Rural vs Urban
As many of you know, I am spending most of my summer in beautiful Vermont. There are few more pristine places on Earth than the Green Mountains. People here live closer to the Earth than most, and life is slower and simpler. However, there are also some environmental disadvantages to living in such a rural area.
First, there is a much smaller selection of seasonal, fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables. I went to the Farmer’s Market yesterday, and my selection was mostly lettuce, potatoes, beets and turnips. There were other things in small amounts – apple cider and pies, rhubarb, and garlic shoots – but mostly things I didn’t use much. In contrast, our Farmer’s Market in Florida has everything under the sun through much of the winter, and much of it is organic.
As I was picking out some tender turnips, I was spotted by a long-distance Facebook friend whom I had never met, and we set up a tentative lunch date. How fun!
Second, there is the transportation issue. As you know, I sold my car in February and replaced it with an electric scooter, my bike, my two feet and the local bus system. I have never looked back, and I enjoy the adventure life brings because of it. However, in Vermont, things are just not the same. The house I live in here is literally in the woods. There is no bus that comes anywhere near it. I considered getting a scooter, but the roads are full of potholes, and I fear it would be a dangerous proposition. Not to mention if I was ever here in the winter. So, until I implement a better solution, I have been driving a very huge truck whose gas mileage I do not even want to contemplate.
This has made me very unhappy as I feel I am reversing all the good work I did by getting rid of my car. But there is just no other way to get around up here since everything is so far away – grocery store, school, family, etc. I have come to the conclusion that I may have to buy a car for Vermont so as to avoid driving the truck. If I did that, I think the truck would be used a lot less overall, so it seems well worth it.
In Vermont, heating is the chief energy user as opposed to air conditioning. Natural gas or oil are the fuels of choice, and they’re not always cheap. Combine that with a lot of very old houses, and people in the northeast have much higher energy costs. In my 950 square foot house in Florida, my electricity bill is between $45-60 per month, and that encompasses my heating and cooling costs. I once lived in a probably 600 square foot detached cabin in Vermont, and I remember my heating fuel cost to be outrageous due to the lack of proper insulation in the building.
Recycling has always been a way of life here in Vermont, along with reusing, but I find not everyone is diligent about it. We are so fortunate in Sarasota to have WMA who picks up our recycling at our doorsteps. Here in Vermont, you must take your recycling and trash to a transfer station on certain days and sort it out yourself. You pay for trash per bag (a system that I am very much in favor of because it encourages folks to recycle all they can).
It is interesting to compare the Vermont lifestyle to the Florida lifestyle – rural vs urban. There are certainly advantages and drawbacks to both. Mostly I feel it a privilege to have the opportunity to experience them both, but I do miss my scooter.