I live down the road from the Wayside Country Store in Arlington, VT, one of the best country stores in the state of Vermont. I stop there for coffee some busy mornings, a drink on a hot day, or random groceries when needed. It’s THE meeting place for locals who gather at a table for coffee in the morning and it offers neighbors a chance to rub shoulders.
Last week someone near the store was hanging laundry on the line at 1:00 AM. This person noticed smoke coming out of the Wayside, called the fire department, and soon the small fire was extinguished. The proximity of the basement blaze to the electrical wires meant that five more minutes of burning would have ensured the loss of the whole store.
Five minutes stood between the loss of a community fixture. No coffee, no hanging out, no ice cream bars, and no chatting with neighbors. If the store had gone up in flames, I’m sure the community would have rallied to rebuild the Wayside in record time, but nevertheless I was forced to consider the nature of our new home.
Though I don’t own stock in the Wayside or have any personal investment in the store, it has taken on a whole new significance in my life. It’s become the heart of a community and we have assigned a value to this place where friendships are made, deals are struck, and business gets done.
People usually talk about the lack of options we have in Vermont. The shopping at Saratoga Springs is an hour away and so I receive much pity.
I have to admit that I count myself fortunate to live in a town so small that most of my neighbors congregate in one store, the owners take the time to learn first AND last names, and I can count on seeing people I know most of the time. It’s wonderful to be a part of something so valued and appreciated.