Arts & Leisure

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux) In his new book, subtitled “A Quest to Find and Save the World's Largest Owl,” ornithologist, field scientist, conservationist and author Jonathan Slaght will take you on a journey to the remote forests of eastern Russia to find, track and ultimately protect the enormous (six-foot wingspan, two-feet in height) and elusive Blakiston’s fish owl. Follow along as Slaught and his team bushwhack, climb trees to find nests and scout for tracks in the snow on river banks. The owls depend on very large trees to nest, and their habitat is often prime logging territory, so it...

Tahlia and her friend Westley were on a walk through the Marble Works property on Thursday when they found this whimsical bridge to play on. It was one of four bridges built on dry land in Middlebury that will be auctioned as a fundraiser for Town Hall Theater. A fifth bridge is also in the works. Independent photo/John S. McCright
Wandering around the Marble Works District, or other spots in downtown Middlebury, you may have noticed five whimsical bridges that are open for exploration. Go ahead and walk across. Put down your things and play awhile; crack a smile, have some fun. The bridges are part of an outdoor architecture exhibit, dubbed “Bridge 20/20,” put on by Town Hall Theater (THT) as a fundraising event with a timely theme. “This project came together as a public art project that is inspired by Town Hall Theater’s tradition of public engagement and art auctions, such as our big chairs and painted pianos,”...

AT THE TIME of the Smith's Grand Tour, transport by ship was the only way to cross the Atlantic.
The grand tour became popular among prosperous Americans in the late 19th century as they sought to experience and appropriate European high culture. Among those making an extended European visit were the Columbus Smith family of Salisbury. The archives of the Henry Sheldon Museum preserve a range of materials — letters, a diary, tickets, programs, brochures, menus, bills of sale — giving a window into the Smiths’ grand tour experience. Columbus Smith amassed a fortune practicing international probate law, claiming European estates for American descendants. In the 1870s he built a stone...
As a young man, Jay Parini decided to make a profession of writing. His decision to “live deliberately” as Thoreau put it, started with graduate studies at St. Andrews in Scotland, which also effectively kept him out of Vietnam. Once in Scotland, Alastair Reid, a writer and professor who takes Parini under his garrulous wing, requests he look after Reid’s impetuous houseguest, Jorge Luis Borges, the inimitable Argentinian writer, for a week. And Borges wants to see the Scottish highlands, except, in addition to being deliberately obscure, he is also quite elderly and blind. It’s a decidedly...

Otter Valley’s Walking Stick Theatre performed its original production of “Inevitable” at the 2016 New England Drama Festival, winning their class. The group made its first trip to the Fringe Festival in 2015.
Otter Valley Union High School’s Walking Stick Theatre group is planning to make a return appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. And thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, they have plenty of time for fundraising. OV Theater director Jeff Hull said the group would pursue plans to attend the 2021 Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, next August. Walking Stick Theatre was first invited in 2015 and is keen to return. Since then, the group has performed at the New England Drama Festival four times, winning their class in 2016 with their original production of “Inevitable.” Hull said there...

CALEB KENNA STANDS in his Middlebury home with a photo he made of three blooming crab apple trees in a Shoreham orchard. He captured the image using a drone equipped with a camera, which he uses daily to observe and meditate on the Vermont landscape. Independent photo/Alexa Lapiner
MIDDLEBURY — Caleb Kenna has been a professional photographer for 25 years, and like most good photo artists he makes many great images of events, landscapes and people. His work has long been praised for its quality and insights. But he has taken his craft to a new level…literally. Kenna has taken to the skies with a drone-mounted camera, with which he makes some stunning shots of Addison County. In “Behold Vermont, from Above,” a feature article published in the New York Times last month, Kenna writes that he had taken photos from airplanes, but using a drone opened up new creative...
(Flatiron Books) When we first encounter Franny Stone — strong, gutsy, passionate Franny — she is in Greenland, alone, geo-tagging what very well may be the last Arctic terns in existence. She then manages to convince a fishing boat captain by the name of Ennis Malone to allow her on board his ship, the Saghani, as it sails south, so she can follow the terns’ migratory route, through the North Atlantic sea, down into the glacial waters of the Antarctic. Fishing in this near-future world is a maligned endeavor; fishermen face a catastrophically depleted fishery as well as an increasingly...

RENOVATING YOUR STRAWBERRY patch now will ensure a good yield of bright red berries next year. Photo by Bonnie Kirn Donahue
Now that the June-bearing strawberry season has passed, there are things that we can do now to get ready for next year’s crop. If your strawberry patch is two years old or more, after harvesting the last of your strawberries, it’s time to renovate the bed. This means cutting back the foliage to three inches and removing the leaf debris. This may seem counter-intuitive, but strawberries have a long list of diseases and pests to contend with and doing this will help keep those at bay. Don’t worry, the plants will start to grow new leaves before the fall. Strawberries are aggressive spreaders....
The pandemic has changed the lives of many individuals and the ways we spend our leisure time. Some people like to run, bike or swim for the sheer joy (or pain) of exertion, while others wish to accomplish something more than filling out their running log, and so take part in athletic fundraisers. But gathering people together in one place for a fundraising run is out of the question right now due to coronavirus. So at least one nonprofit is hoping to gather runners and joggers in spirit, if not in person. The Hops for Hope 5K is the annual FUNdraiser for the American Cancer Society; it...
August is traditionally vacation month, but many of us will not be traveling this year. The following article explores how Vermonters of the 19th and early 20th centuries traveled to places far and near and is based on the archival collections found in the Sheldon Museum’s Stewart-Swift Research Center. ———— "Are your vacation plans complete?” asks the “1929 Guide to Select Hotels and Motor Routes, The Adirondacks, New England and Quebec.” These days, probably not, since few of us will be going anywhere. Fortunately, there are vicarious opportunities “for sight-seeing seldom enjoyed” aplenty...


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