Mud Season

The subtitle of Mud Season--How One Woman's Dream of Moving to Vermont, Raising Children, Chickens and Sheep and Running the Old Country Store Pretty Much Led to One Calamity After Another--gives you a fair idea of what to expect in Ellen Stimson's humorous memoir. Based on a single bucolic and romantic weekend in Vermont, Stimson and her family relocated from St. Louis to a small town in the Green Mountains. That decision turned Stimson's life upside down; her desire to run a "Quaint Country Store" became a financial and emotional nightmare. Being from "away," Stimson didn’t understand the conservative, stick-to-tradition mentality of her New England neighbors. From bringing in "foreign guys" to remodel their house--instead of hiring locals to do the work--to filling the local grocery store with gourmet food rather than what the locals wanted, which was "to buy their canned gravy, and their bread and milk and not have to fool with starstruck newbies who wanted to get their reactions to the new alpaca socks," life was one disaster after another.

With grit and a self-deprecating sense of humor, however, Stimson and her family learned to live a rural life. They raised chickens and sheep, bought produce from a local farmer, dealt with the spring mud and called 911 only four or five times. For anyone contemplating a move from the city to a small New England town, consider Mud Season a witty how-to guide on what not to do. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

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