[Vermont] now faces an invasion of behemoth stores that could destroy much of what makes Vermont Vermont. To highlight the threat to this vitalpiece of America's heritage, the National Trust for Historic Preservation today named the state of Vermont to its 2004 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

-- National Trust news release,

May 24

VERMONT VISITORS' GUIDE

(Revised)

With the summer vacation season only two more gas hikes away, the guide's editors saw a need for a supplemental edition of "Vermont: In Your Webster's Under 'Quaint,' " in light of its designation as a vanishing state.

Unless travelers fully heed the state-restoration plan now under way, the day will come when our grandkids will experience the genus Vermont only in Nickelodeon reruns of that Bob Newhart show, the one where he runs the inn.

First and most obvious, any visitor lucky enough to come upon Vermont in the wild should not touch it. Don't play with it. Resist the urge to feed it.

Giving an endangered state a handout weakens its innate economic abilities and increases its dependency on tourism until, inevitably, it goes the way of Las Vegas, South Florida and other extinct species of the natural world.

For the leaf-peepers out there, please be aware that fall in Vermont has been canceled. The renowned annual changeover to orange, yellow and especially crimson was taxing and contributed to the state's endangerment, researchers tell us. By order of the governor, Vermont's leaves will remain on their trees right through this winter, and they will remain green. You are urged to peep in New Hampshire.

As numerous postings statewide now attest, Congress has just made it a federal felony to hunt Vermont, although anglers may catch and release.

Anyone found with Vermont in his or her possession -- or even a portion of Vermont, such as real maple syrup on hotcakes -- will be compelled by the courts to wear a tie-dyed T-shirt imprinted with, "I Am a Flatlander."

"Moonlight in Vermont" will not be sung until the new restrictions on walks after dark have been lifted and until travelers realize that the state bird is actually the hermit thrush, no matter how many times Sinatra may have crooned about the "sweet warblings of the meadowlark."

Anyone planning the pilgrimage to the Ben and Jerry's factory in Waterbury should note that the free samples awarded at the end of the tour are being reduced by half. There will be Chubby, but no Hubby; Chunky, but no Monkey; and Cherry, without Garcia. In addition, New York Super Fudge Chunk has been replaced by New York So-So Fudge Chunkettes.

To ensure optimum environmental conditions for the state's rejuvenation, the stifling and non-native growth known as Howard Dean has been eradicated. At last report, he was going to California and Texas and New York, yeahhhh!, and you are urged to conduct your meet-ups elsewhere.

For now, all visiting gay men and women are urged to pursue civil unions in their home states, or at least in Massachusetts. As you know, Vermont was the first state to sanction such pairings, but the resulting media invasion has forced our taciturn Vermonters to engage in conversation beyond safe limits.

It cannot be a coincidence, scientists say, that Vermont was not endangered during the presidency of one of its own, Calvin "Silent Cal" Coolidge.

Skiers, please note that the chairlifts at Stowe, Killington, Pico and Stratton will operate only halfway up the slopes this winter. A Bennington College study found that the state was in no condition to take you all the way.

Finally, visitors, do your part at home. Shop at your Wal-Mart before making a trip north. Do not shop at one of the four in Vermont. That will only encourage the company to build more outlets, precisely the dire possibility that led the National Trust to declare our beloved state endangered.

Fewer Wal-Marts, it is true, may deny Vermonters what the rest of us enjoy, which is great selection at low prices. But let us remind our Vermont friends that during these endangered times, all of us must sacrifice.

Author's e-mail:

stevetwomey@hotmail.com

Steve Twomey, a former Post reporter who now writes from New Jersey, vacations every summer in the Green Mountain State.