Willem Lange


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

Lange: River Trail

Aug 28, 2014

The silver maple likes to get its feet wet. It grows in groves along silty river banks, hanging over the water. When it dies, or is undermined by the river, it often falls into the water. During floods, the river flows through its groves, easing the pressure on the valley below; and when the floods subside, they leave fresh layers of silt behind.

Lange: The Tamarack

Aug 4, 2014

In midsummer, Vermont is as green as it’s possible to be. But when I turn into my driveway, a softer, lighter green always stokes old memories for me.

Larix laricina, commonly known as American larch, is native to Canada, from Yukon east to Newfoundland, and south into the northeastern United States.

In the middle of a July heat wave, some friends and I picked our way through Devils Gulch in the Town of Eden, Vermont. The deer flies were fierce, and there was a fresh moose skeleton lying in the trickle of water flowing through the middle of the gulch.

Lange: Getting Away

Jun 25, 2014

Mark Twain is said to have written, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Long ago, when I was a new teacher, my principal, a retired Navy officer, waxed avuncular one day. “If you’re going to teach,” he said, “you’ll never make a lot of money; so you’ve gotta decide whether to spend it on things or on experiences. You can’t have both.”

John Dillon

I glanced out my office window at seven this morning. A dozen large wild turkeys were lined up on the far side of the yard, feathers all fluffed up in the cold, looking right at me. They were just starting their daily scavenge of the neighborhood.

Those of us who were once involved in winter sports – skiing, skating, bobsledding – might easily dismiss the spectacle of the Olympics. The starting line of a cross-country race, for example, represents sometimes lonely years of weight lifting, hill running, wind sprints, waxing, and thousands of miles of looking at the words Fischer, Rossignol, or Karhu shooting ahead of you in the snow.

Lange: Cryptobiosis

Jan 6, 2014

Some years ago I wrote an article for Yankee Magazine about termites and carpenter ants, and came across a word I’d never seen before – cryptobiotic.

Favor Johnson

Dec 24, 2013

"Favor Johnson" is the story of a hound named Hercules, a flatlander doctor, homemade fruitcake and the real spirit of Christmas.

Snow was falling softly past the street lamps in the village, muffling the sounds of the occasional car and the rattle of the brook down behind the post office and the general store. From almost every chimney, smoke drifted up through the falling snow. A few houses were hung with wreaths and colored lights around the front doors. Through the front windows gleamed lights on Christmas trees.

Between December 14 and January 5, volunteers from the National Audubon Society will conduct their annual one-day Christmas bird counts. The practice goes back 113 years. Frank Chapman, an ornithologist, started the count in 1900 to record the effects of industry, large-scale-farming, and logging on bird populations.

Lange: Hunting Camp

Nov 26, 2013

Hunting camp as a cultural ritual extends in a swath across most of North America. This week I’m in a camp in far northern New Hampshire. Folks who haven’t been, often imagine it a scene of bacchanalia. But I’ve never found that in any camp since my first deer season in 1957.

It was many years ago now. Three of us were in hunting camp for the weekend, and old Bill had driven up the mountain for the evening. He never drove his Jeep across the brook just below camp because he was pretty fussy about that Jeep. He crossed the brook on foot and walked up to camp.

Lange: Sacred Ground

Sep 10, 2013

We’re hearing a lot this week about something called “sacred ground.” But I’m puzzled by what it might be that makes a piece of geography sacred ground – if there even is such a thing. If there is, I’d guess it’s perhaps at Gettysburg or Chancellorsville. Or at Normandy, and under the crosses and Stars of David at Anzio.

Lange: Distant Dream

Aug 28, 2013

In 1963 Mother and I were busy. We lived on the New York side of the lake; Burlington and Camels Hump were part of our view to the east. Our kids were one and three years old. We were teaching school, and I was working on a blacktop crew for the summer to make ends meet. We’d bought three acres of land, and on a sheet of poster board, Mother was drawing the floor plan for our first house.

Lange: Narrow Valleys

Aug 21, 2013

The late humorist and story-teller Marshall Dodge once characterized Maine humor as wacky; New Hampshire’s as slightly acerbic, the result of living on rocky, acid soil; and Vermont’s as ironic and self-deprecating – the effect of living in narrow, confined valleys without any long views.

Lange: True Stories

Jul 26, 2013

I had just told my favorite spooky story to a bunch of boys around a blazing fire. One kid looked at the black woods around us and asked, “Is there really a huge frog that comes and grabs people in the night? Was that story true?”

Lange: High Tide

Jul 5, 2013

The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg has just passed, and the throngs who came for the reenactment and speeches have departed. The national park is relatively quiet again. Very peaceful.

Yet only a few hundred yards away was fired the first shot of the greatest battle ever fought in the Western Hemisphere. Shortly afterward, Hell broke loose, and by nightfall the Union Army had been pushed back through the village of Gettysburg and had dug in on the hills beyond.

Lange: A Bully Life

Jun 5, 2013

One hundred, one years ago this month, in Chicago, the Republican National Convention was in full cry. To the delight of the Democrats, the party was pulling itself apart.

Lange: End of Session

May 17, 2013

The smallest capital in the United States has returned to its customary somnolence; the Vermont legislature has adjourned for the year. There were a few bills that stalled in committee, or got put off till the next session because they weren’t going to get settled any time soon and would keep the members from their day jobs.

It's Sunday morning in Vermont, and according to a recent national poll, a smaller percentage of our residents is in church than in any other state in the Union. Some of us find that an embarrassment; most of us, obviously, don't. Many wonder why. It shouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out.

Lange: A State I Love

Feb 20, 2013

(Host) Vermont and its citizens are unique in the universe; everybody recognizes that. Writer and storyteller Willem Lange thinks that Calvin Coolidge said it best.