At the western edge of Brattleboro, Vt., beyond a copse of birch and still-green maples, loomed a barn, a grand old barn of rain-darkened wood. Light streamed from its open doors cross-patched in white and from the hayloft above.
This for me was Vermont: substantial, proud, inviting. I slowed in the dusk to read the sign: Fitness Barn.
Inside were shiny exercise bikes and body-building machines. So much for fat cows and rural tradition.
New England's graceful barns are scattered throughout the Green and the White mountain ranges, but they house more than stock or feed, tractor or truck.
Not the Old Fragrance
Some barns have become country stores, fragrant with apples, maple candy and extra-sharp Vermont cheddar cheese. Others sell giant scoops of homemade ice cream--irresistible on Indian summer days in these pristine villages.
Restored and converted barns have become elegant restaurants, wayside inns, doctors' and dentists' offices, museums and antique shops. One spiffy model is The Inn at Sawmill Farm near West Dover, Vt. With hand-hewn timber and a decorator's flair, it's a place of studied elegance which, with pool and skiing and golf nearby, seems more country club than country.