Glancing through the morning’s potential blog fodder, I found a Spectator piece on The Evolution of Vermont. The hijacking of that once-paradigmatic flinty conservative, rock-ribbed Republican state by goat-milking hippies and trust-fund bolsheviks is, to my mind, one of the true tragedies of our time. Seeing Ethan Allen and Calvin Coolidge replaced today by a crazy ranting Communist makes my blood boil.
The Spectator piece turned out to be a tongue-in-cheek philosophical reflection on the same theme by an imaginary old school WASP commentator from the Yale Class of ’89 named “Digby Dent.”
“Digby Dent” is the pseudonymous author of a more-or-less-monthly Wasp Life column, whose nom-de-plume is borrowed from the membership of a dynasty of two British admirals of the 18th Century. The current, quite talented Digby Dent turns out to be one Marlo Safi, a conservative Eastern-rite Catholic writer of Syrian extraction and graduate of the University of Pittsburgh.
The Digby Dent series links at the Spectator include only four columns going back to last November, but I found them all worth a read.
Getting back to Digby on Vermont:
Iâ€™ve wintered here all my life and during that time Vermont has, like old Digbyâ€™s marital status, seen three permutations. In my boyhood, it was a poor but charming backwater, chockablock with flinty, taciturn Yankees. By bright college years, hippies were making goat-milk ice cream and the cities were run by sex maniacs and communists. Now, Vermontâ€™s resorts are as gauche as Saddamâ€™s bathrooms, half the tourists donâ€™t ski and one of the sex-maniac communists aspires to lead the free world.
The permanent things endure, of course. The Green Mountains are still beautiful and Iâ€™m told they still work them like dogs at the Putney School. Still, I have my doubts. Vermont has never been much for schools and still isnâ€™t; consistency, I suppose. But you canâ€™t have a student kicked by a mule in the Y of Our L 2020. The damn lawyers wonâ€™t have it.
Even the skiing has changed. Last year we got the best snow in ages, but the season is indisputably shrinking. Whatever the causes, and I wonâ€™t pretend to know a damned thing about them, the climate is changing. As a devoted conservationist, Iâ€™ve done my part. The four-door I keep at my summer cottage carries a â€˜Preserve the Soundâ€™ plate. …
When I strode through Phelps Gate and onto the Street in â€™89, I was full of vim and vigor, with big, bold plans to bend the world of junk bonds to my will. Those went the way of my waistline and slackened over time. Thatâ€™s why God invented pleated pants.
As the gal pal clears away lunch and I watch the sun set over the woods, I think about … about my marriages, my career and all the vaporous dreams of youth, these last evanescent as a retreating shoreline. The world will be fine long after weâ€™re gone.
“Digby Dent” aka Marlo Safi.