More than 50 commentators provide perspective and opinion about current events, topics of interest, and often showcase the work of writers and storytellers. The VPR Commentary Series is produced by Betty Smith-Mastaler.
This summer I plan to finish painting my house and it won’t be a moment too soon. When I started scraping, it was just Angela and me and our dog Sammy. Now that I’m almost finished, Sammy is long gone and we have two kids, one of whom is old enough to recite the Robert Frost Poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” from memory.
When I began work as a Green Mountain Club caretaker on Mount Mansfield, way back in 1971, my boss issued me something he assured me I’d use frequently. I didn’t think I’d still be using it all these years later.
It was a small book, bound in green leather: the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Mountain Flowers of New England , first published fifty years ago this past spring.
I learned a new word recently, and now I’m gonna roll it out for you: Vomitory. I picked it up while talking to the folks at Northern Stage, the nonprofit professional theatre company in White River Junction. So I knew right away that it had nothing to do with reverse peristalsis. Vomitories are a feature of ancient Roman amphitheatres, Fenway Park, and car dealerships – or, at least, the former car dealership where Northern Stage is constructing its new theatre.
When the late Dan Darrow was running for the state legislature in my district almost twenty years ago, he handed out a campaign brochure with the recipe for his famous blueberry pie. His opponent accused him of offering pie in the sky.
We’re putting our future at risk. The current political stasis that ignores the needs of so many Americans and immigrants and refuses to fix broken systems is creating a new wave of troubled citizens who will only cost more to help in the future. If we think the safety net is expensive now…do nothing and see what awaits us in another decade.
After having spent years forcing my younger sister to play student with me as the teacher, it came as no surprise to my family when I decided to go to law school to become a professor. I was so excited when I finally got to meet with the faculty advisor for those of us who wanted to teach. For now, I’ll just call him Professor Kingsfield, for reasons that will become apparent.
So Professor Kingsfield met with me, asked a couple of questions, and after just a few seconds said, “I don’t think you’re law professor material.” Just like that. “Not law professor material.”
My good friend of many years, Ash Eames of Wentworth, New Hampshire died recently. But for a good part of his life, Ash was involved in community development work and the peace and justice movement in Nicaragua. And I believe that his legacy - along with that of countless others - could be instructive in helping us respond to the plight of thousands of unaccompanied children now streaming across the Texas border. They come from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras - but not, as it happens, Nicaragua.
He was a formidable specimen, a crew-cut Tarzan, all tanned and muscular. Ace Kruger was his name -like someone holding a glass of ale in one hand the high card in the other. And he was a mighty contrast to skinny little me that morning in 1949 when we met as I shivered knee deep in the chill waters of Barnard’s Silver Lake, at 7:30 with the fog not yet burned away.
In researching a book about war memorials and monuments, I was both pleased and gratified to meet Frank Gaylord, the 89-year-old sculptor of the figures in the Korean War Memorial in Washington D.C. It was an honor to shake the hand that had carved those ghostly soldiers, and many more noteworthy statues besides.