Last night northern Vermont descended into the deep freeze, which is just how I like it when I'm driving cab in the winter. Cold people, you see, hate to walk outside. Plus, there is the added bonus of various car problems, such as my favorite - the failed battery. (In my own vehicle, I've installed a battery with the firepower of a small nuclear reactor, so I'm set.) With the students back in town and flush with cash, I saw a brisk business through the night.
One of my late fares was four vivacious young women, perhaps in their mid-twenties, and obviously old friends. Sitting shotgun was their de facto leader for the evening, an energetic and talky brunette. It seemed the group was staying over at her place on Shunpike Road in Williston for the overnight - a classic "girl's night out."
She pivoted in her seat and announced over the chat and laughter, "You all remember to get up early for the fabulous breakfast I'm preparing, all right?"
"Jen," one of her friends responded, "are you gonna tell us the nature of this awesome breakfast?"
"Nope," Jen replied. "It's a surprise. You better like cheese, though."
"Oh, God - not the cheese!" her friend said.
"Hey - don't dis the cheese. When I was a girl, we would have blocks of cheese delivered to our farm in Brookfield."
"Cheese delivery? You really are a woodchuck, Jen. You know that?"
"Well, the cheese was from Cabot, and we were a Cabot farm."
As we sped past the Williston Road hotels, the girls in the back went back to their conversation while Jen sat there texting at hyper-speed. "You texting the Holsteins back at the farm?" I asked. I get funnier as the night goes on. By midnight, there's no stopping me.
"Holsteins?" Jen replied, spitting out the term as if I had said "mutant orangutans." "Do you think that all Vermont dairy cows are Holstein? There's six major breeds - Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Ayrshire . . ." She sat with her eyes puckered and glancing up and to the left as she tried to recall her cow families. "In 4H, we had to memorize these things. Anyway, our farm has pure Jerseys. The "Queen of Cows" my dad calls them. They're smaller then the Holsteins, but they produce a higher quality milk."
"I got it," I replied, duly chastened. How could I have even imagined she'd be texting Holsteins? "What size herd do you run?"
"About 40, give or take."
"Do you have names for the individual cows?"
"Well, I know a few of 'em personally. But I've been living in Willston now for a while, and you kind of lose track. My dad, though, he names each and every one, and can identify them as they approach the barn. He really talks to them like they're pets or something."
"Well, " I said, "I guess Jerseys need love, too."
"Don't we all?" said Jen, flashing the sweetest country-girl smile. "Don't we all?"
For the rest of the night, I rode with visions of a hearty Vermont breakfast, replete with Cabot Cheese.