There’s a habit in some of the more remote sections of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. When you drive up to a person’s out-of-the-way home, you honk your horn and wait before exiting your vehicle. So the dogs can gauge your intentions. It’s a form of politesse. It’s also not too dumb an idea.
Locals call it simply the Kingdom. The full title purportedly was bestowed in the 1940s by a politician. But whatever the origin, the place deserves a special label. Even in a state as different, occasionally ornery, and notoriously freethinking as Vermont, the Kingdom stands out.
In the state’s northeast corner, it covers roughly 2,000 square miles, comprises three counties, and contains fewer than 64,000 people. Some 80 percent of it is forest. Distinct from the rest of Vermont in many ways, geologically it’s more Canadian than not, an ancient tectonic collage carved by ice sheets, wedged under often querulous skies.