Ask a Native: Elizabeth Perkins

What was growing up in Vermont like?
My grandfather had the 600 acre “Hoot & Holler” farm, technically in South Halifax with part of the property stretching into Massachusetts. When my grandparents passed on we moved there permanently. It was a huge culture shock coming from New York, particularly in snow and mud season, when the roads were almost impassable. At times we operated as a functioning farm; we had cows, chickens, three dogs, and a two acre vegetable garden. What back in the day they would refer to as a Gentlemen’s farm. We had a gorgeous beaver pond, complete with frogs and red salamanders, and I spent my summer days picking wild Concord grapes and blackberries, swimming in the Green River, and selling zucchini at the end of our road to the 1 to 2 cars that passed by each day.

What do you miss most?
The clean air. The clean water. The smell of fresh cut hay and the change of seasons. Living in Los Angeles, you miss the cyclical quality of seasons…the new beginning that comes with spring, and the ending that begins with autumn. And there is a different mentality to the people of New England—a stronger sense of community and kinship that’s rooted in it’s own strength and history. You feel it innately in local celebrations and customs and traditions.

How about the least?
Well, there’s no doubt that everyone from New England never misses the cold and ice. Particularly in the month of January when it can be bitter. It does tend to make the Los Angeles climate of 72 degrees and sunny a little more appealing. And I don’t miss raking leaves.

What does your ideal Brattleboro day look like?
My ideal day in Brattleboro would begin with lunch at the Riverview Café (36 Bridge St., Brattleboro, 802-254-9841) which overlooks the Connecticut River and Island Park. I would then make my way to Amy’s Bakery Arts Café to pick up a coffee to drink while browsing the dusty shelves of Brattleboro Books on Elliot Street. I would try and visit the Vermont Center for Photography (49 Flat St., Brattleboro, 802-251-6051) before picking up some local produce at the Brattleboro Food Co-op (2 Main St., Brattleboro, 802-257-0236) to cook up for dinner!

Where did you and your husband go on your first date?
I met my husband on a movie set, so we never actually had a first date! But now, one of my favorite places to take him is the Green River Bridge in Guilford for a picnic. It’s simply gorgeous and quiet and a great place to have lunch on a blanket. There’s a beautiful B&B there built in 1830 called The Green River Bridge House (2435 Stage Rd., Guilford, 800-528-1868); I would book a massage in their spa after lunch. At night, I would take him to Marlboro Music at Marlboro College (2582 South Rd., Marlboro, 802-251-7644) for a concert under the stars.

What’s one local food staple that everyone must try?
In Brattleboro, the pastries from Oh Sweet Mama’s are served at the Twilight Tea room (51 Main St., Brattleboro, 802-254-8887). Yummy! And in Shelburne Falls, I always have to have the Falafel Platter at The West End Pub (16 State St, Shelburne Falls, 413-625-6216), or a slice of the best pizza on the planet at Countrypie Pizza in nearby Ashfield (343 Main St, Ashfield, 413-628-4488) .

Where’s your favorite hidden spot?
One of my favorite things to do is to drive through the countryside. And one of my top choices is The Molly Stark Scenic Byway that travels Route 9 from Brattleboro to Bennington.

What should someone never, ever do in Brattleboro?
No one should ever, ever jump off the Hinsdale Bridge into the Connecticut River. This is dumb. AND, you should never, ever cross the bridge into New Hampshire to shop at the Wal-Mart, which they built directly across the bridge after the store was shut out of Brattleboro. I am for supporting local.