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Central Vermont best of

SPRING 2013 VOLUME 1, NO. 2 $4.95




Take a Walk on the


Build. Remodel. Decorate. Landscape.


Celebrates 25 Years in Montpelier


spring 2013 | Volume I No. 2

Burr Morse 26 Features

A hardscrabble renaissance man.

by stephen morris

39 trend watch take a walk on the wildflower side 58 2

Build. Remodel. Decorate. Landscape. Compiled by Mary Gow

Where and when to see native wildflowers.

best of central Vermont | Spring 2013

by Lisa Densmore




Editor’s Note




10 Out & About by Cassie Horner



your community

17 Waterbury Leap

by Mark Aiken

22 on stage

22 lost nation theater

by pat goudey o’brien


what’s In store

32 salaam Clothing company

by nancy brennan

bright ideas

66 Tonewood Maple Products

by david goodman

what’s cooking

70 salt café

by julia shipley

Arts & Entertainment

76 A calendar of events


80 with lance olson

by david goodman


best of central Vermont | Spring 2013


Central Vermont best of

Spring 2013 | Volume I no. 2

Coffee Table Publishing P.O. Box 1460, Quechee, VT 05059

(802) 295-5295 Publishers

Robin Gales John Gales Bob Frisch Editor

Kate Carter Creative Director

Ellen Klempner-Beguin Art Direction/Design

Robbie Alterio Advertising Design

Hutchens Media, LLC Web Design

Ryan Frisch Advertising

Robin Gales John Gales (802) 295-5295 Keep us posted. Best of Central Vermont wants to hear from our readers. Correspondence may be addressed to letters to the editor, Best of Central Vermont, P.O. Box 1460 Quechee, VT 05059. Advertising inquiries may be made by e-mailing ctpublishing@ or Best of Central Vermont is published quarterly by Coffee Table Publishing, LLC, Š 2013. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly prohibited. Best of Central Vermont accepts no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts, artwork, or photographs.


best of central Vermont | Spring 2013




MY FAVORITE SEASON. How fitting it is that I should begin my editorial position at Best of Central Vermont with their first-ever spring edition. Spring signals rebirth, new beginnings, and growth, and these are the exact feelings I have about my fresh career direction with a new and much-needed magazine. I am happy to be on board with a publication that has so much to offer its readers, advertisers, and contributors. It is our pleasure to spotlight all the wonderful things that happen in Central Vermont through creative writing about the people who live and work here, and beautiful photography of the places we call home. Best of all, the region the magazine serves is my community, Central Vermont, where I have lived for the past 25 years. In this Spring 2013 edition you will find stories about community activism, such as Waterbury LEAP, and unique ideas, like the one Dori Ross had to help save maple trees. You can read about two longstanding Montpelier icons, Lost Nation Theater and Burr Morse, and learn why Salaam, a Vermont clothing company, makes clothes that are worn nationwide. Since it is spring, we must have flowers, especially wildflowers. Wildflowers epitomize joy, especially following a long snowy winter. In this issue we have a feature on where to go to see spring wildflowers that highlights Lisa Densmore’s macro photography, and a story about Salt café and its owner Suzanne Podhaizer’s use of spring edibles in her recipes. We also have a special section called Trend Watch. Join us as we tour the latest in innovative home and landscape designs, learn about new products, and share tips and advice from local professionals who understand the needs and requirements of the northern climate where we live. Enjoy! See you in the summer.





Mark Aiken Nancy Brennan

Nancy Brennan, an author and entrepreneur in Duxbury, wrote the book Active Against Cancer: A Guide to Improving Your Cancer Recovery with Exercise, after her own cancer challenge. In 2009, Nancy began Birdsbesafe, LLC, a cat collar design that protects songbirds from hunting housecats. She has a US sewing factory make the collars, which means she has a lot in common with Andrea Miksic, who she interviewed for the profile of Salaam Clothing Company in this issue. Nancy’s book is available at .

David Goodman

David Goodman is a journalist and the author of nine books, including Best Backcountry Skiing in the Northeast. He has also written widely on politics, including three bestselling books with his sister Amy Goodman, host of “Democracy Now!” For this issue David interviewed Lance Olson, director of Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center, and Dori Ross of Tonewood maple products. As a backyard sugarer, he has a sweet spot (and some burned pots and pans) for all things maple. You can reach him at

Mary Gow

Journalist and freelance writer Mary Gow is always inspired and impressed by the creativity and talent of our Central Vermont community. Compiling Trend Watch, a special section in this issue, she heard about exciting trends and projects from local design professionals. Mary is an arts correspondent for the Times Argus, contributes to numerous regional magazines, and is the author of history of science books for middle school students. Mary lives in Warren and can be reached at


BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT | Winter 2012/2013

Mark Aiken is a freelance writer from Richmond, Vt. In this issue he writes about Waterbury LEAP and their annual Energy Fair, held every year in April. When he’s not at his writing desk, he teaches skiing at Stowe, trains for marathons and triathlons, and tries to stay ahead of his own renewable home heating source, a wood pile. You can reach Mark at

. Stephen Morris

Stephen Morris is a contemporary of his subject, Burr Morse, who he writes about in this issue. And, like Burr Morse, Stephen is a “renaissance kinda guy,” publishing books under the imprint of The Public Press, as well as a magazine called Green Living Journal. He writes freelance articles from his home office overlooking Gilead Brook on the Randolph/Bethel line. “Burr makes better maple creemees,” he freely admits. You can reach him at

Pat Goudey O’Brien


Pat Goudey O’Brien is a freelance writer, editor, and publishing consultant with more than 30 years in the writing and publishing business. With a background in both amateur Little Theatre and professional Equity Theatre, she loves to write about the arts, drama, and Vermont’s theater scene. A chance to meet the people behind Lost Nation Theater was a welcome assignment for this issue. You can reach Pat through

Lisa Densmore

Lisa Densmore has contributed articles and photos to publications in Vermont and nationally for over two decades. She is the author of seven hiking guidebooks. One of her favorite aspects of hiking around the state while researching her books is the chance to photograph all the wildflowers. A former resident of Vermont, she now lives in Montana and travels back to the Green Mountains monthly. Contact her through her website,



COLBY MILITARY WRITERS’ SYMPOSIUM The 2013 Colby Military Writers’ Symposium at Norwich University in Northfield is set for Wednesday and Thursday, April 10 and 11. Named for William E. Colby, who founded the event with Carlo D’Este and W. E. B. Griffin, the annual symposium brings together authors, historians, and filmmakers who specialize in the military genre. The theme for 2013 is “Coming Home: The Hopes, Fears, and Challenges of Veterans Returning from War.” THIS YEAR’S PARTICIPANTS include the 2012 winner of the best work of military fiction, Michael Franzak, as well as the 2013 winner. The symposium awards $5,000 to the best work of fiction or non-fiction written in the preceding year. According to Professor Andrew Knauf, they will be joined by three distinguished guests: historian and former Dartmouth College president James E. Wright, author of Those Who Have Borne the Battle; former Colby winner and Rhodes Scholar Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn and What It Is Like to Go to War; and memoirist Dave McIntyre, author of Centerline. These three scholar/writers comprise the symposium portion of the two-day event, as well as a Thursday afternoon panel discussion of the year’s theme and a question-and-answer session with the university’s student body. On Thursday evening, the event closes 10



with the “Meet the Authors” dinner, featuring international dishes from regions featured in the authors’ books. The activities for the Symposium also include hour-long book presentations, book signings, and opportunities for students to meet with speakers. The general public can attend any or all of the event by contacting Professor Knauf at or (802) 485-2451 or Cara Butterly at or (802)485-2811. Right: Author Michael Franzak. Photo by Rob Tomlinson. Bottom Left: Author Dave McIntyre. Bottom Right: Author Karl Marlantes. Both Photos courtesy Norwich University. | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT



ADAMANT BLACK FLY FESTIVAL FOR THE UNINITIATED, THE PESKY black flies that appear with Vermont’s warm spring days come as a shock. “What are they?” newcomers can be heard to say with agitated disbelief. These little insects live to bite any open patch of skin and they don’t come as a party of one, but by the thousands. The townspeople of Adamant decided not to just stand there and take it, but to fight back with fun in the form of the Adamant Black Fly Festival, held every year in early June. This will be the 11th festival, made possible through the efforts of 60 to 75 volunteers. “Adamant is the black fly capital of the world,” laughs Eva Gumprecht. “The concept is if you can’t kill ’em, celebrate them.”’ The festival does just that with a Black Fly Parade, Black Fly Fashion Show, Black Fly



Jeopardy, Black Fly Pie Contest, live music, and activities for kids, along with a silent auction and wonderful food. The parade is a highlight of the day, with antique cars, livestock, costumed folks, and is always led by Pitz Quattrone playing the didgeridoo. It has been called the “Macy’s Day Parade of the Insect World.” Not only does the festival take people’s minds off the dreaded pests, it benefits the Adamant Co-op. “The Co-op is really a grocery store and a community center,” says Gumprecht. At 78 years old, it is believed to be the second oldest continuously operated co-op in the US. To have “more fun than is humanly possible,” as Gumprecht advises, plan to attend the 11th annual Black Fly Festival. The date and schedule of activities are published on the web at

Clockwise from top: Voting for favorite pies in the pie contest. Inside the Adamant Co-op. Live music by local artists. The Black Fly parade kicks off the festival. Photos by Paul Seaton. | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT




Author Kane Gilmour may have only lived full time in Montpelier for five years, but his roots in the area go back to his childhood, when his family spent many vacations in Barre with his aunt and uncle, Richard and Joyce Shaw GILMOUR HAS FOUND VERMONT to be a great place to stimulate his creativity. Last summer he published his first book, the thriller Resurrect, starring alpine engineer and mountaineer Jason Quinn. His second in the series, Frozen, is expected to be available by this spring. Frozen kicks off when the first lady of the US, who is on a cultural tour in Greenland, falls into a crevasse of a glacier. The secret service agents follow her but don’t return, leading to the involvement of Jason Quinn. Resurrect was a long time coming. “I began it in my head in the summer of 2000, I started putting it on paper in the winter of



2000, and even visited the Vatican,” Gilmour recalls. Then tragedy struck: he lost chapter sixteen! That, combined with his doctoral studies, getting married, and having a first child put the book on hold for ten years. But in 2010 he rented a cabin owned by Dartmouth College in the White Mountains, and the solitude enabled him to finish Resurrect. It is available in soft cover and as an eBook. Asked the question, “Who is Jason Quinn?” Gilmour remembers his own experience years ago in Arizona as a rock climber. The fictional character Jason Quinn channels the spirit of those rock climbing days. “I was looking for a thriller with a climber/

mountaineer,” Gilmour says. Admiring Clive Cussler as the consummate adventure writer but with a focus on boats, Gilmour decided to invent his own thriller focused on a daring mountaineer. Gilmour also collaborates with bestselling author Jeremy Robinson, and is involved with an exciting comic web series, Warbirds of Mars, with artist Scott Vaughn. For more information, visit Books are available in eBook form from and barnesandnoble. com, and in soft cover at Next Chapter Bookstore in Barre and Rivendell Books in Montpelier.

Above: A cover from Warbirds, a comic web series by Kane Gilmour and artist Scott Vaughn. Below: Resurrect was Gilmour’s first book. His second, Frozen, is a follow-up to Resurrect, and is due out this spring. Photos courtesy Kane Gilmour. | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT



THE WATERBURY INTERNATIONAL DINNER was held on February 9 at Crossett Brook Middle School in Duxbury. The dinner benefitted the Crossett Brook Middle School PTO educational fund. All those who attended enjoyed unique flavors from around the world made by people of ethnic diversity who live in the community.

We’d love to hear about your Occasion. Please send photos to

Clockwise from top: Ella Gannon (right) and Kylee Aldrich get ready to fill their plates with food from around the world. Irish Soda Bread, buns, quiche, rice, and crusty French bread. Variety is the spice of life. Pamela Clapp encourages her sons Adrien and Lewis to try foreign food. Red, green, and yellow peppers make colorful tortillas. Aero Antony and her sons, Jeswin and Yoshwin. Organizer Belle MacDougal (right) loads up Nancy Martinez’s plate with bright Mexican fare. Photos courtesy Waterbury International Dinner.






ENERGY FAIR MIDDLEBURY ENVIRONMENTALIST Bill McKibben declared in 2007 that there was no longer a debate: “Climate change is the greatest threat civilization now faces,” he wrote. Duncan McDougall of Waterbury Center took notice. When McKibben called for rallies and demonstrations on April 14, 2007, to urge Congress to enact legislation that would stabilize our planet’s climate, McDougall passed round an interest sheet.

“That was at our first gathering at the Waterbury Senior Center. It was standing-roomonly, so the following couple of years we moved to Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and then to Crossett Brook Middle School,” McDougall says. From that first gathering grew an organization known as Waterbury LEAP, otherwise known as Local Energy Action Partnership, and the event became the organization’s first Energy Fair.


This year on April 13, Waterbury LEAP will hold its 7th annual Energy Fair at Crossett Brook Middle School. The fair will feature workshops, demonstrations, 70 exhibitors, and an expected attendance of 650. “The fair is free of charge and anyone on the planet is welcome,” says McDougall.

VERMONT’S GREENEST COMMUNITY Many Vermont communities have energy committees, but there is only one with a mission to become Vermont’s greenest community. “Our goal is ambitious,” says McDougall, who chairs Waterbury LEAP. The organization is a 501(c)(3) non-profit with a board of directors and over 150 members. “We believe that most people in our town want to move forward to protect our climate and environment, but don’t necessarily have the time or the information,” McDougall says. “Getting them the information: that’s our job.”

The LEAP Energy Fair features interesting outdoor exhibits, including Gary Beckwith’s solar bus. Photo courtesy Waterbury LEAP. | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT


Jessica Edgerly of SunCommon, with the solar array that LEAP helped install on the Crossett Brook Middle School (CBMS) roof. US Senator Bernie Sanders giving the LEAP Green Community Award to CMBS students: (from left) Oia Walker-Van Aalst, Sofia Minter, Lincoln Pierce, and Cormac Stevens. Nina Brundage and Mallory Wright with their exhibit that encourages people to limit their use of disposable plastic bottles. Next page top: LEAP volunteers announcing the Waterbury/Duxbury Solar Year, (from left) Alan Pierce, Vinamra Mathur, Jamison Ervin, and Lincoln Pierce. Botton: A fair attendee rides the Vermont Energy Education Program energy bike. Photos courtesy Waterbury LEAP.

If you wonder exactly what constitutes a “green” community, you’re not alone. “There are no clear measures in determining how green a community is,” McDougall says. Waterbury LEAP is working with partners like the Vermont Natural Resources Council and the Vermont Public Interest Research Group to develop a matrix that McDougall hopes communities will use. “Whether we reach the goal or not isn’t so important,” he says. “What’s important is that we strive to get there.” To this end, Waterbury LEAP volunteers have logged hundreds of hours arranging free energy audits for all municipal buildings and many businesses and distributing compact fluorescent light bulbs. The organization provides outreach in schools and other organizations, grants (as well as assistance in applying for grants) that fund studies and projects, and 18


initiatives like putting solar arrays on schools. And it holds its annual Energy Fair.

CAN ONE COMMUNITY REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE? Lincoln Pierce, a 9th grader from Duxbury believes one small community can make a difference. He believes in Waterbury LEAP’s mission enough that he became a member at age 14. “Not only does one community matter,” he says, “individuals can make a difference, even when they’re young.” Pierce would know: as a 7th grader, he and several classmates were recognized at the 2010 Waterbury LEAP Energy Fair for work they did in their science class’s energy unit. Pierce and his classmates studied the light bulbs used at Crossett Brook Middle School, researched alternative bulbs, and applied for grants. And what kind of difference did the 7th graders make? The school reduced its carbon footprint and saved the school $6,000 per year. The project gained the attention of US Senator Bernie Sanders, who was impressed that the project paid for itself in just two years. | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT


“We always spotlight student projects, and we have tables from Waterbury’s farmers market,” says McDougall. While the gym is full of exhibitors and booths, there are hands-on exhibits outside too; in the past, there have been solar bikes, electric cars, and a solar-powered bus. The point, says McDougall, is that everyone who comes learns something that they can do to reduce consumption, to maximize efficiency, and save money. Everyone who reads an article, composts dinner scraps, or attends an energy fair makes a difference.

EVERYONE IS A WINNER “The Fair is a place where people can get information from the experts,” says Ned Houston, LEAP’s Energy Fair coordinator. “We’re striving for a situation where everyone wins.” Homeowners looking for information about tightening up their homes can ask all the questions they want. Meanwhile, exhibitors get exposure to people who are interested in taking environmentally—and financially—responsible measures in their next home projects. Rich Rivers, who designs, sells, and installs solar photovoltaic systems as the owner of Suntied Electric, has been an exhibitor at every Waterbury LEAP Energy Fair. “The interactions feel more like conversations than sales pitches,” Rivers says. He doesn’t discount the benefit the fair has for his business, however. A significant number of conversations turn into sales, days, weeks, or months down the road, he notes. “We are trying to inform individuals, businesses, or municipalities for free,” says McDougall. “We also want to support companies that support renewable energy, energy efficiency, and emissions reductions. Finally, we like to use the fair to spread the word about our own efforts and to promote our own challenges.” For example, at last year’s fair, LEAP unveiled its Waterbury/Duxbury Solar Year in which it challenged community members to double the two towns’ solar capacity in 12 months. This ambitious goal was achieved in 11 months! So, who wins at the Energy Fair?... Individuals who learn about low-cost changes they can make to lessen their environmental impact. Business owners and homeowners 20


Above: Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin talks with LEAP volunteer Jane Brown. Below: Fair attendees learn about pellet stoves and boilers from an exhibitor. Photos courtesy Waterbury LEAP.

who come away with information about investments that can result in long-term savings. Energy companies who leave with lists of potential customers. And the biggest winner of all? The environment and the planet on which we live.

stowe kitchens

Waterbury LEAP Energy Fair Date: Saturday, April 14 Time: 9am–2pm Location: Crossett Brook Middle School, Duxbury, Vermont Contact: (802) 244-0944, Admission is FREE! | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT




Long Live Lost Nation Theater M O N T P E L I E R M A I N S TAY C E L E B R AT E S A M I L E S T O N E Some people say there’s no such thing as magic, but if you have ever seen a performance by Lost Nation Theater, you know magic exists.

This page, Left: 2012, Hamlet. Bottom: 2009, Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged. Right: 2007, Judevine. Opposite top left: 2009, Waiting for Godot. Right and bottom: 2011, A Mid Summer Night’s Dream.

All photos courtesy Lost Nation Theater



Andrea Miksic with some of Salaam’s clothing designs at their facility in Plainfield. PHOTOS BY JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR

When Lost Nation mounts a show in the space it occupies at the upper reaches of Montpelier’s venerable old City Hall Arts Center, the wide-open, rough-and-tumble gymnasium/auditorium is transformed into a gracious and welcoming theater where world-class performances unfold. And that’s the real-and-true magic. Attesting to that truth, the New York City Drama League named the little Vermont company one of the Best Regional Theaters in America. The New York Times has written praising reviews about Lost Nation Theater, and last year the theater won the Outstanding Achievement Award from the New England Theatre Conference for 2012. Actor, director, and theater educator Kim Bent is founder and artistic director of Lost Nation Theater, which he started as a touring company in 1977. The name “Lost Nation” is a long-used term that refers to large tracts of wilderness terrain, as in parts of northeastern Vermont. In 1989, Bent’s company settled into the City Hall space to do summer theater, renovating the center at the top of the hall for year-round use in the 1990s. The company is now Montpelier’s resident professional theater company, celebrating its 25th year at City Hall Arts Center. Bent’s wife, Kathleen Keenan, an accomplished actor, musical composer, and performer is the producing artistic director for Lost Nation Theater. She is in charge of the business side of maintaining the enterprise, and of producing and promoting Lost Nation’s extra-curricular programs.

The company presents events year round, with the dramatic Mainstage theater season running annually from April to October. Mainstage brings together seasoned local actors and musicians with professional talent who travel to Vermont to appear on stage under a Special Appearance Agreement with Actor’s Equity. Often other performers are retired from the profession, too, Keenan says, appearing alongside Vermont-based professionals who grace the Lost Nation stage regularly. The company also hosts theater performances for kids and schools, summer camps, special events, classes, and community-wide celebrations. It’s a Montpelier participant and resource by design and intention, Bent and Keenan say. “The theatrical season is carefully crafted to be entertaining and challenging, and to include a strong element of social relevance, speaking to issues important to Vermont and to the world at large,” says Bent. He and Keenan enjoy these opportunities to create community-wide events that integrate with Lost Nation programs, exploring and expanding on the community’s dialogue around important cultural themes. He and Keenan list among the most satisfying programs those that involve Vermont subjects and themes, including shows like “Stone,” written by Bent and based on oral histories of life in Barre’s signature quarrying enterprise. As the state capitol’s official resident theater company, “Lost Nation deliberately and prominently features Vermont playwrights | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT


This page: 2009, Mark Twain’s musical, A Murder a Mystery and a Marriage. Opposite top: 1999, Richard the Third. Bottom: 2011, Metamorphosis.

as another staple of every season,” Bent says. The theater mounts premiere performances of works by people such as David Budbill, Katharine Patterson, and Tony-award-winning playwright and director Emily Mann. “Sets, costuming, and lighting designs display the skills of theater artists from around Vermont and from across the country, as well,” Keenan says, “including several who’ve established long-standing relationships with Lost Nation, returning to Vermont to work on productions year after year.” Bent himself is a Vermont native, born and raised in Braintree. As an actor and director he has toured worldwide, working with such luminaries as Anne Bogart, Whoopie Goldberg, and John O’Keefe. He 24


studied theater at the University of Vermont, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and Long Island University, and has served on the theater faculty at Middlebury College, Goddard College, New York University, and Long Island University. Kathleen Keenan is an import to the Green Mountain State. She and Bent met when she was an active alumna in the theater department at Long Island University and he was doing graduate work and teaching there. She is a native of New York, where she’s composed and performed for shows at Lincoln Center and in off-Broadway productions. A Phi Beta Kappa, magna-cum-laude graduate of Long Island University, with a bachelor’s degree in theater and music, Keenan also received the School of Arts Awards for performance and academic excellence. Lost Nation’s official 2013 theatrical season begins in April, but the company has

been busy during the winter months, with community events such as Winterfest and the Montpolar Frostival. In addition to its dramatic season, the company participates in the creative and artistic life of greater Montpelier. This past winter, Lost Nation wove its Winterfest performance schedule into the new Montpolar Frostival celebrations. The collaboration included stage shows, readings, and concerts alongside community-wide interactive events to get the people up and moving, singing, dancing, and playing together during what is otherwise known as cabin fever season. For the future, “new and continuing partnerships with the greater Montpelier community loom largest,” Keenan says, taking advantage of opportunities to weave innovative programming into town-wide events and celebrations. She looks forward to partnering with organizations such as Capital City Con-

certs, Vermont College of Fine Art, the Savoy Theater, and Montpelier Alive. Bent and Keenan say the company has achieved an optimum size and loyal audience that sustains their annual calendar, along with generous support for the larger community. They remain committed to the highest quality theater on stage, as well as to partnering with the larger community to remain vital and relevant to Montpelier residents and visitors alike.

Mainstage Theater Season 2013 RANSOM April 25–May 12 Professional Premier of Musical Play–Vermont in the Civil War

THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP June 6–23 Victorian Thriller! High Camp & Comedy from Charles Ludlam

THE CEMETERY CLUB July 11–28 Poignant Comedy

MY BUDDY BILL August 1–11 Dogs. Politics. Hilarity.


September 5–22 AM Dolan’s Affecting Docudramadey


October 10–27 American Classic by Arthur Miller. Tickets & More Info (802) 229-0492 | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT



a Hardscrabble

Renaissance MAN



BURR MORSE AND HIS NEW BOOK, SUGAR WORDS HERE’S HOW TO MAKE the mythical new cocktail that is sweeping the nation. Well, the nation north of the 42nd degree latitude, anyway. Take two handfuls of snow and put it in a blender. That will give you plenty of “br-r-r-r.” Now, remove those prickly burrs from the burdock plant that attached themselves to your coat last fall and put them in for some texture. Next, add three jiggers of maple syrup, one fancy, one amber, one dark, and a jigger of moonshine for measure. Squiggle in some maple creemee. Finally, add a heaping teaspoon of hardscrabble dirt from a seventh generation Vermont farm. Season to taste with crankcase oil, sawdust, and manure (Jersey only, please). Blend, serve in a Mason jar topped with a pinch of P.T. Barnum. You now have The Ol’ Vermontah. And while you won’t find this being ordered at pubs throughout Vermont, it perfectly describes Burr Morse, the real-life equivalent of the Ol’ Vermontah. Burr lives and works on the Morse Family Farm in East Montpelier. He is the seventh generation of Vermont farmers in his family, although not on the same piece of turf. They came to the current farm in 1948, the year Burr was born. As it has become more and more difficult to make a viable living on a hillside farm, Burr has diversified in a way that defines the phrase “Yankee ingenuity.” In addition to managing the sugarbush that produces his mainstay crop, he operates a mail order business to ship his sweet syrup worldwide. To generate traffic in the winter he maintains trails for cross-country skiers. When that season ends, you are welcome to join him in the steamy sugarhouse for a warm sample fresh from the arch, or | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT


This page: In addition to maple sugar and farm products, Burr Morse grows and sells Christmas Trees at Morse Farm. Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur. Opposite: Flower boxes adorn sugar shacks at Morse Farm. Opposite below: Burr Morse in the shipping department at Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks. Photos by Claude Stone. Previous: Green Mountain Renaissance man Burr Morse, in front of a winter’s supply of wood. The cover of his latest book, Sugar Words. Photos by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur.



boiling pan. As spring turns to summer, Burr adds the maple sweetness to his creemee machine and also uses it to flavor his kettle corn. Meanwhile, runners, walkers, and mountain bikers are taking to those ski trails for summer workouts and races. In the fall, Burr puts on a show for the busloads of tourists who come up to take a peak at the colorful leaves. He also stages theatrical events and carves folk-life figures that are sprinkled throughout the farm gift store. And in between it all, he writes. He is a Renaissance man, Green Mountain style.

SUBJECT MATTERS Burr takes on life’s big subjects in his new book Sugar Words: Musings of an old Vermonter, a follow-up to his previous collections Golden Times: Tales Through the Sugarhouse Window and Sweet Days and Beyond. Big subjects include such topics as the nuances of chopping corn, his mother’s winter driving techniques, and the similarities between making great syrup and great moonshine. As a writer Burr Morse is a perfect balance of insight, warmth, and nostalgia. In an essay called Sweet Beginnings, he manages, in a thousand words or so, to recount the history

of the current Morse Farm, and the ebb and flows of the dairy business (it’s been bad for quite a spell now), and tie them to the unbridled aspirations of a new generation. That’s a lot of territory for a single essay, but Morse does it masterfully... and unapologetically! His Grandpa Sydney took over the farm and turned it into a showcase of Vermont dairying, the kind of place that finds its way onto the pages of Vermont Life. Now, many of his grandfather’s achievements have deteriorated, Burr admits, on his own watch. This is not a reflection on his initiative or work ethic, but rather a clear-eyed recognition of changing times. When the current manager of the Morse Farm cross-country skiing operation decides to re-build Grandpa Sydney’s decrepit sugar house and make it the setting for his marriage proposal, it’s a fitting, and touching, completion of the generational cycle. Burr is the scribe who chronicles the event, putting it into a higher context. As Burr says “I was born into the age of square bales and long summers.” But his game is more than simple nostalgia. When he writes about corn chopping, for instance, there is no gauzy filter of romantic memory, but rather the stark and gritty detailed recollections of feeling cold, sweaty, and one miss-step away from instant dismemberment. Similarly, he finds little romance about haying or picking strawberries. His father “gived up” on milking cows in 1966 and decided the future of the Morse Farm was in strawberries. What a romantic notion! Everyone loves strawberries, especially when they come from a hilltop farm. The only problem is nobody told Burr’s father about the occupational hazards of “nematodes, cut worms, root rot, leaf spot, deer, woodchucks, frost damage, tarnished plant bugs, cedar waxwings, and slugs as big and fat as the ripe strawberries they devoured.” The result was periodic crop failures that necessitated the entire Morse Clan being loaded into the pick-up and transported to the farm of Hezzy Somers in West Barnet for a day of back-breaking strawberry picking. As with most of Burr’s stories, he brings them full circle when he runs into Hezzy some 20 years after the Morses had retired from the strawberry biz. Burr expresses his admiration for the older man’s farming | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT


niques and comments that he must really love farming, only to be answered by Hezzy’s enigmatic “I think I like it... yup, I THINK I like it.” In the immortal words of a true Vermonter “Ya neva’ know.” Crop failures are a part of life on a Vermont farm, and Burr Morse is a connoisseur of them. Last year was a lousy one for sugaring. The year before that Tropical Storm Irene ruined the “tourist crop.” And there hasn’t been a lot of skiable snow for the past few winters. Burr Morse knows that if you keep your sense of humor that one seasonal disaster will likely be followed by an equal and opposite bonanza. The trick is, he figures, to have your fingers in enough pies that they can’t all fail at once. And if they do, you can always turn it into a new essay. In a classic case where knowing your village means knowing your world, Burr Morse has made his hardscrabble farm a metaphor for the meaning of life, and delightfully so.

Get Sugar Words Sugar Words is available from independent book sellers or may be ordered directly from Morse Farm, 1168 County Road, Montpelier, VT 05602. $19.95 plus $2.50 shipping and handling. Details at



Above: Gallons of maple syrup for sale at Morse Farm. Photo by Claude Stone. Below: Burr Morse, surrounded by sparkling bottles of pure Vermont maple syrup. Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur.





African Inspired, Vermont Centered, US Made


Andrea Miksic with some of Salaam’s clothing designs at their facility in Plainfield. PHOTOS BY JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR

IN VERMONT, YOU NEVER KNOW what enterprise might lurk inside an unassuming old red barn. One such barn in Plainfield contains bolt after bolt of fabric, rack after rack of sample clothes, and shelf after shelf of finished garments. Early one January morning, a handful of employees worked quietly filling orders, updating computer files, and photographing spring clothing. Several of them had just returned from a spring fashion trade show in New York City. It’s a busy scene inside this old red barn, which happens to be the headquarters of Salaam Clothing company. Andrea Miksic is the company owner and the sole designer of the clothing line on which Salaam Clothing’s reputation rests.

Her innate sensitivity of stunning patterns on cloth and her fabulously wearable designs are the basis of the entire clothing line. Early in her career, Andrea designed clothes for local women doing African dance, and those influences are still apparent. Salaam’s clothing pieces consistently feature flowing shapes that hug the body in certain places, yet also allow for easy movement. The clothes are comfortable and stylish, but not so trendy that they will go out of style next year. Andrea, a self-taught designer, says she pays little attention to fashion trends. Instead, she goes with what she likes. Salaam, which is Arabic for peace, makes clothes that appeal to women of all ages. | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT


Andrea cares about the middle-aged baby boomer who might be sensitive about the appearance of her arms or her knees. For them she adds cap sleeves and drops hemlines. Younger women like Salaam clothes, too, and gobbled up 10,000 Flippy skirts last year. The styles are perfect to wear to a fancy dinner, a night of dancing, or a stroll on the beach. Although the greatest focus is on women’s clothes, Salaam also makes a line of men’s shirts.

CORNUCOPIA OF COLOR All of Salaam’s clothes are made with stretch rayon knits that come in a wide range of prints and colors. If a large tropical flower print isn’t your thing, maybe you will like the subdued paisley, a black and white geometric pattern, or a solid color like purple or black. “Wild and crazy prints did great for us last year,” Andreas says. She proudly sources fine quality fabric from several old mills in Europe. “No other company in the market offers this many prints.” Salaam has two retail stores in Vermont; one on State Street in Montpelier and another on Church Street in Burlington. The larger Burlington store carries their men’s line as well as other brands for men such as Lucky, Ben Sherman, Buffalo, and Kangol. The two stores are centered around the Salaam brand, but include other fashion items and provide an important local outlet. However, Salaam’s five hundred (or so) boutique accounts across the country are crucial to the business’s bottom line. The buyers for these boutiques have the unique opportunity to customize Salaam’s line for their shops. Unlike department stores, “boutiques don’t want to buy 24 of the same thing,” Andrea explains. A buyer can pick specific designs and then choose the print. The boutique can have many one-of-a-kind pieces, showcasing many different prints. “The boutiques’ customers include Salaam addicts who are just waiting for the new prints to come out of the box,” Andrea says. Those same loyal fans often contact the Vermont headquarters looking for a 34


specific piece of clothing. Salaam’s website allows for easy 24/7 retail sales and their entire inventory is available. “Online sales grew by 45 percent last year,” Andrea notes. Store owners also use the website to conveniently place orders, and a website redesign is in the plans.

This page: An outfitted mannequin waits to be photographed for Salaam’s promotional material. Opposite top: Andrea Miksic examines a fabric’s pattern and texture. Middle: Shopping at Salaam in downtown Montpelier. Bottom: Andrea Miksic (left) works on a project with Sharon Velasquez and Gina Germond (right). Salaam has 8 full-time and 12 part-time employees.

HIDDEN VALUE—MADE IN THE US Like any small business, Salaam Clothing weathers the country’s general economic ups and downs. Currently on an upswing, Andrea feels pressure to keep growing the brand’s popularity. At the recent spring fashion show, she took a risk and doubled | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT


her booth size to better showcase her company’s garments to boutique owners. “It was a gamble,” Andrea says, because it was expensive. “Hey Jule, how many new store accounts did we get?” Andrea asks Jule Miller, the website manager, who responds by holding her fingers apart, indicating a stack of papers about an inch thick. “A lot of new orders,” Andrea says, interpreting the gesture, and then she smiles. The gamble had worked. Historically, other changes in the business have come from necessity. Fifteen years ago Andrea moved the manufacturing to New York City when, she says, “the state made it impossible to keep using home-based Vermont labor.” Ultimately, the switch has worked out well. “The factory owner has been working with me 15 years and he is awesome,” Andrea says. He handles her relatively small order numbers deftly and, she adds, “the quality is so much better now.” Does being made in the United States matter to her customers? Andrea says frankly, “When we started, we advertised it and no one cared. Now they care about it and it’s a good thing we’re ‘Made in the US’.” For more than two decades, Andrea has been able to match her creative design whimsy with customers’ fashion sense. She has also matched her business acumen to evolving needs of a complex business environment. Neither of those is an easy feat. Yet, as Salaam fills its red barn with a vibrant crop of new clothes for the coming season, Andrea, like a good Vermont farmer, looks ahead with hope that it will be another good year.

Salaam Clothing Company 802-454-1318, Montpelier store—40 State St., (802) 223-4300 Burlington store—90 Church St., (802) 658-8822



Salaam’s headquarters, an old creamery ice house in Plainfield. | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT


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hen it comes to designing and building a home, one trend stands out: energy efficiency. People care about the future of the planet and they know that conserving energy is crucial. According to Chad Forcier of Cushman Design Group, the trend for energy efficiency in homes continues to build steam as people look to express their interest in conserving resources and future energy costs. The technologies that are growing in popularity are: increasing insulation levels, air-tight construction practices (and testing), triple-glazed windows, efficient heating and cooling mechanical systems, and energy-efficient lighting, especially LED lighting. PHOTOS ON THIS PAGE AND PREVIOUS PAGE BY SUSAN TEARE COURTESY CUSHMAN DESIGN GROUP


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DESIGN INSPIRATION From the perspective of architectural style, the access to inspiration has become more available as people use resources like Houzz, Pinterest, and other media, both online and print. They are using this access to express their creativity and individuality which dovetails beautifully into our design philosophy. We believe in treating each project as a totally new and unique opportunity to help people achieve their dreams and define their personal style. Chad Forcier, Project Manager, Cushman Design Group, Stowe




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BLEND THE OLD AND THE NEW Strive for a mix of contemporary with antique or handcrafted elements. Pieces that are less than perfect are what add warmth and personality to a space. —Michelle Holland, Michelle Holland Interiors, Shelburne

According to Michelle Holland of Michelle Holland Interiors, a predominant theme this year is a return to color and traditional finish. The newest fabrics have more pattern and deeper hues. Colors include peacock blue, aubergine, and persimmon. Traditional metals, such as brass and copper, are back, but are presented as living finishes, uncoated and allowed to darken naturally over time. Traditional crisp white painted trim is also making reappearance. PHOTO COURTESY MICHELLE HOLLAND INTERIORS


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PANTONE COLOR OF THE YEAR Emerald is the 2013 color of the year. It is a rich jewel tone that is a beautiful accent color in a dining room or study. Scared to put it on your walls? Use throw pillows, accessories, and lamps to bring the year’s winning color into any room of your home. —Alison Jette, Design Matters, Home Design Center, South Burlington

TREND “While every homeowner has specific ideas on style, the overall trend is toward simpler living and low maintenance design, and accents that don’t overpower.” —Shannon Martello, Furniture World of Vermont, Colchester


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TREND We are seeing more made-in-the US products, such as Cambria, high-end quartz countertops made with our environment in mind. —Beth Nordahl, Bisbee’s Decor Center, Waitsfield




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EUROPEAN INFLUENCE Wall-hung toilets and sinks have been popular in European countries for many years and they are gaining here. They keep the bathroom cleaner because they allow the floor to remain open and uncluttered. A wall-hung toilet doesn’t stand out as far because the tank is inside the wall. These toilets can also be set at whatever height you want. Also, new toilets are dual flush, for water conservation. —Frank DeAngelis, Close To Home, South Burlington


OUTSTANDING TUBS The Cabrits, a new freestanding tub by Victoria and Albert, is spectacular. It has been winning all kinds of awards. It is very sculptural— shaped almost like a woman’s shoe. It is made of volcanic limestone, which is very good for heat retention. Think of how a rock in the sun stays hot; a stone tub has that same quality. These tubs are also very durable.


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WHAT IF? If a homeowner is making one improvement this year, what should it be? Window treatments. Light is one of the most important aspects of a room, and controlling light is equally as important. The window is often the focal point of a room, so what adorns the window really matters. The right treatments can add inspiration, energy efficiency, and beauty. —Gordon Clements, Gordon’s Window Décor, Williston | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT



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BEST PRODUCTS Pirouette® window shadings feature soft horizontal fabric vanes that let you control light in an entirely new way. Silhouette® window shadings offer transformational beauty the equal their practical benefits. Be sure to check out the Signature S-Vane™. Duette Architella honeycomb shades offer exquisite protection, superior energy savings, and a classic choice of fabrics, colors, and textures. —Nadine DAmore, Hunter Douglas, Burlington



FAVORITE PRODUCTS Roller shades. Not the old fashioned roller shade. The new ones have high-tech fabrics, hardware, and controls. They decorate and reflect heat. Ecosmart insulating shades with continuous cord top-down/bottom-up. They provide wonderful control over light, privacy, and drafts. Always a great choice! —Gordon Clements, Gordon’s Window Décor, Williston PHOTO COURTESY GORDON'S WINDOW DECOR


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s our lives become more hectic, our homes are our sanctuaries—our space to enjoy family, friends, and sometimes solitude. Savoring that space, our connections between indoors and outdoors are closer than ever. In new homes and renovations, in town and in the country, designs increasingly integrate home and landscape. Along with connecting to the environment, we are also choosing to care for it—with style. Energy-efficient designs and products are attractive and affordable, and they have become the norm. In the northeast, our homes have especially close ties to our environment. We live with the seasons and the magnificence of the natural world around us. Come along as we tour the latest home designs, discover the best new materials, and share tips and advice from local professionals on every aspect of creating a comfortable, welcoming home in our northern climate.


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FAVORITE TRENDS I love that folks are turning (or turning back) to more edibles, natives, and heirloom varieties in their gardens. It is a sign that we are all paying more attention and appreciating the infinite beauty of a more sustainable landscape. —Megan Moffroid, Broadleaf Landscape Architecture, Waitsfield ADVICE Simplify. Everything. Your life. Your home. Your gardens. Clean lines. Less clutter. Be intentional. —Megan Moffroid, Broadleaf Landscape Architecture, Waitsfield

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In Vermont, summer is short, but it can be very sweet. Outdoor “rooms” let you spend more time enjoying summer’s warmth and beauty. Whether it’s outdoor dining, lounging, or swimming, new landscape designs offer creative spaces where you can be outside as much as possible. Patios, walkways, lighting, shade structures, ponds, fire pits, and gardens all draw you outdoors and keep you there. | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT



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It can be a rewarding experience to expand the use of our sanctuary to the outdoors. Sometimes just adding a special feature entices us to spend more time outside. Some of my favorites features that are gaining more popularity include outdoor fire rings and pits, pots and urns, and wooden fences. —Cynthia Knauf, Landscape Designs, Burlington

LANDSCAPE TRENDS Two landscape trends—sustainable landscape design and serene landscapes—were big in 2012 and appear to be important again in 2013. I suspect they will be with us for a long while, as we continue to seek calm and peace in our busy stressful lives and become more responsible for how we live in our natural environments. Folks are becoming more interested in and knowledgeable of reducing energy consumption through appropriate house design, orientation and construction, and planting for moderating indoor temperatures, and capturing and cleansing storm water runoff with rain gardens and green roofs. There is also greater interest in using materials that have been locally and/or sustainably grown. Serene landscapes will also continue to be important. The desire to make our homes our sanctuaries is increasing as our lives get busier. People are extending the calm and warmth they enjoy inside their homes to the outside, by creating cozy outdoor living rooms for relaxation, dining, family time, and entertainment. —Cynthia Knauf, Landscape Designs, Burlington


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FAVORITE TREND We are seeing a stronger commitment by our clients to use locally sourced plants and stone for their projects. Our strong relationships with Vermont quarries and nurseries allow us to offer a broad range of local options. —Chris di Stefano, di Stefano Landscaping, Jericho


NATURAL SWIMMING PONDS Our goal is to create swimming ponds that look natural in every way. With a natural swimming pond, you have swimming in the summer, and in the fall it looks beautiful reflecting foliage and attracting wildlife. In the winter they can be used for skating or hockey. Our process involves constructing a simulated natural bog which keeps the pond clean without the use of chemicals. Pond water is pumped into the bottom of the bog where it is filtered up through several levels of aggregate. Wetland plants are utilized to aid in naturally filtering the water. Depending on which plants are chosen you can have consistent bloom color throughout the season. In certain situations/applications we have recently started running some pool equipment in the ponds as well. This would include UV filters which kill harmful bacteria through the use of light. With our natural swimming ponds, you have a beautiful water feature, a place to swim or skate, and a place to enjoy native plants and wildlife. —Marie P. Limoge, Landshapes, Richmond


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OUTDOOR LIGHTING Many lighting options are available that can enhance your outdoor space: path and accent lights, lighting built into stonewalls, and up-lighting. With lighting on outdoor steps, each stair can be illuminated. Up-lighting emphasizes and highlights special features in your yard. If you have an ornamental tree that’s a little different, why not show it off? With up-lighting you can make that beautiful birch tree standout even at night. —Marie P. Limoge, Landshapes, Richmond




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HOME IMPROVEMENT TIP If a homeowner can make only one improvement this year, what should it be? Paint is always the least expensive way to create the greatest impact. Also, do not underestimate the impact of pillows. A few yards of fabulous fabric can change a room. —Michelle Holland, Michelle Holland Interiors, Shelburne

ACCENT PIECES Incorporating special features to an outdoor living space makes being outside even more inviting.


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Every year has a specific moment when you know winter will not return. You can feel it in the mild breeze and hear it when the birds call to their nest mates. You can smell it in the air that wafts fresher and less stark. You can see it in the rushing, sediment-laden rivers, and in the landscape tinged with pale emeralds, sea-foam greens, and muted yellows. And then you know for sure that spring has arrived, because suddenly there are wildflowers.

COLTSFOOT, WHICH MADE ITS way to America from Europe, is the first spring flower to appear in ditches along the roadsides. Soon the native species begin to reveal themselves in undisturbed wooded areas. Trout lily, bellwort, purple trillium, and violets color the forest floor with their yellow, white, blue, and crimson petals. By mid-May, Central Vermont is a wildflower garden. A stroll down any low-elevation forest path discloses spring beauties, Dutchman’s breeches, mayflowers, and dozens of other delicate blooms, some common, others less so, depending on the location and your timing. Spring wildflowers are easy to spot if you know when and where to look for them. Here are some general things to keep in mind when searching for the season’s little pretties: SEEK THE SUN Most plants start growing when the ambient temperature around

their seeds, or roots, in the case of a perennial, reaches 50 degrees F. The snow melts and the soil warms up first on south-facing berms, slopes, and banks, awakening the earliest wildflowers. WATCH FOR WATER In addition to warming soil temperatures, plants need water to wax skyward. Moist soil, particularly riparian areas that are not flooding, and boggy areas encourage early wildflower growth. WALK INTO THE WOODS While quite a few wildflowers grow beside roadways, many species avoid these disturbed areas or require a shadier neighborhood. The dappled light on the forest floor before the leaves create a canopy provides the right conditions for shy blooms such as Jack-inthe-pulpit, hepatica, and wood anemone. Timing is everything. As the trees leaf out | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT


Clockwise from above: Painted trillium, Trillium undulatum, one of Vermont’s native trillium species. Round-leaved yellow violet, Viola rotundifolia, is an early spring wildflower, one of the first to bloom in April. Spring beauty, Claytonia virginica, a delicate woodland flower, closes its blooms at night. Trout lily, Erythronium americanum, gets its common name from its mottled leaves, which resemble trout bellies. It’s also called dogtooth violet, for the shape of its corms, but it’s a member of the lily family and not a violet at all.

and shade the forest floor, these spring flowers disappear. STAY LOW The lower the elevation, the earlier spring comes. Snow often lingers in the boreal zone (above 2,500 feet) and higher until mid-June. Deep ravines and valleys are also slow to thaw. Your best chance to see the most wildflowers is usually on low-lying, relatively flat terrain. 60


EXAMINE THE EARTH Certain species of spring wildflowers, such as columbine and white trillium prefer rocky, alkaline soils, but many spring wildflowers thrive in peat-rich environments, poking through the previous fall’s decaying foliage. The moldering leaves are nature’s mulch, adding nutrients to the soil and retaining moisture. For example, lady’s slipper, a native orchid, is typically found in the rich acidic soil in piney woods.

You’ll never see this showy pink-pouched flower in an exposed rocky clearing. WATCH THE TIME Some species, such as spring beauties, trillium, and bellwort, close up as the sun goes down and can be lazy to open in the morning. Take your wildflower trek between mid-morning and mid-afternoon for the best show. PICK THE RIGHT DAY Each species of wildflower blooms within a range of weeks or months. For example, Canada mayflower, a low-growing spring perennial with a cluster of blooms resembling a bottlebrush, flowers from May to July in Vermont, depending on its exact location. If you seek mayflowers in a certain area where they are known to exist, visit about 25 to 65 percent into the time period when they bloom. Earlier and you may see only a few specimens in their glory. Later and many may be past their prime.

WHERE THE WILDFLOWERS ARE Whether you’re a serious wildflower seeker hoping to check off a rare spring bloom from your life wildflower list or simply looking for a way to brighten up your day and get a little | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT


exercise, here are several Central Vermont locations known for their spring blossoms:

LITTLE RIVER STATE PARK, WATERBURY See wildflowers around Waterbury Reservoir, a popular recreation area, and along the trails through Mount Mansfield State Forest while getting a sense of the region’s history from the foundations and chimneys of old farmhouses dating back to the 1800s. Directions: From the junction of Route 100 and Route 2 in Waterbury, go west approximately 1.5 miles on Route 2. Turn right on Little River Road. Go 3.5 miles to Little River State Park.

EAST MONTPELIER TOWN FOREST This well-maintained trail network has gently rolling terrain that passes through woods, by beaver ponds, farmlands, and recently logged areas. Above: A colony of trout lily, Erythronium americanum, decorates the woodland floor in May. Bottom: The curious Jack-in-the-pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum, is a member of the Arum family. Opposite: Canada mayflower, Maianthemum canadense, often grows in dense colonies and is a member of the Lily family.



RESOURCES Wildflowers of Vermont and its companion book, Shrubs & Vines of Vermont, both by Kate Carter, are available at bookstores throughout Vermont and online at www. wordsandphotosbykate. com. Carter has noted the date and location of all the flower photos in her books, a great asset when finding and identifying wildflowers.

Directions: From downtown Montpelier, take County Road north for approximately 5 miles. Turn right on Haggett Road, following signs for the Adamant Coop. In less than a mile on the right is a small Town Forest pullout. This is one of many locations to access this trail network.

KIRSCHNER WOODS, STOWE This conserved natural area owned by the Stowe Land Trust on the north side of Tabor Hill Road has a network of woods roads and beautifully engineered paths through mature maple forests. Directions: From the junction of Routes 100 and 108 in Stowe, follow Route 100 north. Turn right on School Street. Bear left on Tabor Hill Road. Go 2 miles. Park at the lot on the left side of the road.

MAD RIVER PATH, WAITSFIELD The Mad River Path is a system of pedestrianfriendly paths from Warren to Moretown that hug the Mad River and wander through local woodlands. The woodsy 2.1-mile Millbrook Trail is part of the Mad River Path. It begins at the Fayston School on German Flats Road, heads south, and crosses several streams as it traverses Chase Brook Town Forest. Or you can head north on the Catamount Trail (blue blazes) to the Mad River Barn. | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT



Shopping & fun things to do in Central Vermont!

Morse Farm

Curling up for a good movie? Want a great snack for the kid’s party? Looking to ship a piece of Vermont to loved ones far and wide? How about delicious, fun Maple Kettle Corn from Morse Farm. Available in three sizes, so while you’re picking up a large 4-quart bag to send to family, you can pick up a small bag for yourself. Log onto our website and choose the right bag of maple kettle corn for you. They’ll handle everything, including shipping. The Morse family have been maple sugar makers since 1782. A Vermont Tradition! (800) 242-2740

Mason Brothers Offering a wide selection of reclaimed and antique building materials, Mason Brothers’ Architectural Salvage Warehouse’s 13,000-square-foot warehouse is filled with fireplace mantels, stained and beveled-glass windows, lighting, hardware, columns and pillars, marble and pedestal sinks, clawfoot tubs, windows, furniture, and unique artifacts. Check out our NEW WEBSITE! 11 Maple Street Essex Junction, VT (802) 879-4221

Salaam A savvy boutique on Main Street, featuring our own locally made Salaam line, as well as a fantastic selection of clothing, jewelry, and accessories for women by your favorite brands, such as Desigual, Lucky, and Ben Sherman. 40 State Street Montpelier, VT (802) 223-4300

Artisans Hand Craft Gallery Artisans Hand Craft Gallery, showcasing contemporary and traditional Vermont crafts, celebrates 35 years of supporting Vermont’s craft community. A designated “Vermont State Craft Center,” we feature a high-quality selection of gifts for home and personal adornment. Centrally located on the corner of State and Main. 89 Main Street Montpelier, VT (802) 229-9492


No. 9 Boutique No. 9 Boutique is your source for contemporary clothing for women, handmade jewelry and accessories, handbags, fun footwear, and sexy lingerie. We take pride in getting to know our customers, so we can carry the products they love, the styles they desire, and the colors they need. 75 Main Street Montpelier, VT (802) 229-0019

Shelburne Vineyard Winery and Tasting Room Join us for a taste, a tour of the winery, or a relaxing afternoon at the vineyard. Learn about our adventure growing grapes and making wine in Vermont’s northern climate. Then sip a selection of our award-winning wines or stay for awhile with a glassful while you enjoy the sight of the vines coming into bloom from our warm, inviting Tasting Room. Don’t forget to ask us about planning your special event here! 6308 Shelburne Road Shelburne, VT (802) 985-8222 Open daily 11am–5pm

Lake Champlain Ferries Three ferry crossings on Lake Champlain: • Grand Isle, VT, to Plattsburgh, NY: Open 24 hours daily • Burlington, VT, to Port Kent, NY: Open mid-June to early October • Charlotte, VT, to Essex, NY: Open all year, ice conditions permitting Public cruises and private charters available during the summer season. Visit for more information. 1 King Street Burlington, VT (802) 864-9804

Ben & Jerry’s Catering Looking to add an extra-special treat to your celebration? We’ll bring the euphoria!! Together we can plan a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream social to suit your catering and budget needs. Flexible enough to be the dessert portion of your party or the central focus!! From deluxe sundae parties to Peace Pops or cups and cones, the endless options are sure to delight all party-goers! We’ll set it up, scoop it up, and clean it up! Chittenden County (802) 222-1665 Central Vermont (802) 882-1240 ext 2287



Dori Ross in one of the sugarbushes she is helping to protect. Photo by Dennis Curran.




Tonewood Maple Like maple syrup?

You don’t have to settle for just buying a bottle of it. Now you can adopt the whole maple tree. That’s the premise behind Tonewood, a company based in Waitsfield, Vt., that wants to save maple trees while sharing their sweet bounty. Instead of just offering maple syrup (well, they sell that, too, in sleek glass bottles), Tonewood offers a unique adopt-a-tree program. For $120, you can adopt a maple tree through a local sugarmaker. Over the course of a year you, as a tree adopter, receive three packages: first comes an adoption certificate with a photo of your tree. In the spring, you get the Four Grade Collection, which includes 250-ml bottles of the four maple syrup grades. In the fall, along comes a Sweet Pairing: a maple cube and eight maple wafers. Tonewood is the brainchild of Dori Ross, a former marketing executive with Gillette. “I’m a Canadian, I grew up on a farm in rural Canada, so maple syrup is in my blood,” she says. Dori moved to the Mad River Valley 10 years ago. That’s when she got an intimate glimpse of sugaring. When sugaring season | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT


arrives in March, small sugarhouses that lie quiet the rest of the year suddenly roar to life, steam billowing from the top as sugarmakers work round the clock to achieve what alchemists could not: turning water into gold. “I’m inspired by the life of the Vermont sugarmaker and almost jealous of the culture they share in the sugarhouse and in the sugarbush,” says Dori. “I have a marketing background, and I decided that the plight of the sugarmaker needs to be shown to the world.”

SUPPORT, EDUCATE, SUSTAIN As part of the adopt-a-tree program shoppers can choose one of two Mad River Valley sugarmakers to adopt. The Vasseur Maple Sugar Farm and the Hartshorn family farm are both multigeneration sugaring operations. Beautiful black and white photos of the farms and the farmers are on Tonewood’s website. “People want to know their food source,” says Dori, a 50-year old mother of three. “When people look at a bottle of syrup, there’s so much behind that, and I wanted people to experience it. It’s showcasing maple products in a different way.” “I have a relationship with the farmers. I spoke to every sugarmaker in the Valley. I was looking for those farms that I could support and elevate their stature. If I could support them it would increase the likelihood of the next generation continuing on. It’s difficult to pass on sugarmaking because it’s hard work and takes time, and if the next generation can’t do it, they could just decide to cut down their maple trees.” Tonewood is part food, part mission. With Vermont now routinely breaking high temperature records, there is serious concern about how the maple industry will be affected. So Tonewood it trying to protect US maple production by donating a portion of profits to the Proctor Maple Research Center at the University of Vermont, a pioneer in maple research and education. “I hope to educate people about the plight of sugarmakers, and the impact of 68


climate change on small-scale farmers,” Dori says.

NATIONAL ACCLAIM Customers know that maple tastes good. But maple has never looked as good as it does in Tonewood packaging. Syrup comes in elegant glass bottles. Maple wafers, maple cubes, maple cream, and other products come in distinctive black packages reminiscent of fine chocolate. This is maple you could sell in trendy Upper West Side markets—and the media has taken note. Tonewood has been written up in Food & Wine, Forbes Life, Fine Cooking, and other national magazines. “I’ve had rave reviews,” says Dori of the company she launched in March 2012. “We’ve had a very busy year, especially the Christmas gift season. People loved the concept of supporting the sugar farmer, supporting climate research, and it was a really nice way for people to give the gift of nature and the gift of Vermont.” Dori has found that farmers give her just as much as she gives them. “What overwhelmed me was how wonderful it is to work with these sugarmakers,” she says. “I was climbing up Lincoln Gap with crampons with Paul Hartshorn. He was telling me about bringing oxen up to this sugarbush with his grandparents. It’s surprised me, being embraced by these families. Dori Ross can be found at the Waitsfield farmer’s market selling Tonewood maple products on Saturdays from May to October. She says that maple products and tree adoption helps connect people to their surroundings. “The simplicity of local food and the handmade small-batch approach to food— this is the way it should be. Keep it simple and keep it in the woods.”

Top left: David Hartshorn and son Paul and other family members tap 5,000 trees and produce roughly 1500 gallons of maple syrup in the Mad River Valley. Assorted maple products available online and at Waitsfield’s Farmer’s Markets. Photos courtesy Tonewood.

Tonewood 301 Glen View Road Waitsfield, Vermont (855)755-5434 | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT



Above: Salt comes in many forms and in many presentations at Salt CafĂŠ. Right: The cozy restaurant has only five tables, so reservations are recommended. Next page: Restauranteur Suzanne Podhaizer creates new, uniquely themed menues every 21 days. Below: More salt!






& Sumptuous



t 10am Suzanne Podhaizer begins getting dinner ready. She unlocks the front door of Salt, recognized by Yankee magazine for offering Vermont’s “Best Seasonal Fare” and epitomized by the New York Times as “Local as it gets…” in its travel feature on Montpelier. Strolling through the restaurant’s cozy five-table dining area, past the central chalkboard bearing the entirety of her latest menu, Suzanne pauses before a recessed shelf of books, which looms like a tall window, stocked with culinary tomes. Plucking one from the third shelf, she slips past the bar, and voila: she’s in the kitchen. Hardly a napkin’s pitch from the front entrance and Suzanne is already standing where each themed menu, completely re-designed and introduced every three weeks, comes to life. This deft transition from street side to stove side is like the speeded up version of Suzanne’s life, progressing from appreciative diner to self-designed food studies major at UVM to restaurant critic for Seven Days to now, committed to the countertops of her own café, a place where all her previous culinary endeavors bear fruit. Salt offers sophisticated dishes one might hesitate to tackle at home, such as chicken roulade with apricot-chutney filling, coconutcurry sauce, and jasmine rice with wilted chard. Suzanne ensures her menu offers only ethical-sourced local meats. To subvert

stagnant-menu syndrome, she launches a completely new, seasonally inspired, uniquely themed menu every 21 days. Last winter she pored over the Lord of the Rings trilogy, noting every mention of food in order to create her Middle Earth Menu, launched as the new movie debuted. Other themes have included the Monticello Menu, Comfort Food, Medieval Feast, and Spanish Fare. By 6pm Suzanne is sidling up to a table of four, bearing her water pitcher and encyclopedic answers to exactly where the ingredients of her menu originated. For example, those pork chops were raised and cut by Pete Coleman and his girlfriend, Jacqueline, at Salumi Farm in Plainfield, and that rice grew in Ben Faulk’s fields in Moretown, which Suzanne helped to thresh, hull, and winnow. On another night she’ll announce the Myer lemons and Persian limes grew in nearby Worcester and mention the lemongrass was harvested from her own small farm in Marshfield. And on yet another evening sometime in the future, she’ll delight customers with recipes they can tackle at home from her own Salt cookbook, in the works. Here’s a taste of what you might find at Salt this spring, using foraged ingredients. “What’s in the pantry changes from one day to the next, so I try to use ingredients in ways that don’t require razor-sharp precision, and I’m always ready to swap one item for another,” Suzanne explains. | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT



2 bunch nettles 1 bunch sorrel 1 large garlic clove or scallions or chives, roughly chopped olive oil blanched almonds lemon juice to taste salt and pepper to taste fresh fettuccine chèvre the bulbs of a few wild leeks

1. Put a pot of water on to boil. Also, fill a bowl with cold water, and a little bit of ice. Meanwhile, wearing gloves if you’d like, strip the leaves from the nettle stems. Rinse the nettle leaves and the sorrel. Use at least twice as much nettle as sorrel. When the water is boiling, add salt until it tastes like the ocean, and drop in the leaves. The sorrel will turn khaki, the nettle, bright green. As soon as the nettle is green, just a few seconds, skim the leaves out of the water and dunk them in the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain them well in a colander, squeezing out some of the water. 2. In a blender, combine the greens, garlic, olive oil, and almonds, and process until the mixture is a thick paste, adding additional olive oil, if needed. Taste, season with salt and pepper, and add lemon juice for more tanginess. 3. In a fresh pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta. When it’s done and drained, toss with pesto, and dot with chèvre.

Salt Café 207 Barre Street, Montpelier, Vermont Open 5–9, Tuesday–Sunday Reservations recommended, BYOB (802) 229-6678, 72


PICKLED RAMPS If you can’t use all the wild leeks (ramps) you purchase or find in the spring, pickle some of them. The brine makes a delicious addition to a “dirty” Gibson, in place of pickled onion juice. Use the pickled ramps any place you’d use a pickled onion: in sandwiches, salads, and the like.

JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE SOUP WITH FIDDLEHEAD GARNISH In spring you can often find overwintered produce at the farmers’ market, such as the Jerusalem artichokes used in this soup. The beans give the soup a thicker texture. If you don’t have beans, you could add potato to the soup when you add the stock, instead. olive oil 1 shallot, peeled and sliced salt and pepper 8 oz Jerusalem artichokes, sliced 3 cups stock 5 sage leaves 1 cup cooked white beans (or potatoes, to thicken the soup) 1/4 cup heavy cream juice of 1/2 lemon 16-20 freshly picked fiddleheads

1 lb wild leek bulbs 1 cup white wine vinegar 2/3 cup sugar 1 cup water 1 tsp mustard seeds 1 tsp coriander seeds 1 tsp fennel seeds 1 tsp pink peppercorns 1 tsp black peppercorns 2 bay leaves 1 Tbsp salt 1. Wash the ramps and cut off the green tops. Combine all the other ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. When the liquid is simmering, add the ramps. Let them simmer in the liquid for two minutes, then remove from the heat. Pour into a heatproof container, such as a ball jar, and place in the fridge. Let pickle overnight, or until you’re ready to eat them.

1. Place a heavy saucepan over medium heat. When it is hot, add the olive oil, and when the oil shimmers, add the shallots, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and stir. When the shallots are translucent, add the Jerusalem artichokes and season a bit more. Cook, stirring occasionally, and if the artichoke pieces do not begin to take on a bit of color, turn up the heat a little bit so that they do. 2. Once there’s some coloration, add the stock, beans, and sage; simmer until the artichokes are tender, even falling apart. Remove from the heat and purée the mixture with an immersion blender or food processor. Return the soup to the saucepan, place the saucepan over low heat, and add the cream. 3. Begin to season the soup with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, adding them little by little and tasting, until the acidity and salinity are in balance with the sweet earthiness of the artichokes. 4. Rinse the fiddleheads and trim off any brown stems. In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the ferns until they are bright green and tender. Drain. Use three or five fiddleheads to garnish each portion of soup. | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT


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Central vermont

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Dining & Entertainment Guide

J. Morgan’s Steakhouse Serving steaks, seafood, and Sunday brunch since 1994. Our recent renovation opens a new chapter in this award-winning restaurant. Known for exceedingly generous portions, we feature over 20 aged in-house steaks, daily seafood, designer pasta dishes, and mountainous salads and desserts. Located on Montpelier’s historic State Street. $$ Vermont’s Cutting Edge Steakhouse 100 State Street, Montpelier, VT (802) 223-5222

Key to Symbols $ most entrées under $10 $$ most entrées $10 to $25 $$$ most entrées over $25

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entertainment and dining guide for central vermont

Beyond the Menu

The Farmhouse Tap & Grill Dedicated to showcasing local farms and food producers, our menu features award-winning burgers, comfort entrées, artisan cheeses, vegetarian options, and nightly innovations. The Tap Room delivers highly prized and rare beers. “Special Happenins” Wed. nights. $$ 160 Bank Street Burlington, VT (802) 859-0888

J Morgan’s Steakhouse

Discover fantastic dining and entertainment throughout Central Vermont!

Vermont’s cutting-edge steakhouse featuring over 20 steaks aged and hand cut in-house, 12 daily seafood dishes, and award-winning Sunday Brunch. Located on Montpelier’s historic State Street. $$ 100 State Street Montpelier, VT 802-223-5222

El Cortijo

Guild and Company

Red Hen Bakery and Café

Chef Phillip Clayton’s award-winning farm-to-table cuisine features dry-aged locally sourced beef, seafood, and vegetarian options, and an innovative cocktail program. Open daily. 4:30pm to close. Barroom open 4pm. $$$

Famous hearth-baked breads, plus an excellent selection of freshly baked pastries–croissants, scones, cookies, mapleglazed sticky buns, and more. Soups and sandwiches made in house, featuring local ingredients. Fine wines, beer, cheese, and specialty grocery items. $-$$

A vibrant atmosphere featuring tacos, soups, salads, and entrées prepared with local ingredients and expressed as traditional Mexican fare. Freshsqueezed margaritas and handcrafted cocktails. Late-night menu until 1am. Fridays & Saturdays. $-$$

961B US Rt. 2 Middlesex, VT (802) 223-5200

189 Bank Street Burlington, VT (802) 497-1668

1633 Williston Road South Burlington, VT (802) 497-1207





Central Vermont


March 16


March 17

CONCERT: DEBUSSY 1.5 Unitarian Church of Montpelier, 3:30pm Info: (802) 476-8188,

March 19 Exhibition: “Source”

IRISH MUSIC CONCERT WITH MATT CRANITCH & JACKIE DALY River Arts, Morrisville, 7pm Info: (802) 888-1261,

January 18–April 14

EXHIBITION: “SOURCE,” GUILD OF VERMONT FURNITURE MAKERS The Helen Day Art Center, Stowe Info: (802) 253-8358,

March 8–April 14

EXHIBITION: “INSTALLATION NO. 6 (TUBES)” BY JAN TICHY, The Helen Day Art Center, Stowe Info: (802) 253-8358,

March 9

WATERBURY WINTER FARMERS MARKET Thatcher Brook Primary School, 10am–2pm Info:

March 22–31

GREEN MOUNTAIN FILM FESTIVAL, MONTPELIER Meet filmmakers from around the world and experience the camaraderie of the Vermont arts community. Info: (802) 262-3423,

March 28

3-COURSE TRAPP LAGER DINNER Trapp Lager dinner featuring their Summer Lager and prepared by Executive Chef Kim Lambrechts. Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe Info: (802) 253-8511,

March 30

POND SKIMMING ANNUAL RITE OF SPRING Lincoln Peak, Sugarbush Resort, 11am Info:

March 23

HELEN DAY ARTS CENTER FUNDRAISER GALA 54 Stowe Mountain Lodge, 6pm Info: (802) 253-8358,

“Installation No. 6 (Tubes)” by Jan Tichy.


March 30

WINTER FARMERS MARKET Big Picture Theater & Café, Waitsfield, 10am–1pm Info:

March 31

INTUITIVE PAINTING WITH SUZANNE BELLEFEUILLE The Helen Day Art Center, Stowe, 10am–1pm Info: (802) 253-8358,







Central Vermont

IN March 31

MONTPELIER CHAMBER ORCHESTRA, SONGFEST St. Augustine’s Church, Montpelier, 7:30pm Info: (802) 595-0087,

April 1

MONTPELIER CHAMBER ORCHESTRA, SONGFEST Chandler Music Hall, Randolph, 4pm Info: (802) 595-0087,

Wednesdays, April 3–24

WORKSHOP: MOODS IN THE LANDSCAPE, TED CERALDI The Helen Day Art Center, Stowe, 1:30–3pm Info: (802) 253-8358,

April 5

MONTPELIER ART WALK Info: (802) 223-9604,

April 5 & 7

CABIN FEVER FOLLIES Valley Players, Waitsfield Info:

April 6

LIVE MUSIC WITH THE DANIELLE MIRIGLIA DUO, STOWE MOUNTAIN RESORT 2–4pm at the fire pit in the Spruce Plaza. Info: (802) 253-3000,

April 6

Biloxi Blues

April 6

COUNTERPOINT CONCERT Unitarian Church of Montpelier, 7:30pm Info: (802) 223-7861

April 13

LIVE MUSIC WITH CHAD HOLLISTER, STOWE MOUNTAIN RESORT 2–4pm at the fire pit in the Spruce Plaza. Info: (802) 253-3000,

Sample local and regional beers, with music, munchies, and prizes. 6–10pm in the Meeting House, Smugglers’ Notch Resort Info: (800) 521-0536,

April 6

TOM RUSH Chandler Center for the Arts, Randolph, 7:30pm Info: (802) 728-9878,

April 6

BASKETWEAVING, WITH LINDA LOMASNEY The Helen Day Art Center, Stowe, 9:30am–3:30pm Info: (802) 253-8358,

BILOXI BLUES, MONTANA REPERTORY THEATRE Barre Opera House, 8pm Info: (802) 476-8188,

April 13

WATERBURY LEAP ENERGY FAIR Crosset Brook Middle School Info: (802) 224-0944,









Central Vermont

IN April 13

WATERBURY WINTER FARMERS MARKET Thatcher Brook Primary School, 10am–2pm Info:

April 16

POETRY NIGHT Joslin Memorial Library, Waitsfield, 6:30pm Info:

April 19

MISSISSIPPI SOULMAN–JOHNNY RAWLS WITH THE DAVE KELLER BAND River Arts, Morrisville, 7pm Info: (802) 888-1261,

April 25

3-COURSE THEMED AUSTRIAN WINE DINNER Themed Austrian Wine Dinner featuring Höpler Winery, prepared by Executive Chef Kim Lambrechts. Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe Info: (802) 253-8511,

April 25-May 12

Tuesdays, April 30–May 28



A musical play of Vermont’s history in the Civil War. Lost Nation Theater, Montpelier Info: (802) 229-0492,

The Helen Day Art Center, Stowe, 9:30am–12pm Info: (802) 253-8358,

Throughout May

April 27

NOON MUSIC IN MAY Stowe Community Church, Wednesdays, Noon to 1pm Info: (802) 253-7792,

PAULA POUNDSTONE Chandler Center for the Arts, Randolph, 7:30pm Info: (802) 728-9878,

May 2–27


April 27


The Helen Day Art Center, Stowe Info: (802) 253-8358,

Montpelier Unitarian Church, 7:30pm More info:

May 4

April 27


WINTER FARMERS MARKET Big Picture Theater & Café, Waitsfield, 10am–1pm Info:

Barre Opera House, 8pm Info: (802) 476-8188,


ONLINE BUSINESS DIRECTORY AND BANNER ADS. Contact Robin Gales at or John Gales at, or call them at (802) 295-5295. Find out how you can connect with our readers. It’s easy, inexpensive, and another way to reach an affluent and educated audience.


Share the wonder of our beautiful area and the latest news all year long with a Best of Central Vermont gift subscription. Friends and family who have moved away from the area will be especially Central V ermont appreciative. Be sure to HERE C OMES sp r ing! order a subscription for yourself, too! best of





G 2013


1, NO. 2 $4.95

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Send a check for $19.95 for one year (4 issues) to Best of Central Vermont, P.O. Box 1460, Quechee, VT 05059. Or conveniently pay online using PayPal at


BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT | Spring Sprng 2013 2013

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| Winter 2012/2013




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Central Vermont

IN May 11

MAD TRIATHLON AT SUGARBUSH Lincoln Peak and the Mad River Valley, 8am Info: (802) 363-9863,

May 20

AN EVENING WITH AUTHOR FARIBORZ MOKHTARI Joslin Memorial Library, Waitsfield, 6:30pm Info:

May 23

3-COURSE TRAPP LAGER DINNER Trapp Lager dinner featuring their Summer Lager and prepared by Executive Chef Kim Lambrechts. Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe Info: (802) 253-8511,

May 17

NEXT GENERATION Chandler Center for the Arts, Randolph, 7:30pm Info: (802) 728-9878,

Mad Triathlon

May 18–19

FLORAL WATERCOLOR, WITH ANNELEIN BEUKENKAMP The Helen Day Art Center, Stowe, 10am–4pm Info: (802) 253-8358,

May 25 & 26

OPEN STUDIO WEEKEND Meet artists and view their work in their own studios. Info: | BEST OF CENTRAL VERMONT


c e n t r al v e r mo n t c h at

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B Y D av i d G oodma n

Why come to a mountain to see a performance? Because it’s there! People come to a mountain to ski because that’s where the snow and the hill are. That’s also why you would come to attend a performance. Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center is a beautiful space and a beautiful location. What’s the most unusual backstage ritual you’ve seen a performer do? I have seen more than one artist who relies on a canine companion as a tool for getting prepared. It seems that dogs give a sense of calm that’s necessary for walking out on stage. Some artists use dogs to center themselves. It’s not quite what I would have expected. What was your favorite performance of the last year? A Vermont Holiday was my favorite. It was a three-person production that included singer songwriter Patti Casey from Montpelier and Mark Nash and Kathryn Blume from Burlington. They shared the experience of Vermonters coming together. It was funny and touching. It talks about our shared values, what makes us human. Then it talks about what makes us Vermonters. And those things are both the same and different.

Lance Olson Lance Olson is executive director of the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center, a nonprofit performance venue and arts organization located at the base of Mt. Mansfield in Stowe, Vermont. The center includes a 420-seat theater that hosts top international performers as well as local artists. Olson began at Spruce Peak last summer after decades of arts management experience in Boston. How do you like living in Vermont? I grew up in Minneapolis, so I enjoy the cold and an occasional blizzard. Stowe is a special place because of its relationship to the outdoors. People ski in the winter and people bike, ride horses, and walk. I see all of that as cultural activity, and I see Stowe as a center of the cultural world. What do you find challenging about living in Vermont? I come from a place where many things are immediately available. Yesterday I tried to burn a CD. I didn’t have any blank disks and it would take me a while to get some. The beauty of not having a Staples or Home Depot on every corner is why Vermont is so special and spectacular. But the change in convenience is something I have to get used to. 80

best of central Vermont | Spring 2013

Are you a Vermonter now? I have been told that if my grandfather wasn’t from Vermont that I am not a Vermonter. But I think I share the values of most of the Vermonters who I know. Perhaps I could become an honorary Vermonter. What’s the funniest thing you’ve experienced running a performing arts center? Good question, but that’s the opposite of my focus. I try to facilitate a smooth performance. Usually funny things are symptoms of things that didn’t work well. If you want to perform here, you should… Keep working. There’s a joke about a guy who gets into a taxi and asks, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” And the cabbie says, “Practice, practice, practice.” What makes a great performance? A great performer has a special connection with the audience. And that connection comes with experience. Many people can play an instrument extremely well. Many musicians can make good records. But people go to a concert hall for the live, spontaneous, in-the-moment, joyous, funny occasion. And that comes from an artist who is so thoroughly prepared that she or he can abandon that preparation and make the audience members feel personally and individually part of the performance. Itzak Perlman is a genius in that way. Shawn Colvin is also very good at that. And Stowe musician Audrey Bernstein is like that. I’m excited to see more artists from our community who are doing that. It’s a really special skill.

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Best of Central Vermont - Spring 2013  

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