Martha Molnar

Commentator

Martha L. Molnar is a public relations and freelance writer who moved to Vermont in 2008. She was formerly a New York Times reporter.

The name doesn’t fit. Dead Creek’s miles of shallow waterway, wetlands and woods are teeming with life: swimming, flying, crawling life. And with the recent opening of its new visitor center, it’s likely to host many more mammals of the human species.

The automated teller machine or ATM turns fifty this year. And while I use it less these days, since I now pay for most things with credit, its anniversary reminds me of how a series of miscalculations and poor planning once stranded me in midtown Manhattan with less than a dollar in my bag.

Like July, our resident bobolink population has come and gone. The meadow has grown almost silent without the birds Emily Dickinson called “the rowdy of the meadow.”

Before we moved to Vermont, we lived in a wooded area north of New York City. Behind our tiny plot, some hundred acres of undeveloped land stretched away. We made it ours by walking in it, eating its berries and building tepee houses with fallen branches.

The tiny town of Poultney is putting on an ambitious annual Earth Day fair on April twelfth, featuring more than sixty exhibitors, a parade, free wood-fired pizza, musicians, entertainers, and a student science exhibit. The fair is sponsored by dozens of farm and environmental organizations, business groups, and schools, making it an event that involves the entire community and attracts people of every age and walk of life.

Molnar: Snow

Feb 17, 2017

Finally, there’s snow!

When we travel to other states and mention that we live in Vermont, people immediately identify us with Bernie Sanders.

“Ah, you’re from Bernie Country,” somebody responded recently, speaking for most strangers we meet.

Molnar: Penny Wise?

Apr 7, 2016

Many people don’t know that until recently Vermont residents over age 65 could attend up to two courses at any of our state colleges and universities free of charge although with no credit. Surprisingly, very few are taking advantage of this currently – a mere 78 people around the state – probably because few know about it.

Molnar: Power Sharing

Mar 30, 2016

The annual March Rutland business show was sold out of all vendor spaces three weeks before it took place – the earliest in its 23-year history – even as more spaces have been added every year to accommodate the growing numbers of people.

This is a story about two ducks and three people. In the interest of full disclosure, I confess that I’m one of the people.

Molnar: The Long Read

Feb 12, 2016

I’ve been reading fiction set in the first Century, a time when few could read and even fewer had access to the prized scrolls of the time – which, while filled with the writings of the ancient world’s most brilliant philosophers and mathematicians, would probably have been poor entertainment for a long Vermont winter.

Art can help us see the familiar with new eyes, leading us to appreciate the old through a new perspective.

As dusk comes earlier and dawn later, the lights of the town and college in the valley fill our kitchen window after the first cup of morning coffee and before I start on dinner.

I enjoy riding trains so much I even look forward to substandard dining while staring out the big windows, because the trip along the widening Hudson is as beautiful - and as slow - as the river itself.

“Sorry I didn’t call back,” I was telling a Manhattan friend. “I spent the whole day at the Fermentation Festival at Green Mountain College.”

The hummingbirds are leaving soon. I can tell from the way they fight over the feeder, as fiercely as when they first arrived, famished from their two-thousand-mile journey north. No sharing or taking turns for these birds, ever. Now, eager to bulk up before returning south, they dive bomb and try to bodyslam intruders in midair, the violence mounting as September advances.

We’ve all heard that the Inuit have more than fifty words for snow. The Sami in northern Scandinavia are said to have a thousand words for reindeer. In Greek and Russian there are two or three words for blue corresponding to different shades, which are perceived as separate.

But in English we have a woefully inadequate vocabulary for green.

Bill McKibben, Vermont’s leading climate change activist, was speaking at Green Mountain College. “We have won the argument,” he was saying. “Now we have to win the war.“

Last year, remembering the previous very long winter, my husband and I decided to finally take a long anticipated trip to Europe. Winter there would be milder, and in any case, there would be plenty to see indoors.

Molnar: Twice Warmed

Jan 20, 2015

They say heating with wood warms you three times: while cutting, then stacking, and finally burning the logs. So we thought we’d save on labor – and the environmental impact of burning wood – by installing solar panels. But while these may function without human labor in California, in snowy Vermont, they warm us at least twice.

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