Vermont Country March-April 2024

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Spring Adventures in Southern Vermont March-April 2024 CustomerComplimentary$4.99 Copy An idyllic destination Explore natural wonders at Merck Forest & Farmland Center Let the good times “roll” New cannabis shop opens in Rockingham, celebrates end of another Prohibition Want to make your home more homey? A local decorator can do magic tricks with your space
Cannabis has not been analyzed or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA ). For use by individuals 21 years of age and older or registered qualif ying patient only. KEEP THIS PRODUCT AWAY FROM CHILDREN AND PET S DO NOT USE IF PREGNANT OR BRE ASTFEEDING. Possession or use of cannabis may carr y significant legal penalties in some jurisdictions and under federal law It may not be transpor ted outside of the state of Vermont The effects of edible cannabis may be delayed by two hours or more. Cannabis may be habit forming and can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment Persons 25 years and younger may be more likely to experience harm to the developing brain It is against the law to drive or operate machiner y when under the influence of this product . National Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 257 M a rlbo ro Rd Su ite 1 01 Brattlebo ro, VT 05301 offering a curated spectrum of products including cannabis, CBD, and grow supplies. hey bud, stop by! vermont budbarn @ 12pm-4pm / sunday 10pm-8pm / FRI-SAT 10am-6pm / mon-THU






2 Main S


4. L atchis Hotel

V T 05301

50 Main S treet , Brattleboro, V T 05301

802-25 4 -6300

5. Vermont Countr y Deli

4 36 Western Avenue, Brattleboro, V T 05301

802-257-925 4

6. Vermont Market Place

580 Canal S treet , Brattleboro, V T 05301 802-25 4 -5861

7. Whetstone S tation

36 Birge S treet , Brattleboro, V T 05301

8. Vermont Welcome Center

I-91 Nor th MM 5,

8. Silver Therapeutics 201 Nor thside Dr Bennington, VT 802-4 40-5170 9. The 421 Craft Bar and Kitchen 4 21 Main St , Bennington, VT 802-4 40-597 2 10. Jay s Ar t & Frame Galler y 115 South St Bennington, VT 802-4 4 7-2 34 2 11 Elm Street Market 251 Elm St , Bennington, VT 802-7 53-7 366 12 Bennington Bookshop 109 south St , Bennington, VT 0501 802-4 4 2-5059 13. Bennington Museum 7 5 Main St , Bennington, V T (802) 4 4 7-157 1 14 South Shire Inn 124 Elm Street , Bennington BENNINGTON, V T DROP LOCATIONS 1. Berkshire Roots 501 Dalton Avenue, Pitt sf ield, MA 01201 • 413-553-93 3 3 PIT TSFIELD, MA & TROY, NY DROP LOCATIONS 1. Equinox Golf Resor t & Spa 3567 Main S treet , Manchester, V T 0525 4 802-362- 4 700 2. Kimpton Taconic Hotel 3835 Main S treet , Manchester, V T 0525 4 802-362-014 7 3. Manchester Business Assoc 4 826 Main S treet , Manchester Center, V T 05255 617-869-3591 4 Nor thshire Bookstore 4 869 Main S treet , Manchester Center, V T 05255 802-362-2 200 5. Reluc tant
9W Road,
Manchester, V T 802-362-2568
Casablanca Motel 592 7 Main S t
Manchester Center, V
T 05255
Brattleboro Chamber of Commerce 180 Main S treet , Brattleboro, V T 05301 802-25 4
- 4565
. Hempicurean
Marlboro Road,
Unit 102 , West Brattleboro, V T 05301
4 367
Food Coop
4, Guilford, V
Holiday Inn E xpress 100 Chickering Drive, Brattleboro, V T 05301 802-257-2400 BRAT TLEBORO, V T DROP LOCATIONS Pick up a courtesy copy at one of our Distributer Partner locations 1 5 2 36 4 BENNINGTON, V T DROP LOCATIONS MANCHESTER, V T DROP LOCATIONS 1 PIT TSFIELD, MA & TROY, NY DROP LOCATIONS TURNERS FALL S, MA DROP LOCATIONS BRAT TLEBORO, V T DROP LOCATIONS NORTH BENNINGTON, V T DROP LOCATIONS PUTNE Y, V T DROP LOCATIONS 10. Pu tney General S tore 4 K imball Hill, Putney, V T 053 46 11 Pu tney Diner 128 Main S t Putney, V T 802-387-5 4 3 3 12 . Pu tney Food Co - op 8 Carol Brown Way, Putney, V T 2 4 5 6 7 8 12 13 3 9 10 1 2 3 6 10 11 4 9 7 1 2 3 4 8 5 1. The Knott y Pine 130 Nor thside Dr, Bennington, V T • 802-4 4 2-5 487 2 . Bennington Chamber 100 Veterans Memorial Drive, Bennington, V T 802-4 4 7-3 311 3. Better Bennington Corp. 215 South Street , Bennington, V T 05201 • 802-4 4 2-57 58 4. Madison’s 4 28 Main Street , Bennington, V T 05201 802-4 4 2-7 397 5. Bennington Welcome Center 100 V T-2 79 Bennington, V T 05201 6. Avocado Pit 201 South St , Bennington, V T 05201 7. Juniper L ane 4 45 Main St Bennington, V T 802-4 40-57 55 BENNINGTON, V T DROP LOCATIONS OTHER MA DROP LOCATIONS 1. 253 Farmacy 253 MIllers Falls Rd., Turners Falls, MA 413-863- 5765 1 NORTH BENNINGTON, V T DROP LOCATIONS 1. Park McCullough Historic Governors Mansion 1 Park St , Nor th Bennington, VT 802-4 4 2-5 4 41 2. Pangaea 3 Prospec t St Nor th Bennington • 802-4 4 2-4 466 3 Powers Market 9 Main St Nor th Bennington, VT 802-4 40-087 1 4. Prospec t Coffee House 1 Prospec t St , Nor th Bennington • 802-7 53-784 7 Contac t us at info@vermontcountr - $25 for 6 issues - Follow us @v tcomagazine on Facebook and Instagram 1 11 OTHER V T DROP LOCATIONS 1. Greater Falls Regional Chamber of Commerce 17 Depot Street Bellows Falls V T 802-463-4 280 2 The Dorset Inn 8 Church Street , Dorset , V T • 802-867-5500 3. The New fane Inn 4 Cour t Street New fane, V T 05345 802 365 4 4 2 7 4 Vermont Distillers 7 7 55 Route 9 East Marlboro V T 802-464-2003 5. The New fane Store 596 V T-30 New fane, V T • 802-365-7 7 7 5 6. Four Columns inn 21 West Street New fane, V T 802-365-7 7 13 7. Harmonyville Store 1412 V t-30 Townsend V T 802-365-9417 8. Riverbend Farm Market 625 V t-30 Townsend, V T 802-365-4600 9. HN Williams, Dorset 2 7 32 V T-30 Dorset , V T 802-867-5353 10. Willow Vermont 369 Dover Rd, South New fane, V T 05351 (802) 380-4939 11 Smitt y ’s Chester Market 526 Depot St Chester, V T 12 The Arlington Inn 3904 Vermont R te 7a, Arlington, V T 05250 (802) 3 7 5-6532 13. Stone House Antique Center 557 - V T-103 Chester, V T 14 West River Lodge 1086 V T Route 30 New fane, V T 05345 802-365-5001 15. Vermont Antique Mall Route 4 Quechee, V T 16. Farm Road Estate 7 Cross Town Road, Dover, V T 05356 802-464-8131 1 7. Londonderr y Village Market 5700 V T-100 Londonderr y V T 05148 802-824-314 4 18 Communit y Bank 97 E Main Street , Wilmington, V T 802-464-8688 OTHER V T DROP LOCATIONS 4 1 3 10 11 18 17 13 8 2 9 5 7 6 12 14 16 15
T 05301 9.

Open 7 days a week Monday-Saturday: 9-8 PM Sunday: 10-6 PM


Cannabis has not been analyzed or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For use by individuals 21 years of age and older or registered qualifying patient only KEEP THIS PRODUCT AWAY FROM CHILDREN AND PETS. DO NOT USE IF PREGNANT OR BREASTFEEDING. Possession or use of cannabis may carry significant legal penalties in some jurisdictions and under federal law It may not be transported outside of the state of Vermont. The effects of edible cannabis may be delayed by two hours or more. Cannabis may be habit forming and can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment. Persons 25 years and younger may be more likely to experience harm to the developing brain.

It is against the law to drive or operate machinery when under the influence of this product. National Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222

Bennington’s First Dispensary 445 Main Street Bennington, VT 05201


The elusive origins of sugaring

A grand union of romance and luxury at Niramit

Connection and community at Merck Forest & Farmland Center



Health & Wellness

Acupuncturist hits sweet spot with new clinic


Time to get back on two wheels


Who was Molly Stark?: A Revolutionary love story

Maple syrup is more than a sweet treat

Supreme Fitness a place for all to get in shape

Can we 'spring clean' our bodies?

Welcoming the 'Rolling Twenties'

Dorset Players nearing century mark


Spinning yarns at Wing and a Prayer Farm

Create a cheerier home this spring

By Gordon Dossett

Meet the DJs at WEQX

By Gordon Dossett

Film column:

When the book isn't better

By Dan Tebo

Vermont Country Homes

10 14 15
18 20 22 26 30 42 44 48 49 | 3

On the cover


meet our springtime lambs at MFFC. Springtime is always wonderful at MFFC.

President and Publisher

Jordan Brechenser


Gena Mangiaratti

Windham County Sales Manager Lylah Wright

Account Executives

Richard Lolatte

Richard Battista

Karli Knapp

Bennington County Sales Manager

Susan Plaisance splaisance

Account Executives

Ahmad Yassir ayassir

Gabriel Schatz gschatz

Vermont Country magazine is a publication of

Photo provided by Hadley Stock

Celebrating Vermont Staying In Vermont

A s a Ver mont-ba sed mutu al bank , we can’t b e b ought, we work for our c u stomers, and we foc u s on communit y.

Bennington 802-4 4 2-1640

Arlington 802-375-2319

Manchester 802-362-4760

Rutland 802-774-5085

2024 Chamber Events

Vermont Craf t Beer & Chili Stroll

April 5, 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm, in Historic Downtown Wilmington, V T

Stroll the streets of Historic Downtown Wilmington while enjoying live music, chilis made by some of the best chefs in Southern Vermont and Vermont Craf t Beer Early bird pricing available. Tickets $12.00 – $35.00.

Annual Chamber Golf Tournament

June 17, at Mount Snow Golf Course, 95 Countr y Club Drive, West Dover, V T

Held at the picturesque Mount Snow Golf Course, the Annual Chamber Golf Tournament brings together community members, businesses owners and visitors for a great day of golf, games and delicious food.

Independence Day Celebrat ion & Fireworks Display

July 5, 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm, at Baker Field, 1 School Street, Wilmington, V T

Celebrate Independence Day and enjoy a spectacular fireworks display with family and friends in beautiful Wilmington, V T Food vendors, cotton candy, music and bouncy house fun begins at 6 p.m.

Vermont Blueberr y Fest ival

July 26 - August 4

We love our blueberries, so we give them 10 days of celebration! A parade and street fair kicks off the Fest, followed by blueberr y themed events and of course picking all week Full schedule coming soon at vermontblueberr y

Vermont Wine & Har vest Fest ival

September 20 - 21, at Mount Snow Resor t, 39 Mount Snow Rd., West Dover, V T Set in the backdrop of our world-renowned Vermont fall foliage, attendees of the 15th Annual Vermont Wine & Harvest Festival will discover, savor & enjoy Vermont vintners, small specialty food producers, chefs, painters, publishers, cheese makers, potters, jewelers, photographers, & farmers.

Plan your visit! Bennington’s Online Visitor Guide
Snow Bennington Museum Old First Church Snowy Sunsets
Fall Foliage
Craft Breweries
Bennington Monument
Covered Bridges Walkable Downtown
Unique Lodging
T he B an k o f B en n i n g to n c o m TM Yo u r M o n e y S t ay s H e r e , Wo r k s H e r e , a n d t h a t M a ke s a D i ff e r e n c e TM
Suppor t local. Sw itch

A grand union of romance and luxury


In the heart of Southern Vermont, The South Shire and Niramit Thai extend a warm invitation to couples seeking a wedding experience that combines timeless romance and unparalleled luxury. With a seasoned team boasting over 50 years of collective experience in the realm of luxury hospitality, this dynamic duo is committed to ensuring that your special day unfolds with both sophistication and flawless execution.

While Niramit Thai takes pride in its specialization in Royal Thai cuisine, the culinary maestros are more than willing to weave the culinary tapestry of your dreams. The capable kitchen team stands ready to customize menus, catering to the whims and desires of the newly betrothed. Whether it's a romantic Victorian-themed menu, a showcase of Vermont's bountiful produce, or a recreation of a dish with sentimental value, Niramit Thai has the expertise to bring your culinary dreams to life.

Beyond the customary wedding options, The South Shire is an ideal location, conveniently within walking distance to the charming Bennington Downtown for various pre-nuptial celebrations. Whether it's a bachelor or bachelorette party, a Jack and Jill gathering, or any other pre-wedding festivity you can envision, the property caters to every celebration leading up to the big day.

The South Shire offers an intimate and warm setting for close friends and family to stay during the wedding weekend. The charming ambiance is a perfect staging area for the bridal party to prepare for the grand event. With 10-foot ceilings, a mahogany-paneled library adorned with an intricately carved fireplace, leaded glass pocket doors, and raised plaster moldings in the dining room, the historic home stands as a testament to the Victorian era's architectural grandeur in Southern Vermont.

Drawing inspiration from the visionary King Chulalongkorn of Siam (Rama V), who reigned during the Victorian era, Niramit Thai exudes sophistication while maintaining a comforting familiarity. The restaurant presents an elevated rendition of classic Thai cuisine, paying homage to its rich heritage. Authenticity is paramount, shining through in every flavor profile, and the menu showcases the finest ingredients with a commitment to seasonality and local sourcing.

For couples seeking an intimate elopement, South Shire treats all of its guests like royalty, with nine rooms providing space for 25 guests, offering an atmosphere that is both enchanting and private. The property accommodates up to 50 people for larger gatherings, making it the perfect venue for a dreamy, romantic celebration. Inquire about the wedding packages available, tailored to each couple's preferences.

The South Shire embraces the concept of a grand residence on a small, intimate scale. It aspires to deliver the same breadth of services and efficacy expected in large luxury hotels, all within a more humane, personalized setting. This dedication to a guest experience built on the long-lost style of service ensures that every

checks out with enduring memories and the desire to return.

The wedding offerings of The South Shire and Niramit Thai stand as a harmonious blend of timeless romance, culinary excellence, and the intimate charm of a bygone era. With a commitment to crafting personalized experiences and creating lasting memories, this dynamic

visitor duo invites couples to embark on a journey of love and celebration in the heart of Southern Vermont. Photo provided by Lorianna Weathers Exterior of the preserved Victorian South Shire a little hotel, home to Niramit, at 124 Elm St., Bennington. Photo provided by Lorianna Weathers South Shire Lobby.
Photo provided by Zoey Polito Niramit excels at delivering authentic flavors with a unique presentation.
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The elusive of Legend says have to

Asweet tradition that helps break up the winter months, sugarers go out into the woods to tap trees, drawing sap to make the flavorful syrup that people love to have at breakfast.

A maple research guide by the University of Vermont and The Agriculture Network Information Collaborative states there are written accounts of maple sugaring in North America dating back to 1557. The exact origins of sugaring are unknown. The research includes early myths about maple that are widespread through the Eastern Woodland Indians, including the Abenaki, Iroquois, and Micmac (Mi’kmaq).

According to legend, the Creator had at first made life too easy for his people by filling the maple trees with a thick syrup that flowed year-round. One day, Glooskap, a mischievous young man, found a village of his people strangely silent — the cooking

Kristopher Radder — Vermont Country Bob Litchfield, of Newfane, boils sap during the sugaring process in 2021. Kristopher Radder — Vermont Country Members of Viking Farms, in Guilford, boil sap near the end of the sugaring season in 2022. Caroline Bonnivier — Vermont Country file photo Dave Mance works on his property in Shaftsbury.
Kristopher Radder — Vermont Country David Matt, of Marlboro, runs the syrup through a filter system in 2023.

origins sugaring we didn't always boil down


fires were dead; weeds had overtaken the gardens.

Glooskap discovered the villagers lying in the woods, eyes closed, letting the syrup from the maple trees drip into their mouths. Glooskap brought fresh water from the lake and using his special power, filled the trees with water until the syrup ran from them thin and fast.

He then ordered his people up, telling them that the trees were no longer filled with the maple syrup, but only a watery sap. He told them they would have to hunt and fish and tend their gardens for sustenance. He promised that the sap would run again, but only during the winter when game is scarce, the lake is frozen, and crops do not grow.

It is not known if the Native Americans boiled down the sap to maple sugar, or if these techniques were introduced by the French explorers and missionaries. But by the 1700s, Native Americans and European settlers alike were using iron and copper kettles to make syrup and sugar.~

Kristopher Radder — Vermont Country Mark Hamilton, the owner of Heritage Maple Farm in Brattleboro, checks the density of the sap that he's boiling while sugaring in 2023. Kristopher Radder — Vermont Country Joel Thurber keeps an eye on the sugaring process at Viking Farm in Guilford in 2023. | 9
Kristopher Radder — Vermont Country Jerry Smith, co-owner of Deer Ridge Farm, in Guilford, dips into some of the sap to check its density while sugaring in 2022.

A vision of connection and community Merck Forest & Farmland Center a jewel in the Taconics and Greens

Vermont Country correspondent

RUPERT — Founded by pharmaceutical executive George Merck and his wife Serena, Merck Forest was envisioned as a place where families and friends could bond over the wonders of nature. Today, that vision lives on as a nonprofit, donation-driven organization committed to connecting people through place, shared learning and community.

Embrace Nature's Classroom: Discover Merck Forest & Farmland Center

In a world filled with screens and concrete jungles, there's an oasis waiting to be explored: Merck Forest & Farmland Center. Nestled in the heart of Rupert, this 3,500-acre haven has invited adventurers, learners and nature enthusiasts since 1950.

A Sanctuary for Outdoor Enthusiasts

At Merck Forest, time spent outside isn't just valued; it's cherished. Whether you're strolling along scenic trails, cozying up in rustic cabins, or basking in the beauty of open vistas, every moment is an opportunity to reconnect with the land and rejuvenate your spirit.

Preserving Nature's Legacy

Merck Forest's team of dedicated land managers ensures the preservation and sustainability of this cherished landscape. From managing a 3,500-acre forest to overseeing a 62-acre working farm and a 3,000-tap certified organic sugarbush, their efforts ensure a thriving ecosystem for generations to come.

Join the Journey

With over 20,000 visitors connecting with this treasured landscape every year, Merck Forest & Farmland Center inspires curios-

Photo provided by MFFC
Sheep rotationally graze in the pastures of MFFC’s regeneratively managed demonstration farm.

ity, love and responsibility for natural and working lands. Discover the magic of Merck Forest and embark on a journey of exploration, education and community-building unlike any other.

Discover, Learn and Play!

Merck Forest offers myriad activities and programs to suit every interest:

Tours and Guided Hikes: Explore hidden gems in the forest and on the farm, guided by knowledgeable staff.

Workshops and Trainings: Develop outdoor stewardship and leadership skills through hands-on, certified skill-building activities.

Signature Events: From maple sugaring to lambing, ecology agriculture and agroforestry, these family-friendly festivals showcase the best of each season.

Day Camps and Kits & Cubs: Engage in nature-based exploration, crafts and activities for children of all ages.

Institutional Programs: Tailored experiential programs and service-learning opportunities for learners of all levels.

For March, April and May, mud season and early spring have a lot to offer at Merck Forest. There are two first annual signature events: family-friendly open houses that offer food, crafts, hands-on activities and lots of fun.

Maple Open House on Saturday, March 23: Boiling and tapping demonstrations, stories and maple traditions, maple candy making, farm animals and food available. Meet the Lambs on Saturday, May 18: Meet our baby lambs, chicks, piglets and goats, touch a tractor, wool and fiber crafts, activities and food available.

Other things to do:

On the farm: Check out the baby animals. We will have baby chicks, lambs, piglets, goats and turkeys on the property. Watch the farm come to life. Maple sugaring is in full swing.

In the woods: Book and enjoy warm cabins with dry firewood available to rent. Find ephemerals as they sprout up in the forest and listen for birds and owls.

In the Visitor Center and Friends of the Forest Gift Shop: Merck Forest & Farmland Center’s friendly staff will orient you for a great visit. Purchase organic, Audubon-certified, bird-friendly maple syrup, gorgeous sheep skins, and Merck Forest-raised lamb, pork, chicken and turkey. Pick your own blueberries in late summer. Hiking and camping essentials and maps to help you chart your course.

With 35 miles of hiking trails and incredible vistas at every turn, this community-supported environmental nonprofit organization is open daily, 365 days a year, from dawn until dusk.

Other events - March to May

For kids, from pre-K to graduate students, Merck Forest is an outdoor learning campus for all ages. Dive into ecology and sustainable land management education, participate in service learning opportunities, and witness climate-smart farm and forest management demonstrations. Workshops, trainings and public events offer firsthand experiences that ignite curiosity and foster a deeper appreciation for our natural world.

Kits and cubs - toddler/preschool and parent/caregiver twice weekly meetup

Spring Break Camp - for grades 3 to 6, April 15 to 19

For families and all ages, with our In the Forest series, we offer Full Moon Hikes, Who’s in our Woods and Sunrise Hikes, where you can experience the serenity of the full moon, explore woodland flora and fauna and see the break-of-day crest over the Taconic.

Full Moon Hike: March 25

Sunrise Hike: March 1, 15 and 29

Solar Eclipse Viewing Party: April 8

Boundless recreation opportunities include:

Walking; Birding; Hiking; Camping; Fishing; Hunting; Riding.

Plan your visit

Just minutes from the Dorset, VT and Salem, N.Y., Merck Forest & Farmland Center is easily accessible year-round. Visit the Visitor Center daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or explore the Friends of the Forest Gift Shop, which is open Thursday to Sunday, also 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For program information and registration details, visit or call 802-394-7836.

Embrace nature's classroom. Experience Merck Forest & Farmland Center today!

Photo provided by Elena Santos Kits and Cubs is MFFC’s popular toddler/pre-school weekly meet up. Photo provided by Hadley Stock Baby Lambs enjoy spring sunshine on MFFC's 62 acre farm.
Sponsored Content | 11
Photo provided by Hadley Stock Visit MFFC’s Saphouse in March and April when sugaring season is in full swing.
2024 GOLF MEMBERSHIPS AVAILABLE NOW STARTING AT $1,400 For more information visit or email Head Golf Professional, Joan McDonald, LPGA at 18 HOLES OF GOLF WITH A VIEW. MEMBERSHIP HAS IT'S BENEFITS. ABBIATI MONUMENTS Remembering Our Loved Ones 802-254-4855 39 South Main Street •Brattleboro, VT • Stop in to see our extensive monument display • Highest Quality Monuments • Custom Engraving • Bronze Plaques • Granite Posts • Benches • Steps • Delivery and Installation available MADISON BREWING CO. BREW PUB & RESTAURANT LUNCH & DINNER 13 BEERS ON TAP • BEER TO GO! 802-44B-REWS Mon-Sat 11:30-9:00PM Sun 11:30–4:30PM @MadisonBrewingCo Follow us on facebook 428 MAIN ST. BENNINGTON, VERMONT VERMONT
Art i s a n C ui si ne

Health & Wellness

Photo provided by Jared Rice/Unsplash

Acupuncturist hits sweet spot with new clinic

BRATTLEBORO — Confluence Acupuncture is the next logical step for owner Stefan Grace, who has been a licensed acupuncturist for more than a decade and has practiced Chinese medicine for more than 15 years.

"I've worked in many different clinics," he said, "so this is my first solo venture running my own clinic."

Grace opened Confluence Acupuncture on Technology Road Drive in Brattleboro about a year ago. So far, he said, it's going well.

Previously, Grace rented a room at a naturopathic clinic on Western Avenue in Brattleboro for about five years. He said the move allowed him to expand his business.

Looking around, Grace noticed a number of acupuncturists operating in Brattleboro. But nobody was running what he considers a public-facing clinic with signs, advertising and multiple treatment rooms.

"I felt like there was a place for it," he said. "I think that there have been those kinds of clinics in Brattleboro before but not in

the six years that I had been living here."

Grace estimates 95 percent of the people he sees are experiencing some kind of pain — sometimes acute, sometimes chronic. That pain involves backs, necks, shoulders, knees and feet. Sometimes, it's related to arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Acupuncture also is used to treat gastrointestinal, gynaecological and fertility issues, post-traumatic stress disorder, musculoskeletal injuries and internal disorders.

With an aging population, Grace stressed the importance of people staying as mobile as possible as late into their lives as they can.

"This has become a big, big part of my clientele," he said.

Through martial arts, Grace became involved in learning about Chinese medicine, herbal medicine and manual therapies. After getting hit by a car and breaking his hand, he could no longer work in carpentry for any extended period of time.

As a result, Grace started to receive a lot of acupuncture.

"I was so impressed with how effective it was in treating really acute injuries like that," he said.

Kristopher Radder — Vermont Country
Sponsored Content Health & Wellness
Stefan Grace, a licensed acupuncturist and owner of Confluence Acupuncture in Brattleboro, shows some of the herbs in his office.

With plenty of time on his hands, Grace decided he should give acupuncture school a try. He was living in Oregon at the time and ended up enjoying the work.

A little more than six years ago, Grace moved back to Vermont to be closer to family. He found space with the clinic in Brattleboro.

In his own venture, Grace has been able to grow his clientele. He said he's putting in a lot more resources into advertising and regularly posting on social media.

"It's definitely paying off," he said. "I definitely have seen a pretty significant uptick in the number of new people coming through the door, especially in the fall. I was here spring and summer, and things were going pretty well. And then in the fall, things really took off for me so I'm hoping to continue that trend."

Confluence Acupuncture has four rooms with equipment to accommodate different kinds of pain. The clinic is handicap accessible and Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, with wide hallways and doors to make navigation easier for people with wheelchairs and walkers.

One of Grace's priorities for picking out a property had been physical accessibility. He also wanted to make the environment familiar to people, so the clinic has a similar style to a medical provider's office.

"I think for some people, it's a stretch to be coming to get acupuncture," he said. "They've never tried it before. They don't know what it is."

Grace said he's noticing an increasing number of doctors recommending acupuncture. Some patients have been going to the emergency room and taking painkillers but the pain subsists, while others have a chronic problem that no other medical care has successfully treated.

Needles used for acupuncture are "very tiny," Grace said. He

described the feeling of the prick as "a very minor insect sting when it first goes in, then after that, almost nothing."

"Sometimes people feel like a little bit achy around the site of the insertion site or a traveling sensation," he said. "But for the most part, you don't feel much."

An initial appointment is an evaluation lasting 15 minutes followed by treatment for one hour. Grace develops a plan, which usually includes about 10 treatments lasting an hour each and ideally occurring weekly.

"For the most part, the norm is that there's a cumulative effect to it and it kind of stacks up week after week after week," he said.

Treatments are $110 each and some insurance policies cover them.

Grace called Chinese medicine "the broader kind of umbrella of all of these different therapeutics."

"Acupuncture is the one that's become the most well-known in this country," he said.

Grace said he might suggest exercises or a stretching regimen in a way that might be reminiscent of physical therapy. Manual therapy is somewhere in between physical therapy and massage therapy, and could include the use of cups.

In the clinic, many herbs are in jars on shelving. They can be used in "a variety of fashions," Grace said.

More than 100 raw herbs are part of the collection. Grace said they're the actual roots and barks of the herbs, which are prepared like tea in formulas he develops.

More than 100 granulated herbs also are in the collection. Grace said they “have already been cooked like a tea and then dried on to a powder substrate, which is mixed with water for drinking.”

Grace said patients have to be consistent with taking the herbs in order to see results. To make it easier, he offers for a staff member to make the formula and prepare it.

Six packs of jars holding herbal formulas can be picked up at the clinic then dropped off for refills. Patients are advised to drink one jar a day.

Grace has also started to teach gentle therapeutic exercises known as Qigong in his office at 9 a.m. Tuesdays.

16 | VERMONT COUNTRY MAGAZINE | MARCH-APRIL 2024 Sponsored Content Health
Kristopher Radder — Vermont Country Stefan Grace, a licensed acupuncturist and owner of Confluence Acupuncture in Brattleboro, holds an acupuncture's needle to show how thin it is.
& Wellness
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What's sweet — and good for you, too?

Vermont maple syrup, of course

When it comes to maple syrup, most folks don't need a reason to pour on their yogurt, in their hot morning cereal or over their pancakes and French toast.

Connoisseurs of the sweet boiled sap of the maple tree may argue about the different grades and their different flavors, but its rich, caramel-like taste often has notes of vanilla and butterscotch. Others detect a toffee flavor, or the essence of fruits or herbs, but everyone knows the sweet liquid is heaven on a spoon.

But did you know that maple syrup is also good for you? Well, as long as you don't chug it like a Vermont State Trooper in the movie "Super Troopers."

"It's a good source of manganese and some of the other vitamins and minerals that you don't get in processed sweeteners," said Allison Hope, executive director of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers' Association.

Studies have revealed maple syrup contains numerous phenolic compounds, which studies have shown are powerful antioxidants that "capture" free radicals that damage body tissue and have been linked to cancer. Other sources of phenolic compounds include blue-

Aaron Lipsky — Vermont Country file photo People enjoy Sugar on Snow as part of the Winter Carnival in Brattleboro in 2023.

berries, tea, red wine and flaxseed.

Maple syrup also contains an abundance of life-sustaining minerals, including calcium, potassium and magnesium.

A study published in the journal Nutrition Research concluded maple syrup doesn’t cause sharp spikes in blood sugar levels, a benefit for diabetics or those trying to control their blood sugar levels.

Another study, published in the journal Metabolism, concluded maple syrup may boost immunity by increasing the production of white blood cells.

"[T]he potential of maple syrup ... as a source of nutrients and bioactive compounds is immense and deserves to be highlighted."


Library of Medicine

"Current scientific evidence indicates that phenolic compounds play a key role in the body’s defense, protecting it from damage caused by reactive oxygen species known to be involved in the genesis of various pathologies, cardiovascular, oncological, autoimmune, degenerative, etc.," states a study published in 2022 by the National Library of Medicine. "[T]he potential of maple syrup ... as a source of nutrients and bioactive compounds is immense and deserves to be highlighted."

Other components of maple syrup include minerals and trace elements, amino acids, other carbohydrates, organic acids, phenolic compounds, sulfur compounds and pyrazines.

While Hope wouldn't go as far as saying that Vermont maple syrup is better for you than other maple syrups, she did not hesitate to point out that Vermont maple syrup, by state requirements, has a higher minimum density.

"Like anything else that comes from the earth, there's some sort of terroir that goes along with it in terms of the soil and the actual trees," said Hope. "But if you're following Vermont student standards, you're making just a titch thicker syrup." It's not only nutrient-dense, said Hope, but is also healthy for the environment and the state's economy.

"Maple sugaring supports forested landscape and Vermont farmers," she said. "And now, more than ever, a healthy, forested landscape is incredibly important to the changes in climate that we're seeing."~

Chris Mays — Vermont Country Maple syrup is made at Dutton Farm Stand in Manchester. Kristopher Radder — Vermont Country Charlie Robb Jr., of Robb Family Farm, in Brattleboro, talks about the sugaring process to a troop of Girl Scouts during the Vermont Maple Open House Weekend in March 2022. Charles Erickson — Vermont Country file photo The maple syrup at Hill Top Farm in Pownal is produced locally. Health & Wellness

Supreme Fitness a place for all to get in shape

BRATTLEBORO — Voted number-one gym in Brattleboro for over 10 years, Supreme Fitness is a sprawling 15,000 square-foot facility that serves not only Windham County, but also Cheshire and Franklin counties. Whether you are a strongman competitor, serious weightlifter or a beginner, there is something for everyone.

Supreme Fitness has the largest selection of fitness classes in the area.

Owner Carla Grant holds the world record in APA-WPA Powerlifting for bench press, dead lift and squat. A certified personal trainer since 1999, Carla brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to members in group classes and one-on-one sessions.

Supreme Fitness features an extensive selection of cardio machines, free weights, lifting machines and welcomes all types of fitness training styles, from beginners looking for a functional fitness center, to powerlifters and Olympic lifters.

If group classes are your thing, Supreme Fitness has the largest selection of fitness classes in the area. Some classes regularly offered include senior strong, Pilates, spinning, TRX, yoga and self-defense. Classes range

from beginner to more advanced levels.

For someone not sure where to start or wanting extra instruction, there is a staff of personal trainers offering different experience, background and styles.

Have kids but still want to enjoy a workout? Supreme Fitness has got you covered! Kids can hang out in the playroom equipped with toys and books.

Other amenities available include a tanning bed, a massage therapist and saunas in both the men’s and women’s locker rooms.

So why do people choose Supreme Fitness over another gym? Well, all the reasons above are certainly enough, but what really sets Supreme Fitness apart from other facilities is the sense of community and support among the members.

Stop by Supreme Fitness at 1589 Putney Road in Brattleboro and enjoy a complimentary day pass, tour the gym and meet our knowledgeable staff.

For more information, call 802-257-4944 or go online to

Photos by Kristopher Radder — Vermont Country Tina Dalton bench presses during training at Supreme Fitness in May 2023.
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Graeme McGrath does squats during training at Supreme Fitness in May 2023.

Detox dilemmas Can we 'spring clean' our bodies in a healthy way?

People often say that image is everything. Perhaps this is what perpetuates the seemingly endless drive to reinvent ourselves. We change our hairstyle, buy new clothes, join a gym and make proclamations to lose weight.

Amongst our many attempts at fad diets (not to mention the multibillions of dollars spent on the weight loss industry), are our endeavors to detoxify our bodies. Cleanses are all the rage — detoxing from the inside out. We drink juice, starve ourselves, restrict, all in the name of our liver and kidneys.

Just how effective are these cleanses? Do they work, or are we throwing more and more money down the diet-industry drain?

To juice or not to juice

Medications aren’t the only weight loss “solutions” with side effects. Juice cleanses have been all the rage for decades, not the oldest of which is the Master Cleanse, or the lemonade diet, which has been around since 1941.

Juice bars abound across the nation. Some of their programs claim to do everything from helping us lose weight and boost our energy, to the extreme of being medicinal and sponsoring major health benefits. It’s not that tough for juice cleanses to deliver on their weight loss promise. As with all fad diets, once we

give up our beloved processed foods, sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy and anything else that may bring us pleasure (or nourishment), we will lose weight! Until we meet again, that is … Although by 2026, the global market for detox products is projected to surpass $75 billion, all those cleanses, juice, herbs, teas and pills may not be all they’re cracked up to be. While shortterm cleanses show little detriment to the gut or our overall health, we may not be getting the benefits we hope to. Those of us looking to detox from chemicals are likely to be disappointed. Overall, we can’t pinpoint specific chemicals we may have ingested with certain foods or juice combinations. The only method is to avoid the chemicals we can, eat well, sleep well, drink enough water and rely on our God-given detox system.

Our bodies have natural detox systems — we excrete toxins through our sweat, breath and bathroom excretions. Our skin, lungs, liver, digestive tract and kidneys all act as a filtration system as well. While many experts concur that there most likely aren’t any long-term negative effects sponsored by doing a juice cleanse for a few days, others worry they lead to disordered eating. Using cleanses as a quick fix can mean that we eat less consciously when we’re not on our detox.

Natural detoxing can be done by focusing on whole foods, steering clear of sugar and booze, getting enough sleep, exercising and drinking enough water. Looking for a quick fix? Think again. Many of us attribute the way we feel when we’re focusing on a

Katharine A. Jameson — Vermont Country correspondent Try this naturally detoxifying veggie soup with ingredients you can grow in your garden or buy at your local farmers market.
Health & Wellness

detox to just that: the detoxification process; but these symptoms are often simply manifestations of having given up the things we depend on in our diet like caffeine, sugar and alcohol. It’s not rocket science that a juice diet may sponsor more frequent trips to the bathroom, something we might attribute to our cleanse. Dizziness can be a simple effect of low blood sugar, which is easy to experience if we’re not eating enough during our cleanse.

From one extreme to another

When we juice fruit or even vegetables, the pulp, or "garbage" that the juicer spits out, is the fiber from our produce. Fiber is the stuff that makes the sugar in fruits and veggies break down less quickly. It’s one of the reasons we’re told to eat vegetables. This is stuff we should be ingesting with the fruit or veggie, not treating it as garbage. Without fiber, sugar levels in the juice are higher, making juice consumption on the regular a questionable idea.

Rarely, if ever, might you sit down to all of the whole fruits or vegetables that are used to make a single serving of juice. Whether it’s in smoothie form or juiced, these drinks host a much larger serving of fruits and vegetables than we would be able to eat in their whole form.

Aside from lacking fiber and protein, juice contains little vitamin B12 and could lead to loss of bone and muscle mass over time. Muscle loss can slow our metabolism, which can lead to weight gain once we’ve started eating regularly again. So this year, skip the juice cleanse and enjoy whole fruits and veggies as a part of your meals and snacks. Focus on fewer ultra-processed foods, more sleep, water and exercise to really get the detox going.

Detox naturally

It’s our body’s job to get the bad stuff out. We need not provide catalysts such as diuretics, laxatives or teas for our bodies to embark on this duty. Certain foods aid natural detoxification. We might be better off spending our "juice cleanse" money on simple foods that can help detoxifying organs like the liver, kidneys, lung, GI tract

and skin do their job.

Water and fiber are two key players in any detox or fad diet, but for good reason. Water helps keep our system moving things through, which is pivotal in eliminating everyday toxins and other harmful substances. Fiber is a key player in the elimination process as well. Not only does it feed the good bugs in our gut, but it can help less healthy food move through our system more quickly. Fiber has been likened to using a scrub brush on your intestines. Sounds painful, but it can actually be therapeutic and may reduce risk of colon cancer in the long run.

Fermented foods

Our gut refers to our GI tract and everything from our mouth down south. Fermented foods rich in probiotics like kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt and miso feed our good gut bugs, helping us to keep our gut balanced. Prebiotic filled foods aid our gut health as well. They provide essential nourishment for our good "gut bugs" and aid in natural detoxification.

Some of the more bitter or pungent foods have been shown to aid in detoxing our bodies. Foods like onion, garlic, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, radish, watercress and horseradish naturally help to clean things out. Bitter lettuces (or chicories) like endive, frisée and radicchio are also detoxifying. Dress your salad with apple cider vinaigrette for an added detoxing component.

Get sleepy

Sleep is pivotal for effective detoxing as well. Our bodies (and brains) literally clean themselves as we sleep. Without an adequate amount of sleep, these toxins can build up.

Taking care to stick with healthy foods in their whole form and steering clear of ultra-processed food and drink is pivotal when it comes to detoxing and overall health. Adding lemon to water helps us to absorb it to a greater extent, so squeeze some lemon instead of opening an additive-filled electrolyte packet. Get some zzzs and try this naturally detoxifying veggie soup.~

Naturally detoxifying veggie soup


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, roughly chopped

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped

3 stalks celery, roughly cut

4 whole garlic cloves, peeled

1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped

3 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons salt

Pepper, to taste

1 quart vegetable stock

2 sprigs parsley, with stem

1 teaspoon turmeric (more if desired)

2 to 3 stalks kale, destemmed

½ lemon, juiced Method

In a large pot, heat olive oil.

Tie thyme and bay leaves into a bundle, using cooking twine.

Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic, parsnip, thyme and bay leaves.

Cook until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add tomato paste, sauté, adding salt and pepper.

Stir in stock, bringing to a boil.

Add parsley, turmeric and kale.

Cook for 30 to 45 minutes.

Turn off heat, allow to cool.

With an immersion blender, puree mixture to desired texture.

Stir in lemon juice.

Heat again and serve, topping with chopped parsley.

Health & Wellness

Time to get back on two wheels

Here's how to do it safely


Tyson, Cyclosaurus, Frankenbike or Big Pink — whatever you call your two-wheeled life partner, you must take care of it.

If you’re like most, your bike has been sitting dormant for the winter months while you’ve focused on other activities. If you’re like me, the riding never stopped, but no matter how you slice it, maintenance is life. It doesn’t matter if you have the Breezer 1 (first mountain bike ever made) or the latest MAMIL (middle-aged men in Lycra)-endorsed $10,000 road bike. Without some mechanical love and lube, it will fail you, and when it fails, it costs more, so let’s not get to that point.

Preparing your bike for the upcoming riding season is essential to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Start by giving your bike a thorough inspection. Check for any signs of wear and tear on components such as tires, brake

pads, and cables. Replace any damaged or worn-out parts to guarantee optimal performance. Lubricate the chain and other moving parts to reduce friction. Assess the air pressure in your tires and inflate them to the recommended levels.

Proper tire pressure not only improves ride quality but also reduces the risk of flats. As for brakes: These are pretty important, so make sure they are functioning correctly; test them in a controlled environment. Clean and degrease the drivetrain to remove winter grime, promoting smoother gear changes. Verify that the headset is tight and in good condition.

If your bike has been sitting basically untouched since last summer, these tips will likely not be as important, but always worth checking. Check saddle height, handlebar position, and other personalized settings; this will ensure your smooth re-entry into the two-wheeled realm of freedom. By investing time in these preparations, cyclists can

Joseph Mardeusz, a technician at Burrows Sports on Main Street in Brattleboro, goes over an e-bike while it's in the repair shop.
Daq Woods, at Burrows Sports on Main Street in Brattleboro.

confidently embrace the arrival of spring, knowing their bikes are ready to tackle the open roads and trails with renewed vigor.


But what about: The Sparkinator, Rolling Thunder, Sparktacus? Yes, the electric version of their acoustic ancestor: the e-bike. All the aforementioned routine maintenance applies to the e-bike, but now we have to factor in diagnostics, and address both hardware and software components to enhance efficiency, extend battery life and improve the overall riding experience. This one might be out of the shed mechanic's reach and would require a certified technician. Or as I like to say, “Take it to Joe (or Daq).” If you live close to Brattleboro, Joe specializes in e-bike and electric conversions at Burrows Sports. He’s your guy.

Bottom line: Your bike is a piece of machinery, and it requires basic maintenance and upkeep. So, if any of this is above your skill set, take it to your local bike shop and have them go over it and do the normal safety check and tune-up. It’s the best

money you can spend to ensure some good spring and summer riding. You should learn how to do some of the basics yourself, so don’t be afraid to ask your local technician how to do some routine things that will keep you making tracks.

Some accessories you should have: a good helmet, bike lights and brightly

colored clothing. Some accessories you should consider: spare tube, portable bike pump and/or CO2 cartridges and a multitool that all can be kept in a seat bag.

Above all, remember: Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy a bike, and that’s basically the same thing! Happy riding.~

Photos by Kristopher Radder — Vermont Country Daq Woods, a technician at Burrows Sports on Main Street in Brattleboro, gives a tune-up to a mountain bike. Health & Wellness
Joseph Mardeusz at Burrows Sports on Main Street in Brattleboro, goes over an e-bike.

olling Twenties'

Introducing Rockingham's first cannabis shop

ROCKINGHAM — Joe Ruggiero wanted a name that meant something when he and his son-in-law started planning for their hometown's new cannabis shop.

While there was a popular rumor that the shop would be called Heady Green, a tribute to Rockingham's famous resident and millionaire Hetty Green from 100 years ago,

Ruggiero said that was the witty idea of a Bellows Falls woman, but not him.

He had already picked the name "Rolling Twenties" about 18 months earlier when he started the lengthy approval process with the state of Vermont.

"'Rolling Twenties' is a play on words of the Roaring Twenties," said Ruggiero, noting the parallels between the

Photos by Kristopher Radder Vermont Country A new dispensary, Rolling Twenties, has opened at 440 Rockingham Road in Rockingham.

legalization of cannabis and the end of Prohibition.

Ruggiero started the process to be Rockingham's first cannabis shop, months before recreational retail cannabis became legal statewide in 2022. While there are several growers in the town, Rolling Twenties is the first cannabis dispensary.

On Jan. 1, the bright red shop at 440 Rockingham Road had a "soft" opening, as Ruggiero and his staff worked out the kinks of running the shop and creating their displays.

Ruggiero, a longtime resident of Saxtons River who also owns Ruggiero Waste Services, said he deliberately picked the location about a mile outside of the village of Bellows Falls, to cut down on the idle curiosity and provide a buffer from children.

Like all cannabis shops, you must show a valid government ID to get into the building and view and smell the product. You are then ushered into the main display room, where budtenders can inform the cannabis aficionados about the benefits of the different strains of cannabis for sale — all Vermont-grown.

You can choose between eight different varieties, which sell for $11 per gram, and with THC levels varying

from Smokey's Cake in Saxtons River, at 25.13 percent, to the less potent Viking, from Green Mountain Gardens in Saxtons River, which lists a 17.45 percent THC level.

One can also buy pre-rolls from 11 different growers in Vermont, including from Rockingham, Saxtons River and Vernon, as well as Stamford, Craftsbury and Randolph. They carry such names as Dirty Mimosa, Poochis' Papaya, Lust and Natty Bumpo.

Everything comes from Vermont farmers, Ruggiero said, and has been

tested by the state of Vermont for its THC level, as well as potential contaminants such as mold.

The 2023 growing season was terrible, Ruggiero said, because of the relentless rain starting in July. The 2022 growing season, by contrast, was great.

Ruggiero, 60, isn't a grower himself, but he said he has been contacted by local growers who are interested in finding an outlet for their product. "Everyone is welcome here," he said. He said the cannabis business in Vermont is "very green," if not completely

Pat Greenleaf, manager, Quentin Taylor, budtender, Brad Walsh, budtender, Joe Ruggiero, owner, Cyrene Lafayette, owner, and Richard Lafayette, owner. | 27
Quentin Taylor, budtender at Rolling Twenties in Rockingham, measures out some buds.

organic, as the growers capitalize on Vermont's reputation as "clean and green." All the cannabis is tested before it is sold, he said, for any mold or fungus or pesticides. "I can't say it's purely organic," he said.

The shop used to be DiBernardo's surveyor office, and the building, which is at the corner of Darby Hill Road and Route 5, is now painted a bright red, with most of its windows removed — state requirements for security concerns.

"We have a higher security system than banks," he joked. Only people over 21 are allowed to enter, you have to have a government ID..."

The three windows in the back of the building in the office have bars across them, shades of a jail cell.

"We have a higher security system than banks," he joked. Only people over 21 are allowed to enter, you have to have a government ID, and there are cameras at every angle of the business, inside and out. Customers have to be escort-

ed inside the showroom, he said. These are all state regulations, he explained with a shrug.

A new disability access ramp was built, and an earthen berm was requested by the Agency of Transportation to restrict access to the business via Darby Hill Road, rather than busy Route 5.

Ruggiero said he is selling a wide variety of Vermont-grown cannabis products, ranging from "flowers," (known more familiarly as buds to baby boomers), as well as a wide variety of edibles, tinctures and salves, and vape cartridges, as well as concentrates.

There's a deli, and a "cafe," with "puffer boxes." There are even two ATM machines in case visitors forget their cash. Federal law prohibits the use of credit cards or checks at cannabis dispensaries, Ruggiero said.

So far, the most popular items are Snoozeberry gummies, made by Highly Rooted, a Morristown firm. Highly Rooted also has three other edibles for sale at Rolling Twenties: Milk Chocolate, English Toffee and Good Mornin' Sunshine gummies.

Ruggiero said there are 470 cannabis growers in Vermont, and 76 retailers, and he said that while Vermont prices appear high, compared to Colorado or Massachusetts, it's because it is a relatively young industry in the state. He said he expected prices will come down.

Ruggiero said he and the staff are still working against the prejudice against recreational cannabis, and the perception that people believe it is either illegal, or just for those with a medical prescription.

Ruggiero said he even brought his accountant to see the setup, and he marveled at how cannabis had changed.

"He said to me, 'this is so unreal to me. Usually, this took place at the back of a parking lot.'"~

Brad Walsh, budtender at Rolling Twenties in Rockingham, picks out some buds out of a glass jar. A new dispensary, Rolling Twenties, has opened at 440 Rockingham Road in Rockingham.


DORSET — Luke Krueger’s day job teaching English at Arlington Memorial High School (AMHS) is a daily performance requiring dexterity in human relations and no small amount of creativity. But at certain times during the year, Krueger feels the call to hone his skills in a different way, as a member of the Dorset Players, one of the nation’s longest-running community theater companies.

For a person who already had a considerable background in theater through college and graduate school, as well a number of early teaching and staff career positions at various universities, Krueger said he “made the transition to high school teaching to stay in Vermont” as there were “very few college professorships available” in the state. This decision directly led him to the Players, but not without some level of hesitation.

Krueger — a playwright more than an actor/director — stumbled upon the Players and wasn’t certain if he could keep one of his core professional views in practice

“My involvement with the Players began with me cold calling them, and I was hoping they'd do one of my plays,” Krueger said. “I didn’t want to direct. I’m not a fan of playwrights directing their own plays. Theater's about collaboration, and for better or worse, I enjoy seeing what other people will do with my script.”

But a talk with Players’ past president Lynne Worth, who still produces the company’s springtime One Act Festival, changed his mind.

“Lynne suggested I keep my eye out for the call for one act plays, but she gave the caveat that if I wanted a play I wrote to be performed, I’d have to direct it,” Krueger said. “The festival is great for breaking in with the Players. It was a fabulous experience, and

showed me that the Players are a community theater group with professional ethos and talent.”

Like many other Players, Krueger was hooked. After wide acclaim for his one-act involvement, last fall, he directed the production of Ken Ludwig’s hit comedy, “The Game’s Afoot.”

A long tradition

The Dorset Players got its start in 1927 when a local couple, Dr. and Mrs. Edward Goodman, rallied a small group of local people to stage “39 East,” a 1920 work by the British playwright Rachel Crothers. The Goodmans successfully presented the play at the Dorset Town Hall.

Within a few months, the group involved in that production had organized as the Dorset Players, a community theater troupe whose goal was, and still is, to bring quality plays to town, with local people doing the acting.

Photos provided by Angie Merwin Scenes performed in a past production of the Dorset Players.

Dorset Players approaching century milestone

As they began to bring these shows to life, the group husbanded resources through donations and gate receipts and finally borrowed the balance needed to build a dedicated performance space. The result was the first Dorset Playhouse, which opened in 1929.

Sharing a new playhouse

The Players’ successful annual slate of community theater continued for several decades, except for a few seasons during World War II. Then in 1976, John Nassivera and the late Jill Charles leased the Dorset Playhouse to produce their first season of professional theater through what became the Dorset Theatre Festival.

Kevin O’Toole, a local attorney who has been with the Dorset Players for almost four decades, and serves as the group's unofficial historian, said the association with the local Equity company, which will continue to lease the playhouse for six months of the

year through 2039, has been long and fruitful.

“There is a mutual respect for the other’s mission to provide live theater to the Northshire and beyond,” O’Toole said.

One achievement of the alliance was construction of a new Dorset Playhouse in 2000 and 2001.

“The old theater had 215 very cramped seats, limited facilities and partial sightlines,” O’Toole said. “In other words, you were uncomfortable when you sat, could not see the stage because of the person in front of you, and had to wait in line for the bathroom.”

The last of these problems required lengthier intermissions.

The current facility has 296 seats with cushions on the back and plenty of legroom. The rake of the seats from front row to back row is 5.5 feet, so everyone has a good view of the stage. The lighting booth has an unobstructed

view, and the new playhouse has larger dressing rooms and rehearsal spaces.

“You are now comfortable where you sit, can see the stage and can go to the bathroom without a wait,” O’Toole said.

The newer Playhouse allows both groups to work from their strengths. As amateurs, the Dorset Players can afford to produce musicals and plays with larger casts. The Dorset Theatre Festival can focus on newer works and other hits with smaller professional casts and act as an incubator for both aspiring and well-known playwrights.

Joint decision-making

In keeping with its mission of community theater, the Dorset Players’ operations and direction are the result of shared governance.

“The Dorset Players don’t operate with the traditional structure of having an artistic director,” explained Paul

Photos provided by Angie Merwin Left: A scene performed in a past production of the Dorset Players. | 31
Above: A scene from "Casa Valentina" performed by the Dorset Players.

Michael Brinker, the company’s business manager and executive producer. Brinker, who left a professional stage career to pursue a second life as a gourmet chef, is now in what he calls his dream job, after having served the Players, in his own words, as “producer, stage manager, actor, prop wrangler, director and cookie baker.”

The organization’s board of directors makes a group decision about the upcoming season based on what plays directors, producers and the general membership put forth as suggestions.

Past president Worth also has filled multiple positions during her tenure with the Players and said the selection of plays and other events for the season, which runs October through May, is a process that can take up to a year.

“In the fall, the board will appoint a play-reading committee to select several potential shows for consideration,” Worth said. “By January, we host a directors’ meeting for anyone interested in the following season. They may consider our ideas, or if they have a play they are passionate about, they may present that along with casting and production requirements and potential royalties.”

When the committee has considered all proposals, the proposed list goes to the board for a final decision. Worth said the members strive to balance the season with a variety of offerings — comedy, drama, musicals and children’s theater.

She said it’s typical for a member to “move up the ranks.” Before directing a play, for example, a member must first have handled a broad cross-section of responsibilities, including acting, producing, stage managing and other roles.

Amateur professionals

Many Players come to the company as thriving local professionals in other industries. Current board president Donna Murray, has spent 30 years on executive boards as well as leading her thriving real estate company. But she is also is a trained vocalist who, in 1988, had no on-stage experience. That year, a friend encouraged her to audition for a Players musical, “Cole,” and the rest

is history.

“With five solos in that first show, I quickly became enthralled after hearing the first reaction from the audience,” Murray said. “With that, I began auditioning for musicals. I played ‘Aunt Eller’ in 1992 with a Golden Circle award which propelled me to continue. I appeared in a couple smaller roles along the way, then dared to audition for a farce in which I was cast as a lead. After a long break, I came back to play the female lead in 'On Golden Pond.' In between some of those shows, I did manage to be a producer for ‘The Wizard of Oz.’”

With that experience and a desire to donate time toward a more personal interest in the arts, Murray accepted a position on the Players board. In 2023, she assumed the role of president. Still, it’s clear her heart remains on stage.

“Live theater is unique and allows adults to express their creativity, and nurtures children to explore a field that may shape their futures,” Murray said. “We build confidence on stage and even foster other outlets of creative thinking behind the scenes. Live theater fills everyone’s soul. Our patrons laugh, sit on the edge of their seats, and escape into a fantasy world for a couple hours of their day. We deliver something important, something difficult to replicate in any other media.”

Behind-the-scenes support

Perhaps no one better exemplifies the ethos of the Dorset Players that Murray espoused than Tom Ferguson, a retired professional actor who earned his Actors Equity Association standing

by acting with the company. A decade ago, he devoted considerable time and effort in the one-act classic “I Am My Own Wife.”

“I had only recently returned to the stage after a long absence, and the opportunity to play this role would be any actor’s dream,” Ferguson said. “I worked diligently off and on for six months.”

Although there were no other actors on stage, Ferguson didn’t work in a vacuum. Other actors coached him, and he received support and guidance from the director, the stage manager and the entire technical crew.

“My teammates, if you will, consisted of 11 other people that never appeared on stage: not only the director and stage manager, but the scenic designer, costume and lighting designers, and the running crew — all amateur volunteers,” Ferguson said.

Working with that group, he said, was an inspiration.

“We have one of the most beautiful theaters in all of Vermont at our disposal,” Ferguson said. “We have talented, experienced technicians who give their time and energy to help create a fully realized production. In helping me realize my dream, the Dorset Players represent, to me, the highest level of professionalism in a non-professional world.”

For information and ticket to the remaining shows of the Dorset Players 2023-24 season, call the box office at 802-867-5777 or visit dorsetplayers. org.~

Photo provided by Dorset Players The Dorset Playhouse.

John and Molly Stark: A Revolutionary love story

Behind the legend of Molly Stark stands a woman capable of running a farm by herself, entertaining prominent guests, serving as a sentinel in wartime, or shooting a treed bear. She was also a woman clearly loved by her husband, for she was immortalized by words attributed to her husband at the Battle of Bennington.

There are many versions of the words her husband, Gen. John Stark, victorious commander of the revolutionary army at the Battle of Bennington, is

supposed to have said at the height of the fighting.

“Did Stark really say those words? You know the words, or you think you do,” author and local historian Phil Holland said at a talk at the Bennington Museum. “The first written reference that I found dates from 1819, in which Stark is said to address his troops with, ‘My boys, you see those red coats yonder, they must fall into our hands in 15 minutes, or Molly is a widow.’”

Another version has it, “There, my boys, are your enemies, the red-coats and Tories; you must beat them, or my wife sleeps a widow to-night.”

John Stark won the battle and Molly’s name has endured. Behind the name — a nickname, actually, was a woman just as real and admirable as her well-documented hero husband.

“The feeling that Molly is everywhere may also be due to her name on a school, a park, a trail, a mountain, a motel, a cannon, and a sanatorium in Stark County, Ohio,” Holland said.

Most of these named entities are in Vermont, even though historians doubt Molly ever set foot here.

“Her profile has changed, though, since the 19th century. From a passive

Photos by Mark Rondeau Vermont Country The Molly Stark statue in Wilmington. General John Stark. Illustration from the 1860 book, “Memoir and Official Correspondence of Gen. John Stark.” | 33
Molly Stark. Photo taken of the cover of the biographical pamphlet by Jane Elizabeth Stark Maney. A contemporary portrait of Molly Stark was painted by John Singleton Copley.

role in a pithy, romantic utterance in which her husband is ready to die for his country and is thinking of her, to being celebrated for her own love, courage, and self-reliance,” Holland said.

The inscription on the Molly Stark statue in Wilmington, along the Molly Stark Trail (Route 9), indicates this change to a broader appreciation of the woman behind the legend.

“Wife of General John Stark, mother of 11 children, homemaker, patriot, and defender of the household. Her love, courage, and self-reliance were common virtues among the many hearty women of frontier New England’s 18th century towns,” reads the inscription. “This strength and devotion to husband, home, and family were virtues that sustained her, as well as so many women and their families, during those times when their husbands were called to duty for their country in the constant French and Indian Wars and the American Revolution.”


A key source for the life of Molly Stark is the pamphlet “Molly Stark: a woman of great patriotism and courage” by Jane Elizabeth Stark Maney. She draws on both published sources and original documents.

Elizabeth Page was born in Haverhill, Mass., on Feb. 16, 1737, the daughter of Caleb and Elizabeth Page. “She was christened Elizabeth, nicknamed Betsey, and always called Molly by her

husband,” according to Maney’s pamphlet. The family eventually relocated to New Hampshire.

Young John Stark was a comrade of Captain Caleb Page, Elizabeth Page’s father. In 1753, Stark apparently expressed the desire to marry into Captain Page’s family because he’d heard the family brought good luck. Soon thereafter, the story goes, Betsey and John met at a barn-raising in Goffstown. John was a member of Rogers Rangers and away for extended periods, but they saw each other when he visited home.

They were married at her father’s house on Aug. 20, 1758. She was 21 and he was 30. After a brief honeymoon, John went back to duty with Rogers’ Rangers, a famous unit in the French and Indian War.

“Molly remained with her father and step-mother at the home in Dunbarton during the first three years of her marriage,” according to Maney. “John was away much of this time, and Molly had the safety and security of her father’s home. During this time, their first child, Caleb Stark, was born. Molly had two brothers and a sister who sometimes shared the home with her.”

Tragedy struck when Molly’s older brother Caleb Jr. was killed in the French and Indian War in the Battle on Snowshoes, which took place between Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point in New York on Jan. 21, 1757.

“Only 30 at the time of his death, his

father, Caleb Page, was grief-stricken and never got over the loss of his son. Molly shared this overwhelming grief with the rest of the family,” Maney writes.

Farm and family

The French and Indian War ended in 1763, and the couple had more than a decade to devote to their growing family. This period ended when the Revolutionary War broke out and John Stark headed off to raise a New Hampshire regiment and join the fight. The couple’s son, Caleb, 16, also enlisted, as did another son later on.

A letter from John to Molly survives. He writes of comfortable quarters he has in Medford, Mass., the home of a Tory who joined the British in Boston. “I am waiting impatiently upon your presence here in Medford,” John writes. “I have a pleasant and sufficiently large room, called the Marble Chamber, that looks out over the garden. ‘Tis comfortable enough, but seems empty without Someone to share it.”

Molly visited her husband several times at his headquarters during fighting in eastern Massachusetts.

She even participated in the Battle of Copp’s Hill, in north Boston, in 1775. She was stationed on horseback by her husband to alert the countryside if her husband’s troops were fired upon.

“The wife of Colonel Stark was at this time in the camp on a visit, and was directed by him to mount on horseback,

Danielle M. Crosier — Vermont Country Brigadier General John Stark played a vital role in the Battle of Bennington. Vermont Country file photo
The General John Stark monument at the Bennington Battle Monument.

after the embarkation of the troops, and remain in sight to watch the result. If the party were fired upon, she was directed to ride into the country, spread the alarm, and arouse the people. The troops effected their passage over the river unmolested. She observed them land, advance up the height and take possession of the battery,” according to the book “Memoir and Official Correspondence of Gen. John Stark” by Caleb Stark, published in 1860. “The wife of General Stark has often related this incident.”

Still raising young children herself, Molly stayed home as the fighting moved west and lasted several more years. During the war, life was hard for women keeping the home front going. John Stark highlights this in the first sentence of the letter quoted above: “I trust you and the children are well, and that work on the Farm is progressing to your satisfaction.”

Smallpox was a common disease. Molly wished to be a pioneer in inoculating her family against the disease. Although the smallpox vaccine had not been invented yet, “people were experimenting by inoculating themselves with serum obtained from human victims,” Maney writes.

“Molly asked the General Court for permission to inoculate her children and her servants. Her petition was denied, probably because she was a woman,” Maney writes. “This request was finally granted when John Himself applied for permission.”

Another incident shows that erecting a statue of Molly with a rifle in Wilmington was no imaginative stretch.

“One night she was called upon to shoot a bear that had been treed by the family dogs near her house in New Hampshire. Molly, defending her family in the absence of her husband, shot the bear and instructed her farm help to carry it away.”

Joy and loss

When the war ended successfully in 1783, John and Molly settled back into family and community life in New Hampshire.

John generally eschewed public life and took care of his farm, where he and Molly raised their 11 children. The only exception he made was to attend town meetings. John reportedly gave nicknames to all the children, as well as to nephews and nieces.

Molly had a lively and independent nature. While she loved her husband, and helped counterbalance his tempestuous temper, she did not always obey him. “Her calm but firm way kept her husband from intimidating her on various occasions,” Maney writes.

While Molly enjoyed going out to weddings, christenings, and all sorts of gatherings, John often did not

“The family told the story of one event that Molly was planning to attend, against the wishes of her husband. John hid her best dress in the butter churn. Molly found another garment and went to the party alone, only to find upon arriving home, that he had locked her out of the house,” Maney writes. “She calmly got into the house through a window and greeted her husband warmly at breakfast as though nothing unusual had happened.”

Molly and John lived to see the births of numerous grand-

children and also several great-grandchildren. “Many of them lived at the Stark family mansion, a large and happy family,” Maney writes.

One granddaughter described Molly as always calm and composed: “a dignified lady.”

“John and Molly always had an annual ‘Harvest Home,’ a sort of good-will party for all their neighbors and friends. Like most parents, their lives revolved around their children and grandchildren. They never shrank for merrymaking,” Maney writes.

Molly nursed her husband through frequent bouts of rheumatism that were aggravated by his years of sleeping on the ground in all kinds of weather. She also frequently entertained influential visiting colonists, not surprising given her husband’s prominence. In 1809, the couple attended the inauguration of President James Madison.

Still, life was particularly hard in those days. Molly outlived six of her 11 children. She was healthy all her life until she contracted typhoid fever and died on June 29, 1814, at age 77.

The general took the loss of his wife of 56 years very hard. As her body was borne away from the house after her funeral, Stark, unable to follow, said, “Good-bye my Molly, we sup no more together on earth.” As more than one writer has noted with bitter irony, that night John Stark slept a widower.

The “Hero of Bennington” soldiered on until May 8, 1822, dying at age 93 in Manchester, N.H.~ | 35
Mark Rondeau — Vermont Country The Molly Stark statue in Wilmington.

“Spinning is my favorite thing to do. I just love spinning,” says White, who finds the task to be soothing. Not only is it a creative outlet, but it is deeply soothing and replenishing to her spirit.

Two of the alpacas at Wing and a Prayer Farm stare curiously out from the alcove to the barn. Because it does not contain lanolin, the wool produced by alpacas is hypoallergenic. It is also silky and fine, and rather luxurious.

Spinning yarns at Wing and a Prayer Farm in Shaftsbury

It's a lifestyle
Photos by Danielle M. Crosier Vermont Country Christopher Robin, the farm's Billie goat, has a hankering for mints and granola bars — and whatever else might reside within pockets. He's also fiercely defensive of the flock.

Some of the many sheep at Wing and a Prayer Farm lounge about in one of the paddocks, with the woods in the distance.

SHAFTSBURY — Fiber farmer and educator Tammy White of Wing and a Prayer Farm in Shaftsbury is sitting at the old wooden spinning wheel in her home-based workshop — her feet are methodically treading the pedals; her fingers are deftly feeding the wool.

Beneath her, a lengthy trail of pale cerulean and azure fluff dangles to the floor. But, as it passes through her fingers, a stunning and variegated blue yarn winds itself onto the bobbin.

She is an artist at work.

“Spinning is my favorite thing to do. I just love spinning,” says White, enthusiastically. “Wool has these little hooks on it. If you look at the wool under a microscope, you would see that the fiber has scales, you know, and they kind of bond to each other.”

She pauses, tranquilly letting the task take over.

“So, it’s just the spinning of it, and adding tension. And, the little hooks, hook onto each other like Velcro. And, that’s how you make yarn.”

White is a practiced educator, teaching workshops on farming and shepherding, wool processing, harvesting materials for making natural dyes, and the actual methods and techniques of natural dyeing.

“Different wool has different amounts of — uh, we call it crimp,” she says, laughing, as she gently educates me.

“So, it might spin up better because it has more crimp and, if it has less crimp, it might take more to get it to hold. So, depending on what it is — like there’s Shetland wool in this and there’s Valais Blacknose — and the combination of them makes a really nice yarn. I can make a very long thin thread. The Valais Blacknose has a super long staple length. That's what we call it, you know, when we shear them.”

White explains that the interval between shearing the Shetlands and the Valais Blacknose is about the same, but the Valais Blacknose provides much longer strands of wool, with less crimp than the Shetland. In contrast, the Shetland wool is shorter, crimpier, and very fine. By melding the two together, a soft and fine yarn with good tensile strength can be produced.

deeper blue. She carded both fleece with the drum carder, and combed it into a batt in preparation for spinning. The batt is preweighed, so she has already calculated the weight of the skein.

“The next thing I’ll do is ply it on itself.” One-ply is moderately strong, but two- or three-ply increases the strength and thick-

Most of the homemade dyes that White uses are grown in her dye garden. Madder and hopi red aramanthus, weld, marigold, calendula, indigo, woad, coreopsis, and nasturtiums — all are cultivated and harvested on the premises. In the nearby woods, she harvests for barks, leaves, weeds, lichens, mushrooms, and nuts. From the kitchen, onion peels and avocado skins. And, from the barns and sheds, rusty nails.

“It's like recipes in the kitchen, but with all of my different kinds of sheep,” White says.

“And this is like the story of yarn — yarn, it's like, when I spin it, it's all about tension. So, like, at a certain point, there’s going to be enough tension that it's going to loop on itself.”

The yarn that White is currently spinning is shorn from her Shetland and Valais Blacknose sheep — and it is dyed by her as well.

White sheared the sheep, and then washed and dyed the two fleece separately — one with a fresh indigo for a greenish tint, and the other with fermented indigo for a

ness of the yarn. The thicker the yarn, the greater the tensile strength.

The process of turning raw wool into skeins of yarn is complex and varied, and it is incontestable that White’s brain is spinning as fast as her wheel. There’s a subtext to the conversation, a profound comprehension of applied mathematics, physics, chemistry — not to even mention the biological sciences that make it all possible.

She’s picking and choosing what is essential information, and not trying to overwhelm. I know she isn’t dumbing it down for me, but she’s processing rapidly to find ways to

Danielle M. Crosier — Vermont Country Danielle M. Crosier — Vermont Country | 37

explain the complexity of the production process in a tangible way and, again, I recognize the educator peeking out from behind the farmer.

White, who raises sheep, goats, alpacas, ponies, a horse, and an assortment of cats and dogs on her small farm, also travels. She just recently returned from a trip to Boston. Soon, she’ll be headed for New York City. She’s sorting through large containers that are filled with various skeins of yarn, twisting and looping them back in a practiced twist. She’s fixing tags and taking count. She’s up and down, and all around.

And, suddenly, I’m struck with a thought — if the yarn were balls instead of skeins, she’d probably be juggling them.

As she begins bustling about her workshop — prepping orders and a donation for a local school event — White explains the ins and outs of fiber farming, raising her animals, the struggles of farming, and the art of dyeing.

“Let me tell you what’s what,” she offers, showing off her vast collection of colorful flower petals and whatnots.

“Dahlias are those red purpley ones. And those are cosmos — the cosmos are these bright orange ones. And, then, these are dyer's chamomile, these little yellow ones. And then, way up yonder, there’s a jar of maca root and then the next one over makes a really deep purple. The next, next one over is kosha neil, which comes from these little dead beetles. It makes this beautiful brilliant pink fuchsia color.”

Most of the homemade dyes that White uses are grown in her dye garden. Madder and hopi red aramanthus, weld, marigold, calendula, indigo, woad, coreopsis, and nasturtiums — all are cultivated and harvested on the premises. In the nearby woods, she harvests for barks, leaves, weeds, lichens, mushrooms, and nuts. From the kitchen, onion peels and avocado skins. And, from the barns and sheds, rusty nails.

Her workshop is brilliant — color is everywhere. Hand-dyed yarns and textiles fill the crates and shelves against the walls. The spinning wheel sits on a fleece rug between the workbench and the fireplace, the halfspun skein of gradient blues adorning the top and the long tuft of unspun wool dangling beneath. Dried bunches of flowers and plants are hung from the rafters above. The table is littered with the tricks of the trade, orders, and more skeins of luxurious colored yarn.

The place is vibrantly alive.

Wing and a Prayer Farm/Aliza Eliazarov Pippa, before and after a shearing. Pippa, one of White's beloved ewes, was just recently taken down by coyotes. “You know, as long as you have living things, you will have dying things, explains White, but she is deeply saddened and troubled by the incident. “

“That’s just some iron mordant that I use,” says White, pointing at yet another jar on the shelf. “I prepare the fiber with different types of things like tannins and mordants. A mordant is

a facilitator. It means to bind. It helps the color from the pigment in nature to bind to the fiber.”

“There’s lots of things in nature that you can use to prepare the fiber. Like, first, I have to scour it because — if there’s any impurities in it — it could prevent the best dyeing. When you’re working with nature, you want to prep it,” explains White. “It’s super crucial.”

The process of dyeing natural fibers with natural dyes is intricate and requires an understanding of the properties, tendencies, aspects, and characteristics of both the fibers and the dyes. The preparation of the fiber material, though, is perhaps the most integral to the process. Without proper preparation of the material, the results of the dye will not be predictable or reliable.

Next, White prepares the mordant. “I always have various stages,” she points out the vat of saturated scarves dripping from a sieve. “After I mordant them, I sometimes use tannins. Like, acorns are tannins. Oak leaves provide tannins. So, I’ll collect them in a large kettle — like this. I’ve been soaking these little shawls, scarves, in oak gall. It’s kind of gross looking. I soak them in the tannin, and then I’m going to dye them next.”

The process of natural dyeing is what White plans on teaching in New York City. First, the attendees of her workshop will learn about the properties of the fabrics that she has brought. Then, they will learn about the pre-prep. Next, they will be advised about the characteristics of the different natural dyes and about dye extraction. Eventually, they’ll get to the dyeing.

“So,” White laughs, squishing the sodden shawl material. “These are going to go with me to New York this weekend. They’re very popular. It’s always last-minute everything, you know. I have to leave Wednesday night, but probably I’ll be pulling them out Wednesday morning — and I’ll probably have them drying in my hotel room.”

The event in New York City, which is sponsored by Vogue, will be held at the New York Marriott Marquis. White, among around 50 teachers, will teach natural dyeing.

White, who describes herself as a country mouse going to the city, is feeling a twinge of excitement about the upcoming event. “I’m looking forward to it because it will be different and fun, but I’ve taught so much and I’m very comfortable teaching. So, I’m not nervous about teaching,” exclaims White, grabbing a knitted scarf, and winding it over her hair and around her neck. “I’m just nervous about where to park my car, and things like that.”

“I’ll be vending Friday, Saturday, Sunday,” she ticks off the days on her fingers as we head to the barn through the sodden ground and the crunchy spring snow, her working dogs running and dancing raucously ahead of us. White recites her schedule as a mantra, almost to solidify the agenda in her head.

“I would rather have, you know, a lot of things happening with the farm. I’m really a country mouse in the city, I feel. And, it's not that I don’t enjoy it — it's kind of fun and different. It's just a matter of not being used to it, you know? And, I enjoy the outdoors a lot, and I’m not comfortable in the outdoors in the city. I’m used to walking on grassy ground. I don’t even have a paved driveway,” she exclaims, almost joyfully, lifting a mucky booted foot up and laughing. “You know, I’m not used to pavement,


so those things start to sort of give me a little bit of stress.”

Even though some of the venues give her stress, some come with their own perks.

“One of the places that I vend at, it’s in a series of greenhouses,” confides White. “It’s near Boston, and it's just joyful to be there in January because, you know, it's freezing outside. It's been so cold here, and I go there, and gosh — it's just kind of tropical and you’re surrounded by plants and everybody’s really happy — that is nice. There must be a dozen greenhouses — it's a huge complex. And, so, we get to set up in the greenhouses — and I just love that because I get to be by all those plants.”

White speaks about the stress of being indoors all day, and not seeing the sun and the sky and the land, and suddenly wondering what time it is. When she’s on her farm, there’s a harmony she feels, with the environment — a vast connectedness.

“I’m really in tune with nature,” she explains, softly. “My sheep are just walking along, gently, and they have their little hooves to aerate the soil. It’s the perfect combination of like, earth-caregiver. And they go around and they’re filling their little tums up and then they’re sitting out there so peacefully and ruminating and chewing their cud and growing this beautiful wool, and then we sear them and spin the wool and make garments to stay warm, and we can color it with pigment from nature. And, often, you see the birds, and they’re alighting on the sheep because they’re eating seeds and insects. To me, it’s so holistic. It’s not harmful to the earth; it’s helpful.”

The little woolies that she so affectionately refers to have seen and heard her coming, and they are swarming around White. She sinks down into their embrace and they nuzzle and rub and nudge and butt her. Some are so excited to see her that they can barely contain their enthusiasm. They’re literally pouncing and bouncing on their tiny hooves.

“This is Joshua, this is Josie, this is Pansy — and Peach Pie is around the corner. And that’s Pansy Junior, Greta, Eleanor, Nick Junior —” White introduces her lovies amidst their clamor for attention. “They’re my babies.”

“Are you jellie?” she cries gleefully to one, scratching him under the chin and nearly toppling over as they all jostle and bustle around her. “You’re silly. Oh no, you’re such a silly sill,” she croons endearingly. She is radiating pure joy, drinking in the love. There is a moment of intimacy, an exhilarating joy and a great affection to this greeting, and watching feels slightly intrusive.

“Shetlands come in 11 colors,” White calls out, pointing to the Shetlands. “There’s a lot more to sheep than you would think. People think it’s just sheep. On my farm, as it is, I have eight different breeds. And each of the breeds of sheep have a fascinating and interesting heritage — and stories. It’s just like people, you know, depending on where you come from your fiber might be different, your hardiness might be different. Like, the Shetland sheep are native to the Shetland islands. There’s not trees — there’s no coverage, so their behavior is more wary and skittish generally because they don’t have a place to hide if they’re in danger.”

On the other side of the barn is another flock of sheep in a field with Christopher Robin, the Billie goat. There are sheep literally everywhere, and introductions begin again, “That’s Juno, that’s Drama, that’s Jubilee and Jubbee, Peach Pudding, Winona —”.

Christopher Robin is giving me the side-eye; it’s a stink eye — head lowered, and just this side of glowering. He’s sizing me up, deciding if he can take me.

“He knows you’ve got something in your pocket,” White says, grinning wickedly.

It’s a mint and, not wanting to get on his bad side, I relinquish it readily.

“Almeda is the quad queen,” White exclaims proudly, indicating a solid black ewe lounging peacefully in the straw by the alcove to the barn. “She has four babies every spring.”

Christopher Robin, meanwhile, has taken quite a hankering to the mint.

“We call them the A-Team. I give them all names that start with the letter of the mom, like Aurora, Andromeda, Athena, Angelina (she had four girls one year). Then it was Alegra, Alice in Wonderlamb, Amadeaus, Atlas. Most sheep have one or two, so for her to have four every year is kind of unusual,” says White, whose flock produces upwards of thirty or more lambs per year — most are sold to other fiber farmers or hobbyists. Some, mostly those she gets attached to, remain on the farm and join the multi-generational herd.

A horse wanders by us, ambling slowly across the lawn — free of constraints. Her name is Izzy and she spends her nights and evenings | 39
Danielle M. Crosier — Vermont Country White sinks down into the embrace of her sheep, and they nuzzle and rub and nudge and butt her. There is a moment of intimacy, an exhilarating joy and a great affection to this greeting — and watching feels slightly intrusive.

in an interior barn stall with the sheep. There are also ponies, in a pen near the sheep.

“They’re not going to defend the flock, but they’re alarmists,” says White of the ponies. “They’re like a monitor on the woods, and I always know when there’s activity going on over here. Last night, everybody was up all night and the coyotes were out, so I hardly slept last night.”

In addition to the alarmist ponies, the property is protected by a number of farm dogs and the covetous Christopher Robin. Barn cats guard the property from mouse invaders, as well. But a very real threat does come from the coyotes.

“One of my ewes, my beautiful Pippa, was lost a few nights ago,” says White, reminiscing tenderly.

She looses a deep and lengthy sigh.

“And, so, every night the coyotes have been yipping and howling and prowling around. Every night, they’ve just been so noisy and my inside dogs as well as my outside dogs are just barking all night and I can’t sleep because everyone’s up in arms about these coyotes roaming and prowling. It’s frustrating.”

The loss of Pippa was devastating for White, and she recalls her tenderly — but it is also a part of life. Where there is great love, there is great loss.

“You know, as long as you have living things, you will have dying things. I’m a very sensitive person, and very sentimental. So, having had to develop the skills to be in business — but also be responsible for all of the living things — meant that I had to reconcile and compartmentalize when things that are hard happened. It’s not that I’m thicker skinned or anything like that, but I look at the big picture of how I need to be here, and carry on.”

“They haven’t made any more kills,” she adds of the coyotes, “but it’s only a matter of time. And, I’m working on a solution — and Finn and Brady are helping me out.”

Finn and Brady are two high schoolers, neighbors, who help White out as farmhands. Today, they’re cleaning off the pond, prepping the surface for skating. A few days ago, they were loading wood and hauling deliveries.

“I’m really fortunate to be surrounded by, like, lots of good people in my life that, you know, try to help me.”

Her kids are in their early 30s and have their own lives. She’s in this alone. “They’ll help me, you know, but they’re not passionate about it like I am.”

Danielle M. Crosier — Vermont Country White sorts through large containers that are filled with various skeins of yarn, twisting and looping them back in a practiced twist. “And this is like the story of yarn — yarn, it's like when I spin it, it's all about tension. So, like, at a certain point, there’s going to be enough tension that it's going to loop on itself.”

With the sounds of the coyotes prowling the edges of the woods and the pond, and the uproar and chaos of the farm continuing unabated through the night, White is exhausted. Still, she finds her work on the farm exhilarating.

She loves this work, and she thrives here.

“Sometimes, I try to give myself permission to do something besides work. It’s just tricky because there’s so much to do. If I don’t do it, then who will do it? So, I might as well do it — and then, I will be — hopefully — caught up.”

This struggle is an everyday struggle for any farmer, whose daily duties involve the care of living creatures. Because White cares so much, her investment load is heavy.

“I get together with friends — we try to have a once a week commitment to get together. And, that’s really very very hard for me — not to think of it as frivolous time. It’s just that I know how good it is for me. I was talking to a friend yesterday and I said, if I could change something from the last ten years, it would be to get more sleep, White says. “It’s so good for you to get the proper rest and I just used to grind so much and say, rest later. You know, I have the rest of my life

to do that.”

“You know, I have a really strong desire to keep myself physically healthy so that I can keep doing what I’m doing. And, I recognize now that I’m older and wiser, that sleep is one of the key things that will help me stay a shepherd longer.” White glances back at the troubling woods, most likely calculating how much sleep she can expect tonight.

“It’s super fulfilling to go out and view the animals — to be a part of this cycle,” explains White, almost wistfully. “And, you know, for me - because I work on it and I’m a part of this from the time that the lamb is born to the time that I’m putting a tag on the yarn. It’s just very meaningful. And, even on the hardest days, I can’t imagine a better bonus. I’m doing something so meaningful. I love the work that I’m doing here.”

Life is full of tension and stress, and farming can be the ficklest of friends.

A farmer is at the whim of nature — and nature’s truest character is that it is often brutal, and utterly indifferent to the comforts of mankind. A farmer is at the whim of the environment — and the environment will relentlessly resist constraints, and encroach on every effort of domesticity. And, a farmer is at the whim of the economy — where cries for mercy often fall on deaf ears. Farming is a gamble, even in the best of times.

But, being a fiber farmer is what drives White, she has found her truest passion in life — and it is palpable.

“I want to stay a shepherd as long as I can,” says White, gazing up at the cloud-shrouded sun and then off into the woods beyond. But, just like the story of yarn — where it’s all about the tension — sooner or later there will come a day when the tensile strength is not enough, or the yarn loops back on itself. Today is not that day, and tomorrow isn’t either. These are good days, and White is vibrantly alive.

For now, her dedication and commitment to persevering is purposeful and — almost tenacious.

The desire to continue doing what she loves, caring and tending to her animal friends — the loves of her life — with a zeal and an ardent devotion is what brings her delight, joy, contentment, and pleasure. This, and teaching others about her passion for wool, fiber arts, color, and texture — passing on that ancient understanding of the natural world, and our place within it — they all fulfill her.

She loves this work, and she thrives here.~

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Going for more in 2024

With help from local experts, create a cheerier home this spring

— With the holidays past but snow reluctant to cast its wintry spell on Southern Vermont (as of this writing), how do we bring cheer to our surroundings? Mary Jo Gourd, owner of MJG Interiors in Manchester, says, “my philosophy is that the home is a sanctuary where you feel peace and joy, so that when you walk out the door, you take that peace and joy with you.”

To those among us who find a beer bottle makes a nice candleholder and wash the dishes only when they reach Eiffel Tower proportions, peace and joy may seem alien concepts for design — but it’s still a new year. Why not try a new home?

Mary Jo constantly looks at space differently from the way most of us do, so I turned to her for some guidance.

First off, she offers ideas on larger, practical matters and larger renovations. Kitchens increasingly tempt homeowners to consider induction over gas. While there are larger environmental questions — gas arguably uses more natural resources — there are also practical ones: heat powered by electricity and electromagnetism is fast, thereby speeding up cooking. For some of us, speeding us away from cooking is a blessing.

Second, new “RainStick” technology allows for recycling water when showering, perhaps not as urgent an issue here (as opposed to the Southwest). Still, the company’s claim is this: “RainStick doubles your water flow, connects to your smart home, and uses up to 80% less water and energy, saving you up to $1,000 per year on water and energy bills.”

Third, heat pumps relieve reliance on fossil fuels and provide cheaper alternatives — both for heating and cooling. (Green Mountain Power continues to offer rebates of up to $6,500, as well as other suggestions for a more efficient home.)

Mary Jo turns to smaller-scale suggestions: Color. Consider a “color memory.” What color do you associate with something in your life that brings you joy? Use that color to create a path through your home or

feature that color in a place. If that color is pink, for example, it may be present in pink tulips that you bring home from the store or a pillow (and the whole pillow need not be pink, by the way). Creating a path that features this color allows areas of your house to have harmony. Of course, paint can bring a relatively cheap, dramatic change.

Organization. This means “everything has a place.” Mary Jo does not mean homeowners need to go full Marie Kondo on their home. It costs little or nothing to take stock. If a lamp or chair or table or blanket no longer gives you joy, donate it (and perhaps it will bring joy to someone else). Knowing that your keys will always be in a particular place relieves stress; figure out a consistent spot.

Who knows what you may discover in a little-used drawer or closet? At the very least, after an hour, you will have a small area of your life that is in order, and a space for your new mitten collection.

Lighting. Play around with various light bulbs and candles, and, of course, candles are a way of adding scents, too, that may help create a calm space.

These concepts — color, organization, light — may seem easy to understand, but hard to put into practice. Watch designers at work. They may simply gaze at a wall, enter a trance, snap to and order paintings to be placed — “here! there! — no 5 inches to the right! — yes!” And in seven minutes, pictures look right, look in harmony, something a mere mortal could not conjure with measuring tapes, laser beams and geothermal sensing.

To help us schlubs of decorating bring more harmony and joy to a space, Mary Jo suggests we go to Depot 62 in Manchester, and she would demonstrate.

A word about Depot 62, owned by Alp Basdogan (who deserves a column or two himself). Although he is Turkish and started his business in New York City, there is something Vermonty about his operation. Just like people who landscape in the summer, plow in winter and sell antique stoves on the side, Alp prepares gourmet Turkish food and sells rugs and other home furnishings from a huge inventory. Go in for a meal; go home with a couch. Alp graciously consented to use Depot 62 as a staging area, and Mary Jo quickly went to work.

I've included images highlighting what you might look for in arranging your own home. If needed, head to Depot 62, T.J. Maxx or your own basement for just the right pillow or candlestick. ~

Photos by Gordon Dossett Vermont Country Mary Jo Gourd is the owner of MJG Interiors in Manchester.

OK, the haphazard arrangement here might be a dead giveaway, but I will confess that my own couches often have a similar, er, design.

Now in this new improved version, pillows have been plumped up, and a contrasting dark blue throw picks up on the faded blue of the two pillows. The tray, coffee cup and books hint at a larger point: that everything need not be nice, neat and straight. Contrasts of shape and texture help make a space comfortable, lived-in and inviting.

In this second setting, Mary Jo set matching striped chairs around a leather couch and coffee table. What do you think of the patterned, colorful occasional seat in front?

Right — the whirly seat must go! (In the mirror, Mary Jo looks on in dismay in the previous photo.) Try this. The squarish seats pick up on the regularity of the table, and the oatmeal color suggests the same color on the circular bowl on the table. The black throw softens the couch’s shape, deepening the dark stripes in the chair. The two pillows and that squiggly thing (yes, that’s the designer name for it) complement the brown leather. The colorful fabrics (lower left) tie into the carpet colors.

On to a third situation: Two leather chairs, separated by a stool that can double as a side table topped with a tea tray. Do you like the pillow on the left, with freeform blue and red shapes?

Mary Jo liked the matching pillows, thinking they harmonized and picked up on the fabric of the side piece. A final word: many choices enter into any decorating decision. Don’t let them overwhelm you. Just choose one or two things and start — and watch a hint of joy nudge out the winter gloom. | 43

The last alt-independent radio station in the country

Meet the DJs at WEQX

MANCHESTER — Marilyn Monroe, faced with the scandal of having posed nude for a calendar, retorted: “It’s not true that I had nothing on. I had the radio on.”

Given a fleeting image of a naked Marilyn Monroe, our first thought might not be about radio — and that seems precisely the point. Radio, like the air that carries sounds to our ears, is present, simultaneously everywhere and seemingly nowhere.

And in Southern Vermont and beaming out past Albany and Williamstown and Keane, no radio is more present than WEQX 102.7, blasting its signal 50,000 watts strong from Mount Equinox. With the app, the reach is worldwide.

With the closing Feb. 1 of WWCD, CD 92.9 in Columbus, Ohio, WEQX has attained a distinction, according to Jeff Morad, EQX program director: It is the only independent alternative radio station in the country. No other privately owned broadcaster in the country has one station dedicated to alternative music.

While most stations typically have five new songs in rotation, Jeff

says EQX currently has 69.

The guiding principle is simple: “If it’s good, we play it.”

Its independent ethos goes back to its founder, Brooks Brown. In 1984, he launched the station. After a foray into adult contemporary music, WEQX switched to adult album and grunge, settling on its identity as the Real Alternative, its catchphrase today. Brown deflected advance after advance to sell to larger communication companies. In a 2009 article in the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union, he said he told interested buyers, "It's not very complicated: How deep are your pockets? Send me your first born as a nonrefundable down payment, and we’ll go from there."

He never sold.

When Brown died in 2013, according to the Rutland Herald, then longtime radio host Donna Frank called Brown "a god among men.” She said, “He made the world about a thousand times more interesting. Thank you for EQX, and for teaching us the very definition of independence.”

Brown’s widow, Mimi, decided to honor Brown by broadcasting his

Joy Proft in the WEQX broadcast studio.


funeral live from the family’s backyard. She called on hosts Jeff Morad and Jason Keller, and even though they had never gone to a location without any setup and broadcast live, they pulled it off.

Mimi Brown continues as owner to this day. And in Brooks Brown’s quirky, independent spirit, she was the one who kindly greeted me upon entering the EQX building to interview hosts, but later declined a request for a photo or interview for this story.

Fortunately, several DJs who continue to shape WEQX agreed to speak about themselves and the station. Part of the charm of looking into the operation is its haphazardly organized offices inside a Victorian house and its website, where you’ll find one DJ's top songs from 2021, another’s from 2022.


Jeff Morad hosts Early EQX, Monday to Saturday, 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. On Thursday evening and Saturday morning, he hosts Jam N’ Toast. He’s off the air on Sunday.

Jeff began broadcasting at Gannon University in Pennsylvania and earned his first paycheck spinning songs on Cape Cod. He worked at a station in Denver before starting at WEQX.

Favorite memories of his time at the station include an in-house concert by Weezer in 2017. It came about because the band manager called and asked what it would take for the station to play, “Feels like Summer.” Jeff said, facetiously, an inhouse concert. The next day, he got a call: Is there an airstrip nearby?

Weezer ended up flying into Albany and putting on a little Manchester show, posted on the station’s website. The station, in turn, started playing “Feels Like Summer.” (Fun test: Play the song and see if the station’s first impulse was right.)

Jeff remembers a Noah Kahan concert. Just as he was starting what Jeff called Kahan’s “insane rise to fame,” Kahan committed to a concert at Village Garage Distillery. He ended up filling Boston Calling — 40,000 people May 27; four days later, he honored his commitment and played an EQX concert — for 100 fans.

Another highlight for Jeff is a personal one. After he’d worked at the station a couple of years, Brooks Brown asked if he wanted to trek out and have a look at the transmitter. Brooks was known for helping build it and tinker on it; Jeff felt honored to be asked.

He recalls PearlPalooza from 2018.

WEQX sponsors the annual “free, all-ages” event on North Pearl Street in Albany. That year, the headliner pulled out at the last minute. Casting about, Jeff couldn’t believe his luck: Portugal the Man agreed to step in, forgoing a second concert date in New York City to help out PearlPalooza. In appreciation, the station arranged for balloons to be distributed — and when the band played “Purple, Yellow, Red, and Blue,” hundreds of purple, yellow, red and blue balloons drifted skyward.


While on the job, Joy Proft artfully lined up songs, announced titles and answered my questions. She probably could have queued up some Future Island or new Depeche Mode and juggled a chainsaw, too.

Joy trained in radio and communication at Syracuse University. Her long career in music includes a stint with Universal, where her sales position led her to tout, among many acts, an up-and-coming 15 year old who wrote her own songs — Taylor Swift.

She became senior vice president at Universal, but left when restructuring occurred in 2009, and she felt the tug of Vermont. Here she ran a clothing store in Manchester, sold it, and returned to radio when a midday spot opened up.

Her LinkedIn profile lists her as a certified bra fitter and substitute pastor. On air she talks of gardens and birds (and listeners in turn send her coasters and mugs with birds on them). The exuberant flow of words may seem effortless, but Joy daily writes notes about events and people that might engage listeners. In short, effortlessness takes effort. (Or as Jason Keller tells me later about DJing: “there is a craft to being effortless.”)

I asked Joy about memorable moments at the station, and just thinking of one moves her to the verge of tears. Manchester is the unlikely home of a nonprofit, The Kenya Drylands Educational Fund (KDEF). For years, co-founder Sarah Hadden has been raising funds for an area in Kenya hard-hit by drought. When the floods hit Vermont last August, a community in central Kenya raised funds by selling goats and donated the money, $400, to those suffering from flooding in Londonderry. People living 7,000 miles away in great poverty wanted to help those suffering here in Vermont.

Joy read about the donation in the Manchester Journal. Moved by the gesture, she told the story on air. Similarly moved, a listener donated $500 to KDEF, to return

the gesture of goodwill. And it is that completion of the circle, compassion among strangers, that causes Joy to shake her head in appreciation months later.

Everyday, Joy takes requests for the Retro Lunch. ”Making someone’s day if it’s their birthday or they request a song. I love that … I am listening to music each day with people. Each day is a new day.”


Jason Keller, the EQX afternoon host for 10½ years, started off at the Plattsburgh State College radio station, eventually running things. “And then you’re back on the couch and there’s nothing.” After numerous cold calls, he got his first paying job at 106.7 WIZN in Burlington as a fill-in host.

In the arts, “you need someone to open that door.” He credits Steve Cormier, his first program director, who now is in Vermont’s broadcasters hall of fame.

He was on the air at The Edge 103.9 in Albany, where he followed Howard Stern, which he called “great — and terrifying at first. I hadn’t seen the daylight too much as an on-air host. I’d been buried in the open-mic nighttime slots.” He regrets that up-and-coming DJs today don’t have the opportunity to “be bad — but still be believed in. The opportunities (today) are just getting smaller and smaller to cut your teeth.”

“I think part of the on-air world that is the tough part … is to do it day in and day out, to dream up content. You’re constantly | 45
Photos by Gordon Dossett — Vermont Country Jeff Morad in his office at WEQX.

thinking, ‘Is this entertaining? Is this informative?’ ... Oftentimes, I’ll ditch out on things I was going to say 10 seconds out. You develop a sense: ‘[is the audience] going to tune out after three seconds?’”

Keller (it's hard to call him Jason since he's Keller on air) tells a story from early in his career, when he had the graveyard shift. The morning host would come in, “the most disheveled guy I’ve seen, and … he would hit the on mic, and he was the smoothest man I’ve ever heard … And I thought: ‘how does he even do that?” And now after years behind the mic, he knows how. He doesn’t even think of the large, silent, invisible audience. He thinks, “If it makes sense to me, it will make sense to others.”

One of the hardest things is to become yourself because it is an artificial environment to be in a room essentially by yourself and sound like “we’re talking … You are yourself or some version of yourself.” Keller sees his on-air self as an extension of himself: “me but a little louder or projected.”

Keller especially likes championing new music. He gave an example of the station taking up a band from, say, California, not being played by another station in the area, the band having no local roots. The band performs locally “and they have people singing back their songs,” which shows the station has reached the audience. “We see it — that’s really gratifying,” Keller says.

A band he singles out is Say She She, which “really hits some heights over the last year.” The band’s “discodelic” sound was featured on CBS Mornings two months ago, but had previously been in a WEQX-sponsored concert in Albany in October and been in heavy on-air rotation.

At WEQX, in addition to being on the air, Keller is the production director, which means he has the vital, yet thankless job of producing advertising and other spots for the station. Sometimes that means nudging local business owners to voice their own ads, which helps contribute to the station’s quirky independence. Keller doesn’t mention it, but I think of Indian Ladder Farms (whose commercials, I confess, I actually enjoy. One day I’ll have to go there).


Asked to name up-and-coming bands, night DJ Luke Gelheiser is quick to cite three: Yune (from Denmark: “Cake” just dropped), NewDad (from Ireland), and Bolis Pupul (from Belgium). Constantly scanning and many other sources, Luke stays up to the minute with

bands. “There’s so much cool stuff out there,” says Luke, who has been at EQX since 2016. “I get a lot out of the hunt. I enjoy tracking down something I didn’t know I needed to hear.”

With Keller and Jeff (and occasionally Joy), Luke guides the station’s playlist, selecting songs for heavy, medium and light airplay. Often, Luke’s role in the group’s weekly meeting is to be the cutting edge, arguing for music that the audience might not be immediately like, pushing listeners beyond their comfort zone. “I have much more niche tastes” than other DJs at the station. “The real power in music, especially in this streaming age, is in curation. “Even if you don’t like it, there’s another song coming right up.”

These weekly meetings are crucial. The group strives for just the right balance: pushing listeners to consider music it doesn’t know, challenging them at times, without sending them elsewhere.

Luke comes from a musical theater background. For his turn to radio, he credits Tim Foley, who taught video production at Mount Anthony High School in Bennington until his retirement in 2019. Foley liked Luke’s distinctive voice and suggested using it in his career.

Another quirky high school connection: a former classmate got in touch with him after he began talking up the indigenous metal group Blackbraid. The woman is married to Jon Krieger, the solo artist behind the band.

Are you on the radio?

All DJs have voice recognition stories.

Keller recalls being on the phone trying to get medical coverage for a particular medicine when the operator paused and asked, “are you Keller on the radio?”

“Yes,” he said.

She still would not give him coverage.

Joy was in a bar in Saratoga with her friend and a guy started looking at her and checking his phone, Joy guessed to find WEQX’s website. “And finally on his third Piña Colada — he was drinking frozen Piña Colada coladas with whipped cream — it was one of those days in Saratoga that’s a good time — and he says, ‘Are you Joy from EQX?’ ... and that started a thing down the bar — and then it was like an EQX reunion … I’m part of their party and they’re part of my party …. We’re all part of this EQX thing.”

In this part of Southern Vermont, we are lucky to have anchors to enhance our culture and our lives, for example: Burr and Burton Academy, the Equinox and Taconic Hotels, Northshire Bookstore, Hildene and Dorset Playhouse. To this list, many of us would add WEQX.

Sometimes, we don’t appreciate the importance of something until it is gone. Consider this comment, from a listener of WWCD, CD 92.9 in Columbus, Ohio, the second-to-last independent alternative radio station: “As CD92.9 goes off the air I feel like we're losing the soundtrack to our city.”

Driving rural roads or lounging at home, we may think we have nothing on, but many of us have WEQX on, our soundtrack, invisibly championing our fierce Vermont spirit.~

Luke Gelheiser, host of "Going Underground," is constantly searching for new music to bring to the station.
Jason Keller in the studio where he records commercials and other segments in his role as production director.

The book is (not) always better

10 adaptations that thrived on the big screen

Before its COVID-era transition into a souvenir shop, the once-venerable Harvard Coop Bookstore featured a permanent banner that read “The Book is Always Better,” which hung proudly above a table stacked high with a sampling of novels that were currently being adapted for screens big and small. While this is a very Harvard-type claim to make, and

The Shining (1980): We all know the story by now: Uber auteur Stanley Kubrick turned Stephen King’s bestseller into a queasy piece of high art. Forty-five years and some 100-plus King-related adaptations later, “The Shining” is still considered to be the very best of the lot … by everyone but King himself, who is still punching up at the film to this very day.

Rumble Fish (1983): When an embattled Francis Ford Coppola traveled to Tulsa to shoot S.E. Hinton’s sixth-grade mainstay “The Outsiders”, he decided to stick around long enough to adapt a second Hinton novel (“Rumble Fish”). “The Outsiders” gets all the glory yet “Rumble Fish” is a hypnotic film noir rendered in glorious black and white that is Top Five Coppola.

The Princess Bride (1987): In these highly polarized times, there’s maybe one last thing that almost everyone can agree on: "The Princess Bride" is just a goddamn great film. William Goldman, who was responsible for writing or ghostwriting almost every successful film from the late 20th century, adapts his own novel here. The result is a feel-good salve for a feel bad generation.

The Witches of Eastwick (1987): John Updike may have “won” an actual award for bad sex writing in fiction, but this deliciously entertaining film just oozes playful sexual menace. A

it is certainly true that more than a few novels have had a less than graceful journey to the cinema (looking your way, “Bonfire of the Vanities”), I would argue that quite a few film adaptations are as good as, if not better than, the book.

For this article, we wanted to look at 10 works of fiction that defied the odds, played in movie houses (no streamers allowed!), and became perennial favorites. So put on your PJs and get ready to curl up with a good movie.~

rarely better Jack Nicholson plays a mysterious stranger who travels to a seaside New England town where he becomes entangled with a trio of local beauties. Chaos ensues. Warning: This film may ruin cherries for you permanently.

The Witches (1990): Few would’ve pegged Nicolas Roeg, director of highly sexualized thrillers like “Don’t Look Now,” as the ideal candidate to bring Roald Dahl’s “The Witches” to the big screen. Yet this underrated yarn that’s equal parts whimsical and terrifying is the best Dahl adaptation that isn’t Wes Anderson’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”

The Firm (1993): Look, there’s a reason why John Grisham has sold 300 million copies of his novels: they’re entertaining! Crisply paced thriller “The Firm,” starring a pre-Scientologist meltdown Tom Cruise, was the first Grisham novel to make it to the big screen and it’s still the best.

Jurassic Park (1993): Steven Spielberg was already well ensconced on the Mount Rushmore of Hollywood Legends when he tackled Michael Crichton’s highly regarded dinosaur page-turner. The release of “Jurassic Park" shot him into the stratosphere. Forget all of the sequels and the reboots: The OG version is just as thrilling today as it was in the summer of ’93.

Adaptation (2002): There are few people on the planet who possess a brain like relentlessly inventive writer/director Charlie Kaufman. When Kaufman was tasked with adapting Susan Orlean’s novel “The Orchid Thief,” he instead turned in a gleefully unhinged screenplay about his own inability to adapt said novel.

No Country for Old Men (2007): Punctuation-averse literary titan Cormac McCarthy’s novels, with their deathless run-on sentences and made-up words, are notoriously difficult to transfer to celluloid. For their brutal rendering of McCarthy’s most accessible novel, The Cohen Brothers' opted for strict adherence to the source material. The resulting film was a Best Picture winner in a crowded crop.

Little Women (2019): It seems like almost every generation is treated to some sort of filmed version of Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel “Little Women.” Indie darling-turned-billion dollar blockbuster helmer Greta Gerwig’s 2019 Massachusetts-shot film is possibly the best of the lot. I say “possibly” as the number of “Little Women'' adaptations I have watched that are not this one is currently zero.


Photo provided by Brattleboro Area Realty

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