lake Champlain so they made an effort to keep that from happening. There were litter bins – garbage AND recycling – on every corner. The air was clean and fresh, you didn’t smell rotting garbage or standing water. There was no sound of fart cars, or police helicopters, or anything like the constant standing wall of buzzing noise offered by NYC.

Could you live here?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The biggest local employers are a company that has taken over functions at an old IBM factory in Essex Junction, which is where we debarked from the Amtrak “Vermonter” line train. That’s where the money is, I’m told. The other big employers are the colleges – University of Vermont and Champlain College. Burlington is surrounded by farm country, as in a little more than half hour drive from the city center and you’re looking at cows and horses. An hour out and you’re deep in “the country.” A significant number of Vermont natives live in deep poverty. There’s no more than 643,503 people in the entire state, according to the 2020 census, and the average median income for a hypothetical family of four would be about $53,000. Remember, that’s median, so 53k is the 50% mark with half of those six hundred forty three thousand souls earning far less.

Population wise, Vermont is the second least populous state after Wyoming. That means that your vote for National Office holders like Congressman or Senator really counts. As far as income rank, that 53k median mentioned above makes it the 28th most wealthy state – per capita.

By the way, if the fact that 53k for a family of four puts you in the middle of the income chart for the USA doesn’t scare the hell out of you and make you rethink what you think you know about economics, I think you should talk to your doctor about getting on some kind of pill.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Burlington enjoys a hot summer version of a continental climate, with average temperature ranging between 20 degrees Fahrenheit in January to 72 degrees in July. They get outlier days, of course, but those are the averages as offered by the government meteorological types. Despite the northern latitude, they don’t seem to get as much snow as you’d imagine. An average of 37.5 inches of precipitation falls annually on Burlington. That’s around ten inches less than New York City gets these days, actually.

Politically speaking, Burlington is far to the left of New York City – it’s Bernie Sanders’ home base, after all. The City operates on 100% renewable power, solar panels are installed everywhere, there are generating windmills, the place is squeaky clean and mostly litter free.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The answer is that yes, you could live here and have a pretty ok life, and obviously so if you’re in the upper income percentile over 53k per year. The median cost for a house in the City of Burlington is about 131k. The price of housing drops off the further away you go, of course. There are real steals available in farm country, and living fifty miles outside of the center doesn’t mean the same thing in Vermont that it does in NYC. In NYC and its exurbs, it can take you two hours to go 5 miles, even on the highways. An hour drive in Vermont can find you living in a vernal paradise of barely populated and quite aboriginal woodlands. The trick is finding a way to move there with the salary you’re earning in NYC.

Woof. Back next week with more pics and stories from Vermont. Vermont was, of course, just one of the places I’ve been to in September. It’s been a wild ride, lords and ladies.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 1, 2021 at 11:00 am

Posted in AMTRAK

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2 Responses

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  1. Don’t forget the snow and cold. Lots of both.


    October 9, 2021 at 6:46 pm

  2. […] immemorial lore, Church Street and downtown in waxen mask. Burlington was analyzed during sunset in doubly potent, we visited Shelburne Farms in appalling seething, reel irresponsibly, took a boat tour onboard the […]

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