May, 2007

The Amazing Grace Paley:
Vermont's Poetic Conscience

It wasn't easy for Thetford writer Grace Paley to find time for this interview. Nearing 85, Paley has been fighting breast cancer for a number of years and, the month before, she'd finished a new round of chemotherapy. Yet she and poet husband, Bob Nichols, had just collaborated on a new book, Here and Somewhere Else, out the same week I visited. She looked thinner than when I last saw her, but put me at ease, beginning our talk the way women often do: she admired my sweater.

I complimented her beret, worn at a jaunty angle, and she took it off to show me how short her hair is now, and darker - no longer snowy white. "It's beginning to grow back now," she said, running her hand over her head. "I was bald." Blunt, her voice still hails from the Bronx, edged with kindliness.

Paley first began spending summers in Vermont in the early 1970s. I asked her how she liked living here now, a place still snowy in April, and so different from her home town. "I feel lucky to be here," she answered. "But I was lucky to live in New York City, too. Both places are so different and both exciting to me. I wouldn't be who I am if I hadn't had both these places."

Read the full article


Reviews of Books by Grace Paley, and Lisa Alther

The Collected Stories

Here and Somewhere Else: Stories and Poems

Kinfolks: Falling Off the Family Tree

The Collected Stories
Grace Paley
Farrar, Straus & Giroux 1995 (hardcover); 2007 (paperback)
386 pp.


Read the full article

Here and Somewhere Else: Stories and Poems
Grace Paley and Robert Nichols
Feminist Press 2007
147 pp.

Kinfolks: Falling Off the Family Tree: The Search for My Melungeon Ancestors
by Lisa Alther
Arcade Publishing, 2007
241 pp.


Read the full article


A Beautiful Legacy of Art by Our Vermont Masters

Martha Wood Belcher, Hilda Belcher, Georgia Balch, Ruth Mould, Mary Taylor Bryan - their names may be unknown to many Vermonters, but they left us an extraordinary legacy of art. The Mary Taylor Bryan Memorial Gallery in Jeffersonville is showcasing a portion of that legacy in the new exhibition, "Masters of Vermont." The show, presented in cooperation with the Vermont chapter of the National Museum of Women and the Arts and Vermont Woman, opened on April 15 and runs to June 17.

Bryan Gallery's Executive Director Mickey Myers says that the exhibition grew out of a planned retrospective of Ruth Mould's work that she inherited from her predecessor when she took the position last fall. Myers also wanted to find a new angle on Mary Taylor Bryan. "I started to think how these women's legacies live on largely through the efforts of their families, and what could the Bryan do to strengthen the legacies," she says.

Read the full article

Sugaring by Georgia Balch

Trying the Limits of Legality:
Middlebury Wrestles With the Purple Sticky Stuff

Humans have consumed plants since the dawn of time, with a broad variety of effects on our bodies. They provide nutrition and antioxidants (beets, spinach), enhance the flavor of boring grains (thyme and oregano), soothe a rumbly tummy (peppermint), wake us up (coffee, yerba mate), or send us off to sleep (catnip, dill). Plants form the basis of many regulated prescription drugs, like valerian yielding Valium, or the foxglove extract digitalis. Although the pharmaceutical companies complain and issue press-release style info-mercials warning of the danger of utilizing herbal remedies, the vast majority of these plants are legal and unregulated, even when packaged and marketed to cause an impact on the human body (like SleepyTime tea, or Gypsy Cold Care).

Read the full article

Cindy Hill

Your Garden - Designing for Taste and Beauty

Vermont has a rich history of farming, and today's gardeners are carrying on that tradition throughout the state, from the Intervale in Burlington to the Two Rivers Center in Montpelier to backyards everywhere.

Although no numbers exist for the state, Bruce Butterfield of the National Gardening Association, based in South Burlington, notes that one "long-term tradition in Vermont is food gardening, more than in any other New England state." Vermonters are also growing more traditional gardens with hardy perennials, he says. "Another trend that is encouraging is that even if people don't grow gardens, they go to a farmers market, and support local farms."

Read the full article

Lynette Courtney and Carol Schminke