RONNIE ROMANO PLAYS a keyboard in the “Cathedral Studio” at the bottom of the Elderly Services stairway with a group of seniors watching and enjoying the music via a Zoom connection. Photo courtesy of Ken Schoen
MIDDLEBURY — If there was one silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was that arrived at the beginning of spring, when people of all ages could at least congregate outdoors with appropriate face attire and social distancing. But a Vermont winter is nipping at our collective heels, prompting concerns about how seniors will be able to interact with other people and access diversions when their universe becomes distilled to just a few rooms at home. “It’s not a happy picture,” said Joanne Corbett, executive director at Elderly Services Inc., known as ESI. “We, at ESI, feel like what you’re...

EVEN WHEN OUTDOOR winter temperatures are chilly, it is possible to achieve high enough temperatures in the compost pile to break down food waste into compost. Photo courtesy of Gordon Clark
While you might think that cold temperatures keep a compost pile from composting, that is not the case. In my winter compost pile I regularly achieve temperatures in excess of 130 degrees Fahrenheit even when it’s in the low teens or single digits at night. I simply charge (or fill) it when temperatures go above freezing, which happens increasingly often as spring nears and as our winter climate changes. According to a study from Climate Central, since 1970 Northern New England winters have warmed at an average rate of more than 1 degree Fahrenheit per decade. Burlington has seen the greatest...

During the summer I often spy common garter snakes sunning themselves in my garden. As the snow piles up through winter, covering the landscape in cold white, I wonder where these warmth-seeking creatures have gone. Without fur or fluffed-up feathers for insulation, how do these ectotherms survive the long months between autumn’s fading warmth and spring’s arrival? The short answer is: they seek shelter underground. Often, dozens of snakes will share winter dens. These dens (also called hibernacula) take many forms. “Since our snakes are unable to dig their own holes, they are reliant on what...

PAUL CARLILE, AN American Canoe Association certified instructor, executes a technical roll in his whitewater kayak in a style commonly used by sea kayakers during a Vermont Paddlers Club workout at the Mount Abraham Union High School pool on Feb. 12. Independent photo/Abagael Giles
BRISTOL — On a recent Wednesday night, Paul Carlile of Burlington sat in his blue whitewater kayak in the swimming pool at Mount Abraham Union High School, nose plugs engaged and ready to demonstrate the perfect roll. Designed to help whitewater kayakers navigate the sort of steep, technical stream that runs cold and fast from Vermont’s Green Mountains in the spring, his boat showed the signs of wear and love. A network of scratches ran along its sides, battle scars from past adventures running streams at high water. On that snowy night, Carlile, an American Canoe Association-certified...

A SMALL CRABAPPLE provides a resting place for the chickadee on his way to the nearby bird feeder. Photo by Dick Conrad
GOSHEN — Feb. 2 — Groundhog Day — has come and gone, meaning that we have passed the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. And certainly the days are noticeably longer — a sure sign that spring is on its way. Actually in South Carolina, where my son and daughter-in-law live, spring seems to have arrived already. They love sending me pictures of camellias blooming in their front garden and leafy veggies growing in their community garden plot. Here in Vermont I also have camellias blooming — but these are tucked up inside my heated greenhouse. And, although this...
Several days ago my wife, Deborah, and I went snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on a thick blanket of lovely fresh snow. We weren’t alone. Joining us on the outing was our friend Felicia. Felicia had never been snowshoeing or skiing before. Felicia is in her third and final year living in Vermont thanks to a temporary job in town. Two and a half years in, and she still isn’t a big fan of the cold of Vermont winters. For that, she can be excused. Felicia grew up in Jamaica. The average January temperature in Montego Bay (near the cold northwest corner of the Caribbean island nation) is 74...

MARY LOU RECOR, at Journey's End, the northern terminus of the Long Trail, is the featured speaker at the Green Mountain Club’s Taylor Outdoor Adventure Series lecture in Middlebury on Thursday, Feb. 20, beginning at 7 p.m., at the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society, 2 Duane Court. Photo/Mary Lou Recor
MIDDLEBURY — In celebration of the 28th anniversary of the Green Mountain Club’s Taylor Outdoor Adventure Series, the Bread Loaf Section will host speaker Mary Lou Recor on Thursday evening, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m., at the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society, at 2 Duane Court, in Middlebury. She will share a slide show of her winter end-to-end hike, “Searching for White Blazes: Hiking the Long Trail in Winter.” The Long Trail Guide rightly states that the Long Trail is “not designed for winter use” — white blazes, dense woods, deep snow, remote trails and short days. The following is...
After a fairly lackluster winter, we had our first big snowstorm yesterday. Today, the world beyond my windows is gorgeous. Because the snow was preceded by ice, the tree branches bend low and glitter in the sunlight as if they’re encased in glass. Temperatures have yet to rise above freezing, so the snow still lies heavy on the evergreens. I’m unsure of the total accumulation – I’d estimate somewhere between 8 to 12 inches – but the fields are blanketed white, and the remaining hay bales in our neighbor’s field look like marshmallows tipped on their sides. The sun came out today, in a bright...

AS EVIDENCED BY these tracks, bears are more active than normal this winter due to mild winter conditions and fall foods being available. Photo/John Hall
VERMONT — Many Vermont bears are not getting much rest this winter, according to Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s bear biologist Forrest Hammond, so he is urging people to avoid disturbing them or providing any kind of food for them. Most bears seek their winter dens when it becomes difficult for them to find food and not due to winter cold. During years of natural food shortage, some bears give up trying to find food and enter their winter dens as early as October. This enables them to conserve the energy and fat reserves they have, rather than staying out and expending more energy looking for...
This coming June, the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) is hosting their annual conference at Jay Peak up in northern Vermont. It’s a great gathering of outdoor communicators: writers, photographers, filmmakers, editors and publishers, and others affiliated with the industry including reps of various manufacturers. I’ve been to this conference twice in the past four years: when it was held in Montana in 2016 and then again in Arkansas in 2019. As enjoyable as those locations were, and as much as they had to offer in outdoor recreation, I’m even more excited to have the conference...


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Addison County Independent

58 Maple Street
Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: 802.388.4944
Fax: 802.388.3100