Deborah Luskin

Commentator

Commentator Deborah Lee Luskin is a novelist, essayist, and educator.

Given the debate about acceptance and tolerance, religious and otherwise, I’ve been reminded of how the Nazis required Jews to wear yellow stars on their clothing as emblems of their identity. And I’ve briefly imagined wearing a yellow star of my own, made with the Islamic image of a star and crescent moon embroidered in the center instead of Juden, the German word for Jew.

I love the live transmissions from the Metropolitan Opera. Usually, it’s the music and spectacle that carries the story, which – face it – can be pretty far fetched. But recently, these operatic stories are reminding me of current U.S. politics.

I have a lot of diplomas, dating from nursery school right through to a PhD. But none of them has as much meaning as the one I earned this summer that’s just arrived in the mail from the Green Mountain Club, certifying my end-to-end through hike of The Long Trail.

For the second time in as many years, Newfane voters are being asked to reconsider a bond vote that failed - about whether or not to build a new town office.

Luskin: Lawn Signs

Oct 11, 2016

I’ve never been one to put out lawn signs for political candidates, partly because declaring who you’re voting for tends to end any meaningful discussion before it even begins. Once people make up their minds, they generally don’t want to be confused by facts, let alone someone else’s opinions. So while I’m willing to engage in civil discussion about the concerns that are pushing me toward one candidate or another, I’ve never put out a lawn sign for my neighbors to see.

Luskin: Shade

Aug 5, 2016

“What do you mean, the party’s outside?” my cousin blurts into the phone. “Outside with no air-conditioning?”

When Phil Hoff was elected Vermont governor in 1962, it was commonly said that a Democrat didn’t win; the Republican lost. Two years later, something similar happened when Barry Goldwater was the controversial and unpopular Republican presidential nominee.

Luskin: Roof Envy

Jul 5, 2016

Earlier this year, my next-door neighbor installed solar panels on the south-facing roof of his barn, and my husband turned green with envy – roof envy.

The other day I ran in to my state representative at the grocery store, where we chatted about our kids’ whereabouts as we loaded our carts for the weekend. I’d already hugged one of my state senators when we bumped into each other outside the farm store, where we stopped to talked gardens. “It must be a relief to be home,” I said. She agreed, then said she was on her way to deliver her petition to be on the ballot again in the fall.

In May 2015, my friend Jan visited me on her way back to Alaska. We’ve maintained a strong bond for almost forty years even though we don’t often write and never call. But when we do get together, we pick up where we left off.

When we still hadn’t had significant snow by the end of January, I started hoping for a Valentine’s Day snowstorm like the one that redeemed the winter of 2007. That was the first snowfall that season and rescued people like me who love winter from the despair of a barren season.

I was enjoying an article by political historian Michael Kazin in a recent issue of The New York Times Magazine about the term “populist” in American political history - a term that this election cycle has been applied to both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Luskin: Act 46

Mar 24, 2016

While Act 46 aims to meet the challenges of declining school population, it has also increased educators’ concerns for job security, parents’ concern for educational continuity, and tax-payers’ hope for relief. The children whose education is at stake have neither voice nor vote in a decision that will affect them most.

As Moderator of Newfane’s Town Meeting, I’ve learned it’s impossible to predict what will become a bone of contention on which the body politic will gnaw. Some years, there’s been heated debate about how much to pay elected officials; others, it’s been about whether or not we really need a new truck. This year, voters worked through the first dozen articles with little discussion and less dissent.

More than half the world’s population already lives in urban areas, which may help explain why we humans are spending so much time sitting indoors.

As saddened as I was by the terrorist bombing in Sultanahmet Square in Turkey last week, I also felt enormous relief. The bombing took place on a Tuesday; two of my children had been in Istanbul the Friday before.

A kindergarten teacher once taught me a game that I play all the time in my adult life. It’s called The Good Thing, and it’s a way to make the best of a bad situation. For instance, one good thing about forgetting your school lunch might be tasting a tidbit from each classmate’s meal.

When I was eighteen, so was the drinking age. My friends and I drank our parents’ booze in each others’ homes. One icy December night I was on my way home from such a gathering. At best, steering my mom’s station wagon was like navigating a boat. That night, I swerved to a stop after running a red light. I was lucky: the intersection was empty. I was shaken. And I was drunk.

Like most Vermonters, I spend a fair amount of time driving though Vermont’s beautiful and largely forested landscape. As a result, I tend to think of the woods as scenery, not as a natural resource. But I live in a wooden house, work at a pine desk, dine at a table of oak and sleep in a cherry bed, and I heat my home with wood. It’s one of life’s ironies that I had to go to a museum to understand where all this wood in my daily life comes from, how it’s harvested, and by whom.

For the past thirty-one years I’ve stayed out of the woods in November. Every rifle season during deer hunting, I’ve donned blaze orange to walk the dog on a leash. If all goes well, this will be my last November on the back roads. If all goes well, next year, I’ll be in the woods, hunting.

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