Staytripper, February 2021

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Slide Away

Cross-country at Craftsbury Outdoor Center


Peace and Quiet Strolling Ripton’s Spirit in Nature paths


Couch Surfing

Entertainment without leaving your living room



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WARNING: Polaris® off‑road vehicles can be hazardous to operate and are not intended for on‑road use. Driver must be at least 16 years old with a valid driver’s license to operate. Passengers, if permitted, must be at least 12 years old. All riders should always wear helmets, eye protection, and protective clothing. Always use seat belts and cab nets or doors (as equipped). Never engage in stunt driving, and avoid excessive speeds and sharp turns. Riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix. All riders should take a safety training course. Call 800-342-3764 for additional information. Check local laws before riding on trails. ©2021 Polaris Inc.



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Go Your Own Way


There are two ways to approach midwinter in Vermont. You can lean into the belief that there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing, and head outside for whatever fun can be found in the snow, sleet or slush. Or you can give in to February fatigue, pop some vitamin D and hibernate at home. No judgment here. This issue of Staytripper, Seven Days’ road map to safely rediscovering Vermont, charts both paths in acknowledgment of the pandemic that’s keeping many of us at home. While we encourage the mental and physical benefits of exploring the great outdoors — and the positive impact of supporting area businesses along the way — it’s also possible to stay active, entertained and inspired in your own living room. So snap into skis or livestream a local film series. Hop on a fat bike or join a virtual book group. Maybe do a little of each. These are difficult days; make February about finding what feels good to you.

GOOD SPORT ............................. 4 Discovering the draw of cross-country skiing at Craftsbury Outdoor Center BY MARGARET GRAYSON


NATURAL ATTRACTION ........... 6 A Nature Conservancy artist-in-residence finds beauty in the wild 14



North Hero

Connecting with the land around Ripton’s Spirit in Nature paths




REMOTE RECREATION ............. 12


Virtual events to enjoy from your living room




St. Johnsbury


DESTINATIONS .......... 14 Fat Biking in the Upper Valley ............ 14 Free Nordic Ski Rentals ..................... 15 Ice Skating on Lake Champlain


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Shelburne 6





Middlebury Ripton

14 Thetford

Exploring the state? Follow the pins to find the fun in this issue.







ON THE COVER: Kamilah Journét in Craftsbury PHOTO BY EMILY MAYE



Cross-country skiing at Catamount Outdoor Center

Good Sport

Discovering the draw of cross-country skiing at Craftsbury Outdoor Center STORY & P HO T O S BY MA RG A R E T G RAYSON •


ross-country skiing, when well executed, is a graceful embrace of physics — a delicate balance of velocity, gravity, friction, force and drag. Driving up the dirt road to Craftsbury Outdoor Center in northeastern Vermont, I watched in awe as skiers swept across the hillsides and darted in and out of the treeline like birds. It was a sunny day in January, and the skiers looked like they were rejoicing. Somehow, they manipulated the skinny boards attached to their feet to glide where they wanted to glide and grip where they wanted to grip, resulting in a smooth motion and remarkable momentum. I pictured myself among them and thought, I am absolutely going to eat it. I consider myself a competent downhill skier, but cross-country skiing has always felt like an entirely different beast. It requires going uphill, for one thing, and frankly that was reason enough for me to avoid it for many years — why do for myself what a chair lift can do for me? But given the circumstances of this winter, I have decided to embrace any outdoor activity that presents itself. 4


After a few hours of skiing at Craftsbury, I can report with confidence: It’s fun even if you’re terrible at it. The outdoor center opened in the 1970s on the grounds of what had once been a boys’ school

I can report with confidence: It’s fun even if you’re terrible at it. called Cutler Academy. Its original owners, the Spring family, sold the property in 2008 to Dick Dreissigacker and Judy Geer, who turned it into a nonprofit. In the winter, the center boasts 105 kilometers of groomed trails for skiing, along with options for snowshoeing and fat biking. During the summer, runners, cyclists and scullers use the property, and it hosts camps for kids.

The center has also made a name for itself turning out Olympians. Six cross-country skiers who trained with its Green Racing Project team went on to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Two days before a friend and I met at Craftsbury, we made reservations online. This is required of all visitors, even those with season passes. The practice allows the center to manage its capacity and keep track of its guests. Walk-in reservations are available only if there’s room, so a little advanced online planning is worthwhile. I arrived to find a line of cars checking in at a hut, but once I told a parking lot attendant about my reservation, he directed me to a lower lot. From there, it took just minutes to buy a day pass and snap into my rental skis. For $25, I got a day’s worth of skiing, plus skis, boots and poles. At a downhill mountain, that easily could cost $150. The outdoor center, a cozy-looking wooden building with a wraparound deck and benches, had the vibe I associate with downhill ski resorts of 20 years ago. I imagined I could stash my boots under a bench and they’d be there when

INFO Craftsbury Outdoor Center, 535 Lost Nation Rd., Craftsbury, 586-7767,

I got back. Within view, winter biathletes, who compete in both skiing and rifle shooting, took aim at a target range. Employees patrolled to enforce social distancing and masking. While masks aren’t technically required once “vigorous outdoor activity” has commenced, I saw most people wearing them even out on the trails. The center also requires that all visitors be in-state residents or certify they have completed a 14-day quarantine if traveling from elsewhere. Lodging is available for those who need a break from their lives (and cell service) for longer than a day; accommodations include cabins and cottages, as well as dormitory-style rooms. There’s an emphasis on sustainability and, according to the center’s website, the rooms are “largely heated by a system fueled by wood, solar hot water, and waste heat from the snowmaking generator.” The lodge, however, is closed to day guests. As I snapped into my skis, I eavesdropped on conversations around me. A father reassured his tiny daughter that he would teach her to ski, promising that it would be fun. (The child

did not seem convinced.) Another man told his companion how he’d skied the entire previous winter using just one pole after having shoulder surgery. Meanwhile, my friend couldn’t get her boots into her newly purchased skis. We fumbled around for a few minutes like two toddlers trying to tie a pair of shoes. When she was finally snapped in, we set off. Our pace was more akin to a shuffle than a glide, but that was fine. Crosscountry skiing, at its least elegant, is walking, and I’m great at walking. It was a gorgeous day, and Craftsbury Outdoor Center was the perfect place to enjoy it. Trails loop through trees and around multiple ponds and lakes. One trail took us past a red barn, set like a pastoral dream on a snowy hill overlooking the valley. On another, we passed over a small bridge. Even on the easiest green runs, which we skied exclusively, there were hills that felt perilous. I could only imagine the challenge expert skiers were facing on black diamond runs. As we navigated down one hill, an oncoming

Craftsbury staffer paused his snowmobile, behind which he was dragging a snow groomer, to give us plenty of space to maneuver. “Don’t forget, if you ever get to a hill that’s too much, you can always take off your skis and walk,” he told us cheerfully. “There’s no shame in it.” It was hard work. I sweated through my mask and, at one point, flopped over into a pile of snow for a breather. But the effort was well worth the zen state I achieved out in the woods, feeling like Robert Frost as I observed the sunlight peeking between frozen branches. It would take a lot to make me forget about the pandemic, but the quiet of the Craftsbury trails came close. My friend and I lasted about two hours — not bad for a pair of newbies — and called it a day, strolling contentedly back toward our cars. Sometimes in yoga classes, instructors talk about “waking up” certain muscle groups, and on that walk I was newly aware of my hip flexors, back and shoulders. Cross-country skiing, despite my earlier reluctance, had been just what my body and my brain needed. m SEVEN DAYS STAYTRIPPER FEBRUARY 2021



Natural Attraction

A Nature Conservancy artist-in-residence finds beauty in the wild BY A M Y L IL LY •

Clockwise from left: Elizabeth Billings at LaPlatte River Marsh Natural Area; ash rubbing; tree rubbing; birch curl; Billings holding a tree rubbing; bark cyanotype; Maidenhair fern shadow




Based in Montpelier, the Vermont chapter of the Nature Conservancy has conserved more than 300,000 acres of land across the state since its founding in 1960. That makes the organization the second-largest landowner in Vermont, according to Catherine Newman, the Vermont chapter’s director of philanthropy. The Conservancy’s mission is to preserve land from development while also creating access to it through trails and boardwalks — though no dogs or bikes are allowed. Sometimes that access is limited in order to keep wildlife corridors intact and protect rare plant and animal species. Equinox Highlands Natural Area’s 1.5-mile round-trip walking trail, for example, takes up only a small fraction of the 2,600-acre preserve. At LaPlatte River Marsh Natural Area — not to be confused with LaPlatte Nature Park, which is owned by the Town of Shelburne and lies on the opposite side of Route 7


unbridge artist Elizabeth Billings had been aware of the Nature Conservancy for years but had never visited one of the 58 natural areas it has preserved in Vermont. That is, until she received a call from the Vermont chapter asking her to be its first artist-in-residence. Billings said yes and last September began exploring the three preserves that will feature her art installations at the end of the residency, in May: LaPlatte River Marsh in Shelburne; Raven Ridge, which spans parts of Charlotte, Hinesburg and Monkton; and Equinox Highlands in Manchester. Now she visits one of these every week, taking notes, photos, tree rubbings and more as she gathers inspiration. “I’m just loving doing it,” Billings said during a recent phone call. “I didn’t know these places were there. And there are so many other natural areas they’ve preserved. It’s amazing. It’s opened up a whole world.”

— a 1.5-mile round-trip trail brings visitors about a quarter highlight the sites’ natural elements. In Burlington, she is of the way into the 230-acre preserve. best known, with collaborator Andrea Wasserman, for an And at the 365-acre Raven Ridge Natural Area, visitors installation at the Burlington International Airport titled enter on a 0.3-mile handicap-accessible boardwalk, elevated “Maple, Apple, Birch” that features panels of carved wood just above the marshland grasses and ending in a deck and woven veneer. overlooking a beaver pond. A 2-mile round-trip hiking trail Eve Frankel, director of strategic communications for branches off the boardwalk to access the ridge overlooking the Conservancy’s Vermont chapter, had seen and admired the valley. Billings’ 2017 project with Wasserman and Evie Lovett in When Billings visits one of these trails, she wrote in an Brattleboro, titled “From the River, to the River.” The series email, “I spend most of a day [there], and the unexpected of outdoor installations honored the town’s connection with always happens that lifts me up and out of myself and into the Connecticut River. the place. Sometimes it is a conversation with another visitor, While Billings’ public art is typically planned well in or even the way someone says ‘Hi,’ or just the smell of the advance through the collaborative process, her conception woods. It might be the snow falling off a tree with the sun of the Conservancy installations “forms and shifts as I’m behind it turning the little flakes into sparkles.” making it,” she said. Now halfway through the residency, she Billings isn’t the only one who’s found enchantment in is taking her time absorbing the three natural areas’ sights, these places. During the pandemic, Newman noted, visitorsounds, air and, especially, patterns. ship to Nature Conservancy areas has soared. “We kept In a video presentation she created in December for the consistently hearing how people were finding respite and Conservancy, Billings describes her process: “The patterns some of that joy that we felt before COVID” at natural areas, hold me — their endless variety, their ability to seem the Newman said. same and yet always be different.” She points to the patterns On the Conservancy’s 60th anniversary, its staff decided made by Christmas ferns, each frond attached to the stalk by to dedicate an anonymous donor’s gift to honoring that a stem that’s offset rather than centered. During the phone connection between people and nature. Titled “Together: call, she described herself as a “pattern maker” who “works Nature Unites Us,” the art project is meant to give back to the in wood, glass — whatever the place needs.” chapter’s roughly 10,000 members — the Later, in an email, Billings wrote most per capita of any state’s chapter, acabout observing the shadows cording to Newman. The staff chose three at Equinox Highlands: “It was of its 11 flagship natural areas — popular stupendous … There was enough spots with important ecology and wildlife snow on the ground to make it feel — and gave Billings a call. all covered. The sun came out and A native of Woodstock, Billings studthe woods became a vast canvas of ied weaving in Japan, in Kenya and at the stripes.” Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. The artist has specific recomShe specializes in collaborative public mendations for visitors to each of ELIZABETH BILLINGS art installations around the country that the natural areas. At the Equinox Highlands, she suggested looking for the “huge aspens and all the fallen trees there, too — they make amazing patterns. The energy there is rejuvenating.” At Equinox and Raven Ridge, Billings advised looking for tip-ups — downed trees with their root systems exposed like a wall. At Raven Ridge, it’s the ledges that excite her. “Take the lower path,” she recommended. And at LaPlatte, look for “the beeches, and the curves of the river. The ice, yes, the ice! Talk about patterns. And look up, look at the branches, leafless, in the sky. The patterns are endlessly beautiful.” Billings is still pondering the forms her installations will take, but she divulged that LaPlatte’s will be a live-edge bench whose curve will echo the river it overlooks. At present, she is creating seasonal journals filled with sketches and notes that the Conservancy will publish on its website. The aim of the project, Billings said, is “to work with the hills, the trees, the rock formations. It’s harmonizing with the landscape and accentuating aspects of it, helping you to pay attention in new ways.” She encourages visitors to do their own looking in the meantime: “Mostly, I would say, just go,” Billings said. “You never know what will happen, but you will feel so much more whole after being out and about — connecting, looking and listening. Why is it so easy to forget that?” m DARIA BISHOP

Look at the branches, leafless, in the sky. The patterns are endlessly beautiful.

INFO Learn more about LaPlatte River Marsh, Raven Ridge and Equinox Highlands natural areas at SEVEN DAYS STAYTRIPPER FEBRUARY 2021


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Food for Body and Soul Connecting with the land around Ripton’s Spirit in Nature paths S T ORY & P HOT O S BY M E L I S S A PA S A N EN •


n preparation for a recent daytrip to Ripton, my husband and I threw snowshoes, hiking poles and various clothing layers into the car. I filled up our water bottles. Then I departed from my usual modus operandi. I pretty much cannot leave for any excursion without tucking fruit, nuts and a granola bar in my bag. My husband claims that, on longer trips, I could feed an entire family for a week on the food I bring along “just in case.” But on a Saturday early in January, our destination, SPIRIT IN NATURE INTERFAITH PATH SANCTUARY in Ripton, was far from a serious hike, so I dared to venture out sans serious provisions. Even so, we had mapped out several potential stops for nourishment along the one-hour drive from South Burlington. The Spirit in Nature sign first caught our eye on the way back from an early October hike up Mount Moosalamoo, and we pulled off Goshen Road into the parking lot to check it out. The welcome board map showed a network of 13 intersecting paths representing different spiritual and religious practices — from Druid to Muslim to Native American. Tacked onto a tall tree at the main trailhead was a quote attributed to William F. Schulz, a Unitarian Universalist minister and human rights activist. It read, in part, “Come into this place of peace and let its silence heal your spirit.”

We pledged to return when our spirits needed an extra dose of the healing outdoors. That time had definitely come. But first: snacks. Tiny Ripton has only one option when it comes to shopping. But the fabled RIPTON COUNTRY STORE is worth a stop. (A New York Times op-ed penned by Ripton resident and climate activist Bill McKibben attracted the store’s current owners.) Here the walls are lined with oldfashioned post office boxes, shelves of free used books and old phone books — labeled “good for toilet paper” — and an array of penny candy. Customers can grab a basic sandwich from the cooler or compile a spread of crackers and Vermont cheeses. If you’re passing through on a weekend, I recommend fresh pastries from local caterer Lauren Slayton of Breadloaf Kitchen. We bought her tender-crumbed, not-too-sweet chocolate-chip-pecan scones ($3.75) for immediate consumption and, for later, a bottle of red wine ($16.99) from a new-to-me local vintner, High Rows Vineyards. Another option for trail snacks would have been NEW LEAF ORGANICS’ farmstand, which we had driven past on Bristol Road. The self-serve stand is stocked with Vermont vegetables, cheeses, apples and more. There’s also a cooler filled with Blossom Whole Foods offerings made at the farm’s on-site kitchen. The vegan and gluten-free peanut-butterchocolate-chip-oat energy balls ($6 for four), substantial chocolate chip cookies ($6 for two), or tub of freshly made hummus ($5) with some local carrots would power many outdoor adventures. (Delicious vegetarian entrées are also available.) Enough about food — for now. Fortified by scones, we proceeded to explore the Spirit in Nature trails, walking about three slow, gentle miles, BODY AND SOUL

Above: View from Spirit in Nature Interfaith Path Sanctuary; Breadloaf Kitchen chocolate-chip-pecan scone; New Leaf Organics farmstand Left: The Ripton Country Store

In the area • • • • •




Body and Soul « P.9 crisscrossing paths fluidly from Buddhist to Christian, Interfaith to Pagan, Quaker Friends to Muslim. As the organization website notes, these “aren’t running or conquer-the-mountain hiking trails; these paths are for spiritual, not Above: Hogback Brewing’s physical, fitness.” Jamie Sawyer and Snow cover was just enough to frost everything Katie Baas of Lucky Star Catering; beer beautifully but not quite deep enough to require snowand food at Hogback shoes or icy enough for micro-spikes, though both would Brewing be useful under different conditions. Paths are clearly marked, and the entire map is posted at a number of junctions. On this chilly but sunny weekend, we ran into only a few other walkers and one happily free-range dog. We paused at the start to look up to the sky at a natural opening in the trees where the creators had crafted a labyrinth, currently blanketed with snow. Winding through the woods, we crossed streams swirling under a veneer of ice and paused to appreciate the view of the south branch of the Middlebury River from an overlooking bank. We traversed Goshen Road to find more paths and the Goshen Brook. Everywhere were thought-provoking signs bearing quotes from a rich variety of voices. “Each soul must meet the morning sun, the new sweet earth and the Great Silence alone.” —Ohiyesa (Dr. Charles A. Eastman), Santee Sioux “Deep peace of the running wave to you. Deep peace of the flowing air to you. Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.” —ancient Gaelic blessing “El respeto al derecho ajeño es la paz.” [Peace is the respect for the rights of others.] —Benito Juárez, first president of Mexico of Indigenous origin “Nature is God made visible.” —Amma Mata Amritanandamayi, Indian Hindu spiritual leader



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Spirit in Nature opened to the public in 1998 on 70 acres of land belonging to Middlebury College. The project was inspired by a 1990 symposium at Middlebury College titled “Spirit and Nature.” A small group of volunteers maintains it with a tiny budget that mostly covers liability insurance and parking lot plowing in winter. The nonprofit’s mission statement envisions “a place of interconnecting paths where people of diverse spiritual traditions may walk, worship, meet, meditate and promote education and action toward better stewardship of this sacred Earth.” The Ripton effort, in turn, inspired six other Spirit in Nature sites around the Northeast — AMMA MATA including one in Norwich. AMRITANANDAMAYI After about two hours of walking and reading, our spirits were well nourished but our tummies were starting to grumble. We had a little time to kill before our après-walk destination, HOGBACK MOUNTAIN BREWING in Bristol, opened at 3 p.m., so we drove to ALDERMAN’S OF VERMONT CHOCOLATE SHOP in Monkton. The Aldermans owned what was the Monkton General Store for more than a dozen years; a year ago they began to focus on the chocolate side business that Darcee Alderman had started for fun in 2017. Among her confections are chocolate caramel pretzel clusters ($4.99 per bag), chocolate-enrobed potato chips ($6.99 per bag) and lustrously gilded truffles (three for $2.50). Darcee also makes hot chocolate bombs and sticks. These hard chocolate spheres ($7) or sticks ($11.99 for four) encase dehydrated marshmallows and Vermont-made cocoa mix. They would be a great post-walk treat to make at home — for those not headed to a brewery taproom. At Hogback, Jamie Sawyer greeted us warmly and seated us in a corner with a clear view over the empty bar of three stainless-steel fermenter tanks. Jamie and his wife, Sam, who is the brewer, bought the small brewery a little more than two years ago. Katie Baas operates her Lucky Star Catering business from the on-site kitchen and also provides the food for the taproom, which is currently open Fridays and Saturdays. We ordered glasses of Drake, Smith & Co., Hogback’s toasty, bitter-edged American brown ale, and Patricia Alice, a tart, crisp, strawberry-rhubarb sour. To pair with our beer, we selected from the specials menu a hefty pulled-pork burrito and a seven-layer dip with beans, fresh salsa, avocado, shredded cabbage and pickled red onions. Our final purchase of the day was a four-pack of Get Out of Dodge!, brewed with local hops and malt and billed as “an Addison County IPA.” We had connected with the Addison County landscape by foot, and now we would take home a taste of that landscape to drink.

Nature is God made visible.

Darcee Alderman at Alderman’s of Vermont Chocolate

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Remote Recreation Virtual events to enjoy from your living room BY K RI ST E N RAVI N •


ometimes a staycation means checking into a cute B&B in a neighboring town and exploring the local attractions. Other times, particularly during the era of physical distancing, it means finding creative ways to have fun right in your own home. We’ve compiled a wide range of virtual events from Vermont organizations, including concerts, lectures, book groups, art classes, film series, wellness courses and kids’ activities. With so much online programming, you’ll barely have to leave your couch — except to get up for food delivery, of course. Browse the calendar at for more online and in-person happenings around the state.

Books and Words Winter Season Book Group, monthly through April, 6:30 p.m. Free; preregister.

Also try... • • •




Enjoying literature doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. The Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh offers lit lovers a chance to meet up via Zoom each month to talk about thought-provoking titles that address historical and present-day topics. Upcoming book selections include Discovering Black Vermont: African American Farmers in Hinesburgh, 1790-1890 by Elise A. Guyette in February, and Holding Our World Together: Ojibwe Women and the Survival of Community by Brenda J. Child in March. In April, readers switch to fiction to cover The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

VOICING ART VIRTUAL POETRY READING EVENT, EVENT Saturday, February 20, 2-3 p.m., VIRTUAL AUTHOR TALKS AND BOOK DISCUSSIONS DISCUSSIONS, from Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, various dates and times, FOOD FOR TALK COOKBOOK BOOK GROUP GROUP, from Fletcher Free Library in Burlington, monthly,

Performing Arts Circus Spectacular!, Saturday, March 6, 7 p.m. $15-50; preregister.

Have you ever dreamed of running away and joining the circus? Families can help support circus artistry students by purchasing tickets to New England Center for Circus Arts’ 11th annual fundraising show, Circus Spectacular! The Brattleboro training center hosts this virtual display of strength and technique to raise funds for its outreach and scholarship programming — and to spotlight internationally known performers from companies such as Cirque du Soleil and Pilobolus. These talented individuals perform live from around the world and stream straight to audience members’ screens.




Circus Spectacular!

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Lectures and Seminars




Vermont Historical Society Third Thursday Lecture Series, monthly on third Thursdays, noon. Free; preregister.

Kids and Families Music and Movement, first Saturdays, noon. Free.

2020 was the year you were • FIRST WEDNESDAYS finally going to LECTURE SERIES, from fly the family Vermont Humanities, to Las Vegas to monthly on first see performance Wednesdays through May. artists Blue Man Blue Man Group Group. Then, well, • JAMES P. TAYLOR OUTDOOR everything happened. ADVENTURE SPEAKER SERIES, Luckily, River Arts has a from the Green Mountain Club in connection: Isaac Eddy, a former Blue Waterbury Center, select dates through Man and current Hyde Park resident, is March, 7 p.m. on the Morrisville arts nonprofit’s board. • GREAT DECISIONS, from the Vermont On first Saturdays through June, Council on World Affairs, every River Arts presents Music and other Wednesday, February 10 Movement, a six-month initiative through May 19, noon-1 p.m. organized by Eddy to include Blue Man Group musicians and performers. Kids

Also try...

and caregivers hop online to sing, dance and have lighthearted fun with these seasoned entertainers.

Also try... •

MONTSHIRE AT HOME: VIRTUAL WORKSHOP SERIES, from the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, select dates in February. GUEST ARTIST SERIES, from the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association in Colchester, select Thursdays through May, 6:30-8 p.m. EVOKIDS YOGA (ages 2 through 5), from Evolution Prenatal + Family Yoga Center in Burlington, Tuesdays, 9-9:30 a.m.

Art Classes and Shows BCA Home Studio, various dates and times. Prices vary; preregister.

“The mission of Burlington City Arts is to nurture a dynamic environment through the arts that makes quality experiences accessible to a broad audience,” reads the Queen City art nonprofit’s website. To that end, BCA offers myriad programs, including BCA Home Studio, an online platform for art and activities. This winter’s remote class offerings include Collage Night on February 12 and four-week Still Life Painting and Digital Photo courses starting February 16 and March 1, respectively. Visit to browse additional upcoming classes and to see cost and registration information.


Think you know Vermont? Chances are there’s still a thing or two that might surprise even the most avid Green Mountain State enthusiCOURTESY OF CARRI EW IG G LE ast. The Vermont SW O RT Historical Society H Third Thursday Lecture Series gives scholars the floor to reveal fresh research and ideas about the state. On February 18, David Susan Schulten Work, professor of history at Tacoma Community College in Washington State, speaks on “The Buffalo Soldiers in Vermont, 1909-1913,” highlighting a Black army regiment’s arrival in Burlington. On March 18, University of Denver history professor and department chair Susan Schulten elucidates an influential 19th-century educator in “The Graphic Reach of Emma Willard.”


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Health and Wellness

Livestream cycling and fitness classes, various dates and times. Free in February and March.

Also try... • • •








Folks with digital devices have access to the worlds of antiquarian booksellers, teen percussionists and American Civil Liberties Union attorneys through the Woodstock Vermont Film Series. The 11th season of this annual series continues through mid-April with contemporary documentaries that provide insight into distinctive cultures and historical moments. Check out the 2020 doc Life in Synchro between February 11 and 14 for an inside look at the lesser-known sport of synchronized ice skating.


INTRODUCTION TO FOREST BATHING, from Nature Connection Guide, ongoing. SLOW FLOW MOVEMENT, Yoga and Dance, Mondays at 8:45 a.m. and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. MEDITATION SITTING GROUPS, from Vermont Insight Meditation Center in Brattleboro, various dates and times.

Woodstock Vermont Film Series, select dates through mid-April. $9-12 for individual films; $27-145 for multi-film passes.


Movies and Film Series


Also try...


A healthy dose of rest and relaxation is good for the soul, but let’s not forget to move. REV Indoor Cycling in South Burlington is opening its digital R EA M S TIM SK A | D E.CO TY T M HA doors with free access to livestream L O © cycling and off-bike fitness classes throughout February and March. Donations are welcome. Additionally, REV founder and coach Sarah DeGray has developed an on-demand fitness library packed with 250 cycling, strength training, yoga, mobility and bodyweight workouts. Feel it out with a free seven-day trial before subscribing for a monthly fee.

“PRIDE 1983” VIRTUAL EXHIBITION, from Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury, ongoing. “GRANDMA MOSES: PAINTING FROM MEMORY” EXHIBITION AND ACTIVITY, from Shelburne Museum, ongoing. ALL ART WEDNESDAYS, from Helen Day Art Center in Stowe, Wednesdays, March 10 through April 16, 1-5 p.m.

Life in Synchro

SPLIT/SCREEN, from Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival and Vermont International Film Foundation in Burlington, select dates through June. and ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN FILM SERIES, from Burlington City Arts, 118 Elliot in Brattleboro, and the American Institute of Architects Vermont, monthly through April, SUSTAINABLE WOODSTOCK FILM SCREENINGS, monthly, SEVEN DAYS STAYTRIPPER FEBRUARY 2021


A hockey game at the Great Ice! festival, pre-pandemic

ICE SKATING ON LAKE CHAMPLAIN Weather permitting, ice rinks will be cleared for daytime skating on Lake Champlain’s City Bay on February 13 and 14, with parking and entry by Hero’s Welcome General Store in North Hero. Visit or call 372-1795 in advance for updates.


When the winter weather cooperates, Lake Champlain’s shores transform into crystalline surfaces that beg to be skated upon. Gliding outside is a spectacular seasonal pleasure any year, but especially this one, when open-air, spaced-out activities are just what the doctor ordered. Every February, the Great Ice! festival clears the largest skating oval on Lake Champlain. The fest is canceled this year, but if conditions are right, rinks will still be cleared for the weekend of February 13 and 14, said festival In the area… coordinator Andy Julow. The festival’s history goes back • HERO’S WELCOME GENERAL STORE, some 16 years. Explaining its incarnaNorth Hero, offering skate, tion, he said: “It’s very quiet [on the cross-country ski and snowshoe Islands] in the winter, and it’s very rentals, as well as takeout food, bustling in the summer. Some of us got together and figured out how to • THE NORTH HERO HOUSE, get some people together in winter North Hero, offering special lodging — which used to be a good thing,” rates for lakeview rooms and suites, he added, noting the irony during a pandemic. • SNOW FARM VINEYARD, South Hero, While in previous years the open for curbside pickup and weekend event included a bonfire, fireworks, tastings, illuminated nighttime skating and

more, this year’s offering is simple yet satisfying: rinks cleared on the lake for the community to enjoy in daylight. Bring your own skates or rent them at nearby Hero’s Welcome General Store; gear is limited, so head there early. Folks are also encouraged to trek out and back across the frozen lake to Knight Island State Park — 1.8 miles each way. Some people walk, ski or skate it; others hop on their four-wheeler or snowmobile. Be prepared to socially distance during your time on the lake — and have fun. “When the conditions are right,” said Julow, “you can skate all across the bay, spread out and explore.”


Fat biking with Vermont Bike & Brew

Winter fat bike rentals offered by Vermont Bike & Brew, based in Thetford, 274-2277,




Jonas Cole has had a whirlwind first year of business with Vermont Bike & Brew, which offers electric bike rentals, sales and tours in the Upper Valley. Here’s how he remembers 2020: “I formed the business in February, spent March and April biting my nails, bought bikes in May, and in June started doing tours.” His clientele has been different than the one he imagined — fewer tourists, more locals. “Starting a business amidst the pandemic was a challenge, but the silver lining was all of the staytrippers who explored their own backyards on electric bikes,” he wrote by email. Indeed, many of the testimonials on Cole’s website are from Vermonters. One Norwich resident wrote, “Even though I have lived in Vermont for 25 years, seeing the beautiful scenery and back roads from an e-bike was so much fun!” Snowfall hasn’t made Cole hit the brakes; the biz is still rolling thanks to his rentals of electric fat bikes, perfect for packed, groomed trails. “The fat bikes just open up a whole new world

during winter,” he said. “This is a new, really approachable outdoor activity.” Cole runs Vermont Bike & Brew out of the Thetford house in which he grew up, and he wants his guests to fall in love with the Upper Valley, too. In warm weather, he offers self-guided and custom tours with stops for maple creemees, swimming holes and, of course, breweries. Some of his favorite local businesses, often included on tours, are listed below. Whatever the season, many guests take him up on his bike-delivery service. Said Cole, “I can bring bikes to their house, to their favorite trail network, to the top of the hill or the bottom of the hill — wherever they want to start their ride.”

In the area… • ABRACADABRA COFFEE, Woodstock, open for takeout, abracadabracoffeeco. com • FABLE FARM, Barnard, open for curbside pickup, • UPPER PASS BEER, Royalton, open for curbside pickup,


Gilbrook Natural Area


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Quincy Hotel OF ENOSBURG FALLS Take a snow break with us!


We are on VAST Corridor 7, between Jay Peak and Smuggler’s Notch.

Weather permitting, the Catamount Trail Association offers free rentals in partnership with the City of Winooski, Saturdays through mid- to late February, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., at Gilbrook Natural Area, 777-1621,; and with the Bristol Recreation Department, Thursdays throughout the snow season, 3:30-5:30 p.m., at the Bristol Hub, 453-3678,

Many Vermonters head deep into the backcountry to slide on their Nordic skis, but the sport doesn’t require miles of uninterrupted nature. A new community program offered by the Catamount Trail Association aims to bring Nordic skiing much closer to downtowns. The nonprofit has partnered with local rec departments to lend out 50 pairs of skis for free at several locations this winter. These include the Bristol Hub, right next to Mount Abraham Union High School, and Winooski’s Gilbrook Natural Area, about a mile from the city’s busy traffic circle. “We wanted to have something that was in town and was accessible by foot, basically,” explained Courtney Dickerson, Catamount’s outreach and youth program coordinator, who noted that the pandemic’s travel restrictions prompted these partnerships. Ensuring accessibility and affordability is key in Winooski, Vermont’s most diverse city, said recreation programs manager Jenny Hill: “It’s always a goal to make sure we’re serving every member of our community, so it’s important to break down any barrier to entry. We might get some folks out

Also try… •


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CATAMOUNT TRAIL ASSOCIATION’S WEEKLY WINTER CHALLENGE SERIES, an outdoor activity contest continuing through the end of March, INTERVALE CENTER, Burlington, offering three miles of groomed cross-country ski trails,

there who might not get the chance to participate in Nordic skiing otherwise.” While there will be no formal skiing instruction, staff will offer socially distanced support to people new to the sport, advising them where to go and how to put on the skis, said Hill. She notes that Gilbrook has wide and flat trails well suited to beginners; two marked loops will take skiers by frozen reservoirs and into the forest. “One of the really special things about Gilbrook and other Winooski parks is, you go from being in a densely populated city environment to feeling a million miles away,” said Hill.

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