August 13th, 2009
BRIDPORT — Beds of color dot the yard around the Howlett farmhouse. Across the road farm vehicles sit dormant below two large silos and a carved “Howlett” sign on the barn. The dairy farm is retired now, but the garden belies an ongoing dedication to the land: it is sprawling and colorful, brimming with fruits, vegetables and flowers.
“My father bought this farm when I was in high school,” said Esther Howlett. “We’ve been farming it since 1945.”
SHOREHAM — Martha Lapham of Shoreham is modest about her gardens — several plots of brimming flowerbeds, a vegetable garden and various climbing and potted plants. But as unassuming as the longtime gardener may be, the lively blooms on her Shoreham property speak for themselves.
ADDISON — “Seven years ago this was just forest,” said Carol Miller, pointing out toward Lake Champlain.
Now a spacious lawn slopes down to the water, interrupted by scattered shade trees and Adirondack chairs. An artfully weathered wooden house with blue trim perches on a rise, with panoramic views stretching up Lake Champlain. Garden beds surround the house and punctuate the lawn, bordering stone paths and cradling the pool. Most are behind the house, where they are sheltered from the wind.
ADDISON — Nestled behind a distinguished brick house is Alice van Tuyl’s garden, where flowers gather around a rock-lined pond and grape vines creep over a wooden arbor.
“I’ve always been interested in flowers — always had some around,” said Van Tuyl.
Her love of flowers began when she was a young girl visiting her grandmother in Rhinebeck, N.Y. She was from New York City, but she would spend her summers in her grandmother’s garden on the Hudson River.
“She was an avid gardener, so that sort of began it all,” said Van Tuyl.
I’m going to visit my brother Ted in Alaska. We’re planning to go fishing. I expect we’ll have an “adventure.” My trips with Ted seem to produce more adventure than we want.
There was the time he got me lost “guiding” me on a trip to a remote trout stream on a huge Maine lake that stretches for miles and has no houses. And the time he got me onto a glacier in the Rockies above the timberline and conjured up a hailstorm. These adventures with Ted sometimes leave me questioning his sanity. That I continue to go with him also leaves me questioning my own.
NEW HAVEN — The tent was loud and crowded as Willem Berry and Ivor Anderson marched up to the stage for the first face-off in last Friday’s armwrestling tournament at Addison County Fair and Field Days. The match was over quickly — Berry quickly threw Anderson’s hand to the table — but it was only the first of many rounds to follow as more than 200 people vied for the coveted title of champion.
MIDDLEBURY — Nestled among his cows in Cornwall, a dairy farmer holds up a large-scale image of Switzerland crafted from pink insulation material.
Down the road, a husband-and-wife pair running a Cornwall farm stand posed with the outline of the United States. A Middlebury shopkeeper hides behind the long, boot-like silhouette of Italy, and a Burlington woman hunkers down beside the image of Africa, posted on the wall of her house.
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“The old Pennsylvania Dutch, they waste nothing,” said Don Rinker.
He and his wife Eileen grew up in northern Pennsylvania gardening, preserving and freezing all summer to prepare for the winters. They retired to New Haven in 2000, bringing with them the frugal traditions they had always practiced.
Don showed me the dryer that he and his wife Eileen use to preserve the wax beans they grow: It is a broad metal pan with a walled off corner for water.