and photos by
last count, some 26,394 UVM alumni call Vermont home.
is bemused by her posture. I never do this, she says. Innkeepers
dont sit out here.
innkeepers do do is work seven days a week during the season, keeping
books, scheduling staff, maintaining a well-used lodge wracked by brutal
winters, and, most of all, making people feel welcome. Smith has a well-honed
knack for this, quickly singling out stressed guests requiring special
care. I love turnarounds, she says. Its a challenge.
has no cell service, televisions, nightlife, or shopping. Wireless Internet
started recently, but Smith is ready to pull the plug at any time if laptops
become prevalent. A simple life this isnt, however. The tourism
season is short, the tasks many, the financial cushion thin. But Smith,
who runs the lodge with her husband, David, whose family has owned the
lodge since 1954, is deeply attached to the Highland and the area. Since
leaving her job teaching science at Burlington High School (her UVM degree
is in teaching biology) she has become a civic fixture in Greensboro,
presiding over the local historical society and crusading for zoning regulations
to limit McMansions.
The place is special, she says, it gets to you. We decided that we would try it out for a while and see if we liked it, she continues, explaining how she and her husband first agreed to run the lodge temporarily as a favor to his parents. That was 26 years ago. KF
as MacHarg warms up on the Highland bagpipes in his home teaching studio,
another reason why country life suits him quickly becomes evident. The
potent volume seems a natural force, a near palpable thing. In Burlington,
MacHarg says, the upstairs neighbors were never too keen on blasting
the pipes in the afternoon.
neighbors may have had their moments, but plenty were happy to hear MacHargs
pipes during his student years in Burlington. Together with a circle of
UVM friends, he formed Whiskey Before Breakfast, a popular band in the
kilt-rock genre. People ate it up, MacHarg says. Hes
continued to explore the particular glory of bagpipe and electric guitar
through Prydein, his band with fellow WBB original Aron Garceau 96.
much of MacHargs focus has been on growing his Vermont Institute
of Piping, which is now some 90 students strong, many of whom perform
with the Catamount Pipe Band, one of the top groups of its kind in the
eastern United States.
MacHarg himself comes from a long line of pipers, including his father, Michael, a well-known maker of hand-crafted bagpipes. As he helps to spread the music of bagpipes across Vermont, being a piper is an inevitable part of Iain MacHargs own life. I think its all wrapped up in how I grew up with the music, he says. I love the harmonics. Its a rich, warm, wonderful sound. TW
not trying to save the environment, but if I keep the bills down to a
minimum I can send that money to Laos, Semler says. Long a familiar
face on the Vermont folk-rock scene, Semler spends a month in Laos annually,
working with high school students suffering from blindness, polio, or
amputation from land mine accidents. He also directs the Music Laos Project
(musiclaos.org), a music therapy and education program at the Vientiane
interest in Laos traces to when Semler met Hisayo Morikawa, assistant
manager at the Vientiane rehab center, when he played a gig in Maine.
She asked me to come play in Laos, some people there had never heard
western-style guitar before, Semler recalls. I sent her a
check to try to get out of it. She sent him back a picture of the
kids holding their first books bought with Semlers check and another
request for him to visit.
I realized I had to take a risk. The Iraq war had just started, my partner had recovered from the loss of her arm, and this was a chance to go to a national rehab center and work with amputees, Semler says. The musicians commitment to Laos has deepened since making that first leap, driving him to keep it simple over here to make a difference on the other side of the world. EWH
Mountain Windows had classic, humble Vermont business beginnings
three guys making windows in an old barn in the woods of Whiting. But
it has grown swiftly from three employees to 30, from that incubator
barn to 40,000-square-feet in a Rutland industrial park. And business
is good, with sales up 50% last year and plans on the table to double
sales within the next three years. Keeffe and company have built on a
core product of highest-quality, custom wood-frame windows constructed
to fit both the climate and architectural aesthetic of New England.
he walks the factory floor on an August morning, Keeffe consider how his
role has changed from the early do or die days when he could
work any piece of machinery, design in AutoCad, or drive the truck. Sales
forecasts, marketing strategies, human resources, and keeping a foot in
the day-to-day takes Keeffe many directions as president. No two
days are alike, he says.
Keeffe pats a stack of completed windows and mentions, with more than a trace of nostalgia, the rewards of such tangible evidence of a days work. He smiles and says, You have to learn to deal with delayed gratification. TW
73 is an accomplished and versatile printmaker, but is especially
well known to a certain age group as a childrens book author and
illustrator. The Daring Nelly Bly; Woody Guthrie: Poet of the People;
and Moon over Tennessee: A Boys Civil War Journal, have all brought
history alive for many schoolchildren.
on in her career, while working at the Shelburne Museum letterpress shop,
she was inspired to make a book for her daughter, Emily. Everyone
wants to make a baby book, Christensen says. Maybe, but not everyone
creates one with original poetry, wood engravings, and hand-set type.
The exquisite result didnt get published but did capture the attention
of an editor who hired Christensen to illustrate Breaking Into Print,
a history of the printing press.
show how she approaches a new book, the author/illustrator spreads a sketched-out
manuscript on the floor of her studio/bedroom. I like to think in
terms of film, try to set up suspense from one page to the next,
And then the door opened
have to turn the page.
With one written manuscript recently rejected, another ready for illustrating, and a trip to Italy in the planning, Christensen considers the next turn of the page in her own life and career. Further study and work in Venice, a place of past education and inspiration, seems the most likely course. I feel like the right thing for me to do is go and just make art, she says. EWH
& AIR GUARD
and his wife, Helen (Cassidy) Murdock 81 bought the Chapin Orchard
in Essex Junction when they returned to the state five years ago, diving
headlong into a challenging mix. Right now theres not enough
time in the day. Ive got three teenage kids, more than a full-time
job, and an apple orchard, Murdock says. I call it controlled
chaos. But I can see myself retiring in five years and running the
orchard. Once you see the place you fall in love with it.
the apples will have to wait. Murdocks unit, which includes many
UVM alumni among the 300 full-time and 700 part-time guard members, is
home of the Green Mountain Boys, scheduled to receive the 2005 Winston
P. Smith Award as the nations most outstanding fighter unit.
I like leading and motivating people in stressful situations and making sure they have what they need, says Murdock. Thats what it was really all about in Iraq. You really felt like you were helping people out. The career track from here usually leads to joining the fray in D.C. But whod want to leave Vermont? Ive been all over the world and when I look at the quality of life here its hard to beat. JR
tough work, because Rose is a good talker. As the path ascends from the
Winooski River, the Green Mountain Clubs executive director covers
everything from the Long Trails nearly 100-year history to the contemporary
socioeconomics of family camping, from the fragility of the little
scrapings of Labrador left by the glaciers on a few Vermont peaks
to the proper way to blaze the Long Trail (white paint, 2 by 6
says that his role with the Green Mountain Club requires a generalist,
versed in all of the above and then some. His people and political skills,
which he furthered with two-terms representing Williston in the Vermont
House of Representatives, are often in demand. I think of my job
as being essentially conservative to maintain an existing thing,
he says. But the greatest management challenge can be to stay still.
made his own end-to-end hike of the Long Trail an adventure he
calls a greatest hits version of an Appalachian Trail through
hike the summer after his 1982 graduation from Yale. It was
a wonderful thing to do at that moment in my life, he recalls.
Twenty-three years later and Rose is still on that path, albeit in a very different capacity than solo sojourner. As a young backpacker in a Red Sox hat descends the trail toward him, Rose is quick to stop, talk, offer some advice. Hows the Long Trail treating you? he asks. Okay? TW
is the curator at Manchesters Hildene, the stately Georgian Revival
manse that was home to Robert Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincolns oldest
son. A recent exhibit at the museum curated by Knight proves that sometimes
low tech a soldiers sock or a hunk of hardtack is
the best way to make history come alive.
exhibit and the book it inspired, No Braver Deeds, tell the story of Vermonts
Equinox Guard, a unit of soldiers from Bennington County that was decimated
at the Civil Wars Battle of Savage Station.
in Vermont we dont have any tangible connection to the Civil War.
You go to Virginia and you can see and feel the battlefields, Knight
says. Here its hard to get that connection, especially from
a kids point of view. He made that connection by gathering
a treasure trove of artifacts, journals, and letters from families who
could trace their ancestors directly back to the war.
exhibit gives life to individual soldiers. Now kids can come to Hildene
and get assigned a soldiers name, learn to drill and fill a musket,
get a sewing kit and holey socks, even eat hardtack. The kids are
very eager to eat it. I wont touch it. Its just a big overgrown
saltine with not a bit of salt in it, Knight advises.
While reading the letters to provide documentation for the exhibit, Knight realized he was onto something. I read these and a light bulb went off in my head that this wasnt about Hildene any longer, that Vermont needed these stories. EWH
you know it. Were all natural, you can taste it, says Taylor
Meyer 97, who co-manages the place with his brother Nick 99,
with part-time help from another brother, Andrew 92, an entrepreneur
with an office in what the guys jokingly call the city: Hardwick.
trio grew up on the farm, taking over operations when their dad, Steve
G71, was ready to scale back. The brothers went organic in 2003,
ditching the old back-breaking tie-barn for a spacious new barn and parlor.
The investment allowed them to almost triple their herd with about the
same labor, and the organic certification has yielded premium prices from
the Organic Valley co-op. Recognition has flowed in as well: Vermont dairy
farm of the year in 2004, a co-op top quality award and more. It
was what they call a good year, Nick says.
The brotherly styles differ Taylor is jokey, Nick intense, Andrew smooth but all are deadly serious about keeping the land they grew up on working and in the family. Even as many farm families are leaving the business, the Meyer boys are hatching big plans to build their operation to a place where it can support as many family members as want to work it. Its so much better than an office, Andrew says of the lifestyle. Our cubicle is 400 acres, with ponds and lakes and big equipment and cows, fresh air, gardens, and family. KF
been through a lot sometimes things you would not imagine in your
wildest dreams and humor can be a good way to reach them,
ability to reach at-risk youth in a meaningful way has made significant
differences in the lives of many young Vermonters in the county in which
she grew up. It also earned her the 2005 National Social Worker of the
Year Award given by the National Foster Parent Association. That came
after county and state social worker of the year awards.
most meaningful part of the award for Grimm, were nomination letters submitted
by parents of children shed worked with, counselors, and adolescents.
One teenage girl wrote about the time Grimm took her to her first dentist
appointment and how important Grimm was to her during a difficult time
in her life. Grimm, whom the teenager called strict but funny, has developed
similar bonds with students whom shes taken to the movies, out for
pizza, or on bike rides.
She also spends time at hospitals and other places where serious crisis intervention is required. Its definitely not all fun and games, Grimm says. There are some very difficult times. JR