It’s got something to do with the “a’s” and “r’s.” At least that’s what I think.
I overslept one morning, and so, unable to make my own coffee, I ran into the general store on my way into work. Next to the assortment of Green Mountain Coffee is a large round table where the local guys sit and chat before working on the farms, in the woods, or wherever they take their pick up trucks after 9:00 AM.
Passing up the French vanilla flavored milk, I pumped out some hazelnut coffee—I know your opinion of me has just dropped a little, but it was a rough morning. While I topped off my cup, I heard it. That gentle bending of “r’s” and a subtle touch of an “h” at the end of an “a.” It’s not as hard as a Boston or Maine accent. It doesn’t sound like they’re prying an “ahr” sound out of words like park or farm which magically become “pahrk” or “fahrm.”
It’s a gentle accent mixed with the country twang that you’d expect to hear in any rural area, especially the mushing of “th” into a “d.” “I dunno, but somebody’s down ‘dere fishin’ fur trout.” To make matters worse, these guys talk fast and low, a style of their own. When I call our propane service guy—a local if there ever was one—I can hardly understand what he’s saying.
And that’s the problem, I want nothing more than to understand and to one day mimic the Vermont accent. This is a much bigger deal for me than it should be.
A huge part of my identify for years was my strong Philly accent. Water became “wooder,” “huge” became “uge,” and dog became “duawwg.” Ah, but it has since been lost when I moved north. Without my accent I feel uprooted, a wandering vagrant without an audible identity.
And so I am seeking a badge, a mark that I now belong in Vermont. I admit that I’m not a local, homegrown Vermonter, but I covet the chance to travel somewhere and have someone say, “You sound like you’re from New England.”
Then I’ll look them straight in the eyes and say, “Yep, I’m a Vermontah.”