Willem Lange


Willem Lange is a retired remodeling contractor, writer and storyteller who lives in East Montpelier, Vermont.

Willem Lange

'Way up in northern New Hampshire, almost at the 45th parallel, is a tiny glacial pond slowly filling in with water lilies. It’s a place I go to when I want absolute peace and quiet.

Lange: Quiniktikut

Aug 6, 2018
Rick Shreve of Orford, NH

Thanks to Daniel Webster, the border of the United States in New Hampshire is a few rods north of a tiny abandoned beaver dam that's the source of the Connecticut River.

There’s a lovely old Welsh tune, "The Ash-Grove" that elementary school music teachers and scout leaders often choose for their kids to sing. In it, lost love is recalled under the graceful boughs of the lovely and practical Ash tree.

I once bought ten acres of woods in New Hampshire because they looked so much like my Adirondacks. The county forester walked them with me and showed me how I could harvest them sustainably for firewood. But save these, he said, tapping a white ash. These are your most valuable trees.

In the winter of 1958 I was tending bar in Keene Valley, New York, in exchange for my supper and stocking the beer coolers for breakfast, when I heard the Olympic bobsled run near Lake Placid was looking for help.

Lange: Keeping Warm

Jan 2, 2018

The wind that blew away the last snowstorm died during the afternoon. And as the sun sank into the hemlocks, the dog and I walked through the woods in the deepening cold.

Lange: Vets

Nov 7, 2017

On the day World War II ended, our family was in Niagara Falls; and that evening the colored floodlights played on the falls for the first time in four years.

Lange: Trail Magic

Sep 29, 2017

The Appalachian Trail enters Vermont coincident with the Long Trail and follows it for one hundred miles. It peels off near Killington and heads east to Norwich.

Not many realized how inauspicious the timing of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor had been. It was a classic example of military leaders still fighting old wars. The harbor was full of battleships securely moored. But this war would rely heavily on aircraft carriers, and on December 7th our carrier fleet was at sea. The attack did less to wound than make us really angry. Admiral Yamamoto, commander of the Japanese fleet, said, “I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

Lange: Nature Deficit

Aug 19, 2016

My first conscious encounter with nature was during the Thirties, in Washington Park in Albany. Walking by the edge of a sloping beach, I spotted a dozen little fish finning around in three inches of water. They were used to grabbing bits of popcorn, and watched me expectantly. I didn’t know what they were, but I desired them acutely.

Starting in mid-February, the morning sun finally rises high enough in the sky to clear the rooftops on the south side of State Street in Montpelier and flood the front windows of the coffee shop on the north side. The clearest days are also the coldest, so we trot out the old New England aphorism, “February sun is hard won,” and turn our faces toward it with our eyes closed.

But by March, we know that, just under our feet, that sun is creating a calamity – one we have to endure, all the while hoping it won’t be too bad this year.

Lange: Ice Dancing

Mar 10, 2016

Some years ago my buddy Dudley and I were waiting for a flight at the Montreal Airport, near the gates reserved for regional turboprops headed north. There were quite a few Inuit in the terminal, and I noticed that when they walked, they kind of shuffled across the smooth terrazzo floor.

The year 2015 has slid away with the turning of a calendar page. Its leaving has sparked a spate of reviews, events, and predictions – as if any of them would make us wiser in this coming year. An editor has emailed me to ask how 2015 has changed us. I presume "us" means the United States.

Lange: Hope

Dec 23, 2015

Mother and I were married in October over half a century ago. That first winter, I worked in the woods near Lake Placid for the New York State Conservation Department. I loved the work; but I was only in my twenties, and I noticed one day that most of the other men, who were two or three times older and, like me, up to their thighs in the snow, didn’t seem to be enjoying it as much as I was. I had an attack of insight that day that moved me to pack up my family and return to college to finish my degree.

Lange: Hunter Orange

Oct 1, 2015

Sixty years ago, when I first went into deer camp, we all hunted in our regular cold-weather work clothes – green- or red-checked wool jackets, gray wool pants, and whatever hats kept our ears warm on cold days.

Lange: Vermont Rivers

Aug 10, 2015

When my family and I moved to the Connecticut River Valley in 1968, I took kayak-rolling lessons at the Ledyard Canoe Club in Hanover. After a few dunkings, my eyes burned; and before getting dressed, I had to take a shower. I found out later the burning was caused by fecal pollution.

In the fall of 1955 I was quarrying stone in the Adirondacks, and feeling pretty tough. One evening, a buddy and I stopped at the Redfield Inn for a couple of beers. I was talking colorfully about how quarry work built muscle, when I noticed two important things: It was a loggers’ bar, and I had collected an audience – a hostile one, too.

Vermonters love it when the Canadian dollar is down; they flock north to Montreal. I love the trip for the fascinating geology: evidence of volcanoes, plate movements, glaciers, erosion. We’re surrounded by it all the way.

The act of thanksgiving must be as old as human activity.  Neanderthals in their day must have felt thankful for successful hunts or for escaping maiming by wounded mastodons.  We Americans often think of it as an event started in 1621 by the surviving Plimoth Colony Puritans – half had died in the past year – in celebration of a successful Indian corn harvest.  The native Wampanoags had generously showed these surprising arrivals how to survive in the woods of the New World.  The pilgrims’ celebration was reenacted for almost 250 years afterward and on different dates in various parts of

Lange: Proper English

Sep 19, 2014

My first month in secondary school was an English language boot camp. The drill instructor was Thomas Donovan; we still call him TD. He assigned essays due each Monday morning at eight when he entered the classroom.

Lange: September 1814

Sep 9, 2014

I'd hate to think that with all the attention we're paying this year to Civil War battles of 150 years ago – Cold Harbor, the Wilderness, Atlanta – we might find ourselves giving short shrift to one that took place right around here 200 years ago, pushing Vermont into a strangely ambivalent position.