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 [NOOK Book]

Overview

After a getaway in gorgeous rural Vermont—its mountains ablaze in autumnal glory, its Main Streets quaint and welcoming—Ellen Stimson and her family make up their minds even before they get back to St. Louis: “We’re moving to Vermont!” The reality, they quickly learn, is a little muddier than they'd imagined, but, happily, worth all the trouble.

In self-deprecating and hilarious fashion, Mud Season chronicles Stimson’s transition from city life to rickety Vermont farmhouse. When she decides she wants to own and ...
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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

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Overview

After a getaway in gorgeous rural Vermont—its mountains ablaze in autumnal glory, its Main Streets quaint and welcoming—Ellen Stimson and her family make up their minds even before they get back to St. Louis: “We’re moving to Vermont!” The reality, they quickly learn, is a little muddier than they'd imagined, but, happily, worth all the trouble.

In self-deprecating and hilarious fashion, Mud Season chronicles Stimson’s transition from city life to rickety Vermont farmhouse. When she decides she wants to own and operate the old-fashioned village store in idyllic Dorset, pop. 2,036, one of the oldest continually operating country stores in the country, she learns the hard way that “improvements” are not always welcomed warmly by folks who like things just fine the way they’d always been. She dreams of patrons streaming in for fresh-made sandwiches and an old-timey candy counter, but she learns they’re boycotting the store. Why? “The bread,” they tell her, “you moved the bread from where it used to be.” Can the citified newcomer turn the tide of mistrust before she ruins the business altogether?

Follow the author to her wit’s end and back, through her full immersion into rural life—swapping high heels for muck boots; raising chickens and sheep; fighting off skunks, foxes, and bears; and making a few friends and allies in a tiny town steeped in history, local tradition, and that dyed-in-the-wool Vermont “character.”

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Stimson's predictable tale of uprooting to Vermont after an idyllic fall vacation has its fun moments, including "choosing the cheese" and experiencing Mud Season, the time in early spring when "the snow opens up the hard, bare ground beneath it," but never enough of them to outweigh the plodding narrative. Initial visions of a picturesque small-town life are immediately sidetracked by the day-to-day of historic home renovations and management troubles at the "Horrible Quaint Country Store" that Stimson and her husband decide to open. Natural descriptions provide moments of serenity: "There seems to be a whole, separate world just below the snowy, melty surface." Such instances, unfortunately, are often bogged down by repetitive footnoting. Stimson's story, which concludes with bankruptcy negotiations and a promise never to buy a store again, is fraught with anxiety and missteps. More than thirty appended pages of recipes, including three pet memoriam, supply cheerier resolutions than the story commands. Such additions detract from what would otherwise be a bittersweet story, making this book far more complicated, and less enjoyable, than it should be. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
“Taking a plunge that wimpier sorts (i.e. most of us) only fantasize about,
Ellen Stimson and her family packed up their house in St. Louis and threw themselves into a wildly different life in small-town Vermont.
Armed with the passion—and haplessness—of wide-eyed newcomers they rescue goats and adopt chickens, do battle with skunks and bats and falling ice, and, most disastrously, buy a black hole of a general store. Through it all they manage to retain their love for their adopted home as well as one another...This is a tale to which all the cliché
words absolutely apply: hilarious, heartwarming, rollicking, and, most of all, rich in the real stuff of life. —Julia Reed, author of But Mama Always Put Vodka In Her Sangria!
Pam Houston
“Anyone who has ever dreamed of leaving the city and taking their lives back to nature (and who hasn't?) will find much to contemplate in this warm and hilarious tale of rural misadventure and small town quirk,
even if they have never chased a goat in a bathing suit or called 911
because there were cows in the road. Stimson's voice is endearing: both in its self deprecation and its rapture, as she sings an only slightly conflicted love song to Vermont.

Julia Reed
“Taking a plunge that wimpier sorts (i.e. most of us) only fantasize about,
Ellen Stimson and her family packed up their house in St. Louis and threw themselves into a wildly different life in small-town Vermont.
Armed with the passion—and haplessness—of wide-eyed newcomers they rescue goats and adopt chickens, do battle with skunks and bats and falling ice, and, most disastrously, buy a black hole of a general store. Through it all they manage to retain their love for their adopted home as well as one another...This is a tale to which all the cliché
words absolutely apply: hilarious, heartwarming, rollicking, and, most of all, rich in the real stuff of life.”
Booklist
“[STARRED REVIEW] Get your schadenfreude ready. Stimson’s fish-out-of-water memoir is chockablock with self-deprecating, belly-laughable vignettes. Not since Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I (1945) has anybody seemed more ill-suited to country life. And yet this born-and-bred Midwestern city dweller, having run up an enormous tab at her local Vermont country store, thinks, “Maybe I could run a quaint country store.” Visions of herself, husband John, and their Bernese Mountain dog, Eloise, greeting delighted customers with homemade breads and soups and cozy woodstove fires eclipsed all logic. They bought the store. Which sounds ominously like the phrase, they bought the farm. Which it may as well have been in the case of this former wholesale book businesswoman who seemed hell-bent on proving she had more money and credit than brains. Naturally, first thing, Stimson rearranged the store to suit her well-intentioned yuppie sensibilities. The locals stayed away in droves. Indeed, her first customers—staid, khaki-and-sensible-shoe-wearing native Vermonters—took one look at her “swingy” orange and purple outfit accessorized with jangly jewelry and thought she was a fortune teller. The experience foretold a very long acclimation and heaps of hilarious anecdotes. As for this book—come for the humor, stay for the recipes.”
Boston Globe
“Stimson's debut memoir of her first few years in Dorset reads like Erma Bombeck meets E. B. White (with a dash of Elizabeth Gilbert thrown in). She's a natural storyteller and openhearted lover of her family, her animals, and her big chaotic life.”
Washington Post
“Ellen Stimson is funny. Darned funny. And she knows how to spin a good, old-fashioned yarn. Stimson tells her tales with clear-eyed, self-deprecating humor, which makes Mud Season a breeze to read in a single sitting.”
Booklist [STARRED REVIEW]
“Get your schadenfreude ready. Stimson’s fish-out-of-water memoir is chockablock with self-deprecating, belly-laughable vignettes. Not since Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I (1945) has anybody seemed more ill-suited to country life. And yet this born-and-bred Midwestern city dweller, having run up an enormous tab at her local Vermont country store, thinks, “Maybe I could run a quaint country store.” Visions of herself, husband John, and their Bernese Mountain dog, Eloise, greeting delighted customers with homemade breads and soups and cozy woodstove fires eclipsed all logic. They bought the store. Which sounds ominously like the phrase, they bought the farm. Which it may as well have been in the case of this former wholesale book businesswoman who seemed hell-bent on proving she had more money and credit than brains. Naturally, first thing, Stimson rearranged the store to suit her well-intentioned yuppie sensibilities. The locals stayed away in droves. Indeed, her first customers—staid, khaki-and-sensible-shoe-wearing native Vermonters—took one look at her “swingy” orange and purple outfit accessorized with jangly jewelry and thought she was a fortune teller. The experience foretold a very long acclimation and heaps of hilarious anecdotes. As for this book—come for the humor, stay for the recipes.”
Kirkus Reviews
In her debut, former bookseller Stimson recounts relocating her family from St. Louis to the bucolic beauty of Vermont. The author and her husband John fell in love with Vermont on a getaway weekend. Years later, financially stable and in need of a change, they settled into a small Vermont town to enjoy the simplicity and beauty of the Green Mountains. That is when the trouble began, as Stimson brought in an out-of-state contractor and crew rather than hire local folks to fix her house. Then, in an impulsive moment, she bought the local country store with hopes of turning it into a high-volume gourmet shop. Though nothing really went as planned, the beauty of Vermont and its changing seasons gave Stimson solace. "There is no more naturally beautiful place I have ever been," she writes, "and I have been to a bunch of them." The author dramatizes the age-old conundrum of newcomers versus old-timers and the difficulties of fitting in--even if acceptance, in this case, only meant that the locals would not boycott the store after she moved the bread rack from the back of the store to the front, near the registers. Meanwhile, cats, dogs, sheep, chickens, goats and skunks traipsed through their idyllic setting, biting the minister and generally running amok. In a humorous, self-deprecating style, the author examines a variety of questions about her new life: In Vermont, what constitutes an emergency? When can you call 911? With aplomb, Stimson describes her rural Vermont setting, the changing seasons and what drew her to the state. A section of recipes--including "Lovely Fluffy Quiche" and "John's Grandmother's Roszke Cookies"--and the obituaries of three pets round out the volume. A quick, light book to keep around as a pick-me-up.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781581576924
  • Publisher: Countryman Press, The
  • Publication date: 10/11/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 160,312
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Ellen Stimson
Ellen Stimson is blessed with a wild pack of children; not-so-wild but completely adorable husband; and a very civilized group of chickens, dogs, and cats. Lately she's decided that she really wants a pig. She writes about the whole catastrophe from an old farmhouse in Vermont.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2013

    City woman vs Vermont

    Cute, yet a good warning for those of us who dream of quaint little towns. Good read, gave me the giggles!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2013

    A Laugh Out Loud Good Time

    Mud Season is a hysterically funny look at life in becoming a new Vermonter. There are many times in this book where you'll find yourself laughing out loud. From her gypsy style of dress to moving things around on the shelves in the store, the family finds that Vermonters are deeply set in their ways. From one mishap to another, this book is highly entertaining and should be read by anyone who wants a look at the light side of life.
    I bought a copy of this book for my daughter for Christmas since she recently moved to Vermont.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2013

    This woman knows how to laugh. Even if she has to do it mostly a

    This woman knows how to laugh. Even if she has to do it mostly at herself. Lots of silly hijinks with goats and an old country store in the middle of nowhere. I laughed out loud when she snuck her dog into the wrong hotel room and wound up facing a naked guest in her own state of undress. If you need a laugh this is the book for you!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2013

    Hilarious! Sheep, dogs, goats, and pie. Perfect for a lazy fall

    Hilarious! Sheep, dogs, goats, and pie. Perfect for a lazy fall Saturday when you want to read about the leaves in Vermont while they blow around your own yard. Great little read

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2013

    Initially, I really enjoyed her writing. It was like having a co

    Initially, I really enjoyed her writing. It was like having a conversation with a friend and having a really good time listening to her family's funny exploits as fish out of water. However, it soon became clear that this book was how she saved the day in getting her family out of the financial trouble they were in .  I felt pretty short-changed from mid-to-end of the book. But, in her defense, I did finish it. 

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 6, 2015

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2013

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