Everyone has holiday food traditions that can be traced to individuals or to family ethnicity or nationality, and sometimes to a wider community. Every Christmas I can remember I’ve eaten pasta frolla, which is a dessert associated with Barre, and which I love in the way that Pee-wee Herman loved fruit salad, which is to say that I’d marry it if I could.
As an undergraduate during the 1990s, I majored in historic preservation at a small college in suburban Baltimore. I was drawn to Baltimore city, to neighborhoods with blocks of rundown row houses, some of them boarded up and abandoned.
Every year the Vermont press run the Town Meeting Day stories: reports in which community tradition and the democratic process are juxtaposed against the obligations of modern life and the efficiency of Australian ballot. The tone is one of loss - Town Meeting Day in danger of dying off, Vermont fighting to hold on: It’s all highly self-reflective and anxious.
I noticed not long after moving to Morrisville that the town has a thing for the colors green and yellow. The school colors of People’s Academy - or PA, as it’s better known - are green and gold, though the gold is really more like yellow. And for as long as anyone can remember the Morrisville Water & Light department has sported a green and yellow logo on its trucks and equipment. Same for its offices and the signs outside the town clerk and the sporting goods store.
I don’t usually like reality TV, but I’m intrigued by the way a new reality show on the History Channel portrays regional culture. It follows a group of northern New England men who live to buy, sell, swap or trade - and the name of the show is Down East Dickering.
I recently read Book of Ages, Jill Lepore’s new book on Jane Franklin and her relationship with her famous brother Benjamin Franklin. The book is about a lot of things, but mostly is about a strong brother-sister sibling bond. Jane Franklin struggled in ways her brother did not, but their surviving letters document an attachment that was mutual.
Recently, a photo made the rounds on Facebook of a new so-called face spotted in a Smugglers’ Notch rock outcropping. Vermonter Ben Koch took the photograph in late August at an elevation close to the outcropping, and it certainly does resemble the side profile of a human face, so of course, it immediately drew comparisons to the late but much beloved Old Man of the Mountains in New Hampshire.
We have lots of spring birthdays in my family. At one backyard birthday BBQ last weekend, the discussion turned to the rhubarb patch. We were eating rhubarb cake, but we were talking about rhubarb pie, and then about summer and about berry pies of all kinds.