A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.

By Nina Pajak

Know what’s nice about summer in New York?

Spending time in other states.

We were recently fortunate enough to be invited to a Sunday wedding in Northern Vermont, which forced us to get off our butts, enjoy the outdoors for something more than just walking the dog, and make a long weekend road trip out of the occasion.

Vermont is one of those places where everything I say, wear and do makes me stick out like a sore thumb. Years ago, this actually manifested in a man looking at me, and then turning to his young little organically-grown sprout of a daughter and warning her “never to dress like that.” Thanks a lot, mountain man. It just so happens I’d prefer if my progeny lay off the fleece vests and rubber clogs, okay? So there. This time around, I was met with nothing but kind, if bemused locals.

We drove up to the Green Mountain State with another couple, friends of ours who share in our love of cheese samples and free tiny taster cups of terrible berry wine. Gosh, how I love terrible berry wine. It’s like all the positive qualities of juice mixed with all the positive qualities of alcohol, and it is almost always doled out by some adorable local New England type who could just talk about berry wine for days.

More: The New Yorker’s Getaway Guide To Rhode Island

vermont farm Nina In New York: Animal Farm

(credit: Nina Pajak)

Aside from the usual revelations I have when I travel further beyond the urban settlements (Fresh air! Smells nice! People friendly! Fun activities! Happy dogs!), I came upon a new one this time around. One that may change my life forever (and, if you ask my friends, will be a determining factor in my future).

I love farm animals.

I love them. I want to own them. I may have to stop eating them, due to the bond I feel I’ve forged with some of their representatives. I could talk to cows all day. In fact, I did. Well, my friend and I did until our husbands called us from the car, baffled as to where we could have disappeared to for such a preposterous length of time. One farm in particular had a wonderful array of livestock available for visitation, and my friend and I were mesmerized by the microcosmic world we encountered.

cow Nina In New York: Animal Farm

(credit: Nina Pajak)

Within one barn, there were first and foremost the cows. Actually, they don’t do anything particularly out of the ordinary. You know, they munch on hay, they flick flies with their tails, they snort and stomp a little. They look at you with their big, cow eyes and they somehow all remind me of my dog, Gus. Then there was the donkey, who was a living explanation of how AA Milne must have settled on Eeyore’s personality. He was a tragic figure, to be sure. A lone donkey in a room full of cows who all very obviously shunned him for his otherness. He came over and stuck his nose out at us, looking at us with his sad, sad eyes. Whenever he tried to nudge his way in between the cows for a snack, they all scattered in a way that could only be interpreted as akin to a bunch of mean girls disdainfully getting up when a nerd tries to sit at their lunch table.

As we slowly made our way down the line of animals, a couple of very officious chickens began running towards us, bocking and circling our ankles and herding us further along, making sure we did not get too close to the residents. In the cartoon version of this farm, they were the hired security detail who are all secretly henchmen to the scheming, implacable barn villain: the sow.

The sow sat in a pen of her own, her piglets freely wiggling in and out between the bars. They were friendly, but she showed no interest in us or the whereabouts of her brood, choosing instead to quietly gnaw on a plastic water bucket and plot her next move. Surely, the donkey will somehow wind up becoming a hapless pawn, doomed by his own desperation to feel a sense of belonging.

Who knew there was so much fun to be had 200 miles outside of New York? It’s practically theater.


Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

 Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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