Tom Slayton

Commentator

Tom Slayton is a longtime journalist, editor and author who lives in Montpelier.

The Vermont Movie is a sprawling, epic, quirky, and ultimately fascinating journey through more than 250 years of Green Mountain history. It has just completed premier showings throughout the state.

Now that the leaves have fallen and the trees are bare, we can see the contours of the physical landscape more clearly. And if we look carefully enough, we can see the cultural contours of the land as well.

That’s because the Vermont landscape, which we think of as a work of nature, is also the work of human beings. In fact, the Vermont countryside is deeply layered with history. No matter where you look, it has stories to tell.

Slayton: Hub Vogelman

Oct 21, 2013

Hubert “Hub” Vogelmann, who died recently, was one of Vermont’s true environmental pioneers.

Hub was a scientist, a botanist to be specific, and was head of the University of Vermont’s Botany Department for many years.

He was also a really nice man, a scholar who never seemed scholarly, with a winning smile that could disarm any opponent, a gentle sense of humor, and a wealth of factual scientific information that he used skillfully to protect Vermont’s environment.

In the faces of Vermonters themselves, photographer Peter Miller has chronicled the profound changes that have come to Vermont in the last half-century. Those faces – and those changes – are the subject of his most recent book of photographs and essays, entitled A Lifetime of Vermont People.

This is no ordinary coffee-table book. Miller’s black-and-white photographs are gritty, often stark. They go beyond simple prettiness to probe the souls of the people who have lived through Vermont’s changes, and, in the process, the soul of Vermont itself.

Recently, I had the opportunity to catch a performance of the current play about the poet Robert Frost, Entitled, “This Verse Business” it’s a one-man portrayal of the poet that is now touring Vermont. It ran for two weeks at Lost Nation Theatre in Montpelier and is scheduled at Dorset, St. Johnsbury, Burlington, and Marlboro.

For State Archaeologist Giovanna Peebles, archaeology is everywhere. It’s contemporary as well as ancient, and can be appreciated wherever you are.

Slayton: Sue Morse

Aug 16, 2013

It’s hard to describe wildlife expert Susan Morse in a few words, because she’s done so much. She is, in fact, a nationally recognized expert on a wide variety of wildlife, ranging from moose and bear in Vermont to mountain lions in the far west.

The recent relief from near-constant rains has given many farmers a chance to get out on their fields, and from Montpelier to Middlebury, you can see hay down, curing under that unfamiliar visitor – the sun.

Slayton: Wyeth Vertigo

Jul 16, 2013

Death and disorientation haunt the paintings of three generations of Wyeths in “Wyeth Vertigo,” the new and important exhibition at the Shelburne Museum.

Slayton: The Old Ways

Jul 1, 2013

In the final sequence of the wonderful Kurosawa film, “Dreams,” after a dark vision of environmental hell, a man wanders into a beautiful, shaded garden with a small, clear stream running through it.

He is bewildered; he has witnessed the horrors of a ruined world. How can this beautiful, tranquil place exist, he asks a man he encounters.

Slayton: End of Spring

May 24, 2013

Memorial Day, a day set aside for remembering those who have died in the service of their country is also, more prosaically, the unofficial beginning of Vermont’s shortest season: summer. And the thought that summer is unofficially underway is exciting.

The newly published Second Atlas of Breeding Birds of Vermont is a large, beautiful, and important book that documents the 202 species of birds that nest in our state.

It is also a monument to citizen-science – the kind of science you and I do, perhaps without knowing it, when we go out into the countryside and record what we see there.

Hunger Mountain, a 3,500-foot peak in the Worcester Range, is the neighborhood mountain of central Vermont – a challenging climb for hikers, a forested retreat for nature lovers, a home for uncountable numbers of birds, insects and animals.

And recently, for translator and writer David Hinton of Calais, the mountain has been the setting for his explorations of Chinese poetry and philosophy.

If you think of buildings as having personalities, the University of Vermont's Billings Library would be quiet, gnomic, reserved and slightly mysterious. Its ornate brownstone form hunkers down modestly between other more extroverted brick buildings on UVM's College Row, facing west, across the long UVM green.

http://www.vpr.net//audio/programs/56/2013/03/Slayton-0322 North Country Life.mp3

Photo: Herb Swanson

Every year we invite commentators to write on the same theme and share their essays at a brunch, which we record to feature a sampler of the event later on the air. This year's topic was When Worlds Collide and it got commentator Tom Slayton thinking about politics and change in Vermont.

(Slayton)  Hello. I'm Tom Slayton and my piece is entitled, When Political Worlds Collide.

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