The Attack of the Killer Icicle

It’s true what they say: Going to a destination always seems longer than coming home. As we approached the Canadian border following a day visiting Burlington, Vermont, I asked my wife, “Which is longer, the distance from the American border to Burlington or from Burlington to the Canadian border?” It was a trick question which she took the time to ponder.

“They’re both the same distance!” she said definitively. “OK,” I responded, “which seems longer?” “From the American border to Burlington,” she said without hesitating.

And it’s true. It must have to do with the anticipation of the destination. You’re “empty”, you haven’t yet had the experience that you’re looking for, which in our case would include window shopping along the outdoor Church Street Mall, getting a year’s supply of Tibetan incense at Tradewinds, possibly getting an ice cream maker. I saw going to Burlington as an adventure. My wife was less certain. “We going to Burlington to buy incense?” she asked, none too impressed. Lucky for me and for her that she decided to accompany me. We both had a great time.

We love going to City Market Coop on Winooski Avenue and this time the experience didn’t disappoint; in fact, there were far less people shopping than normal and my wife and I enjoyed slowly walking up and down the aisles taking in huge varieties of organic foods in all sizes and shapes, and came away with a superb and super-cheap hunk of Vermont cheese and some organic meat and non-meat sausages and, of course, some Vermont java.

On the trip to Burlington, our car resembled a mother duck followed by a little duckling, in this case the “duckling” was a snow-covered car with a tiny lady driver. Why she wanted to drive so close to me and for such a long time I haven’t a clue. For many, many miles there she was on my tail, unwavering. This is something which normally drives me crazy but this time it didn’t at all.

In the market, sipping on some matte tea, I said to Brenda, “I want to move here.”

Brenda sometimes takes me too seriously when I imagine alternative realities. “You can’t move here,” she said immediately.

One can still imagine, can’t one?

“But we can come here more often,” she added. Yesss!


I like the vibe of Burlington, its state of consciousness.

Being sensitive to a vibe sometimes means that you will like a place that’s not necessarily that pretty and dislike a place that looks gorgeous. In the case of Burlington, there are plenty of shops and outdoor places that are charming. Certainly my wife was beginning to not regret coming. Besides the Coop, we went to some clothing stores and I suddenly discovered, according to my wife, that I was desperately in need of new clothes.

“But I have more clothes than you,” I protested.

“You keep your clothes far too long,” she replied dryly.

So I gave in and allowed my wife to help me find a new sweater. She also showed me pants and shirts and t-shirts. One other thing that was brought home to me about Brenda is her attitude in shopping. She will agonize over buying clothes for herself, trying on stuff and dithering forever and then choosing eventually not to get something, but it’s completely the opposite when it comes to me. In other words, throw out the agonizing part. “Here,” she’ll say handing me something, “this looks nice. Try this on.” On and on this goes, I can tell that she’s enjoying this role; still, I choose to not get most everything I look at, until I finally pick a beautiful zip-up sweater than can double as an outdoor jacket in the spring and fall.

That’s not the end of it, though. Brenda is determined that I find a new winter hat. By the end of the day, I have the sweater, the hat and a lime-green 100% polyester fleece sweater to wear under my cross-country ski coat and some new headphones. I’m delighted.

As we approach Canada, at around Swanton, Vermont, the forest around us gets incredibly white and will continue to look this way until we get home. I stop to let Brenda take some photos of pine trees laden with snow and ice. It’s for an upcoming art project that’s taken hold of her imagination.

Oh, as for the “Killer Icicle”, below you can see what grew from our house in the aftermath of the ice storm. By the morning of the 29th it had mercifully fallen down and not killed anyone. As far as I know.



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