Tag Archives: New England

The Blizzard of 2015

Snowdrift in Boston

 

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12 Days of New England Christmas Traditions (Day 3): The Vermont Country Store

The famous Vermont Country Store has been a shopper’s paradise since 1946. The store, with two locations in Vermont and a thriving catalog business, is run by Lyman Orton and his three sons.

The store is known for its vast stock of both practical and nostalgia items; their motto is “Purveyors of the Practical and Hard-to-Find.” Peruse their catalog or wander their sprawling Weston or Rockingham, Vermont stores and you’ll find an impressive selection of nightgowns, blankets and sheets, baking tools, Vermont’s famous Common Crackers, and other run-of-the-mill household goods. But and you’ll also come across many nostalgia products, like Tangee lipstick, old-fashioned candy like Mary Janes and Clark Bars, and Fisher Price’s old pull-string phone and milk truck toys. As a history buff, I had a blast visiting the Weston store and wandering through the bins and shelves that evoked old Vermont and American traditions; it was a crash course in New England cultural history.

This retail institution is also known for its year-round Christmas shop. There you’ll come across traditional European Christmas fare like marzipan candy and Stollen bread, vintage decorations (glass ornaments, bubble lights, a plastic Santa Claus made from the original 1950s mold), and of course a wide variety of Vermont-made goods.

So whether it’s Christmas or Christmas in July, stop by the Vermont Country Store if you ever find yourself in Weston or Rockingham. Just make sure you give yourself a couple of hours to enjoy a stroll through the past.

Photo source: Vermont Country Store

Photo source: Vermont Country Store

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Nor’easter! Or, 5 things you should not do during a snowstorm

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It’s the first storm of 2014, folks! And the weather reporters are in their glory (recently spotted: a local news reporter waving a towel to show it was windy outside). As someone who used to live in Central New York, I am not freaking out at the -20 windchill forecast for tomorrow; in the Finger Lakes, that is called “every day in winter.”

Here are some things I wish people would not do during a snowstorm, and I say this as a battle-tested veteran of many a Nor’easter, blizzard, “snow event” or whatever you want to call it (although I refuse to call it Hercules, because The Weather Channel is alone on that one).

1. Don’t buy just bread, milk, and alcohol. This is so cliche. You will be stuck with this food for the next couple of days, and it’s going to get old fast (okay, maybe the alcohol won’t, but believe me you can only have so much toast and peanut butter sandwiches). I was happy to see on Twitter that snow-fearin’ hipsters had busted out of the bread-milk-alcohol mold and cleaned out the bagged organic carrots section of the JP Whole Foods.

2. If you are a news reporter or meteorologist, there is a whole other list of things you should not be doing (showing shots of snow to illustrate it is snowing, touching said snow and informing us that it is light, sticking a ruler in the snow to show there is more of it now, etc.) But you will be doing all of these things anyway, because you are cheesy and predictable. For those of us watching, the least we can do is play Snowstorm News Coverage Bingo (courtesy of Reddit user Adorasaurusrex).

3. For the love of god, don’t skimp on salt for the damn sidewalk in front of your house. I’m lookin’ at you, rich Beacon Hill types who can totally pay somebody else to put salt down even if you are currently in your West Palm Beach digs, laughing at the weather coverage. If there’s one thing you guys won’t find funny, it’s a lawsuit from some poor schmuck who takes a digger on the ice slick in front of your house.

4. Don’t put your trash out when it’s just starting to snow. I see knuckleheads do this all the time. How is the trash crew supposed to find it? Radar? Hold your horses and put it out in the morning when the snow starts to let up. I guarantee that even if trash service isn’t cancelled, it’s going to be late.

5. Stop complaining about the snow if you live here (especially if you’re a native). More than this, stop being shocked that we are getting “so much snow!” It’s New England. Buck up or move somewhere warm. Some of us are crazy enough to love winter and all the snow that comes with it, and that’s one of the reasons why we live here!

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All the Glory of Fall…

It’s cliche, but it’s cliche for a reason.

Apple cider. The first frost. Roadside farm stands overflowing with squash and fall flowers. Hillsides dotted with changing colors, as if a painter had dabbed every tree with a different brush.

Fall is my favorite time of year here in New England. The weather is perfect — warm enough for outside activities during the day, but cool enough for good sleeping at night. Gleaming orange pumpkins and blood-red and yellow mums decorate the stoops and porches. Frost makes the grass crunch when you walk on it in the morning, and every stroll is lit up by the changing colors all around us. Our world is transforming in a familiar and beautiful way.

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pumpkins

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Flag of New England

Today I spotted a flag I don’t see very often, even here in New England (although they are plentiful at Revolution games). Its scarcity is ironic given it’s the Flag of New England (one of many variations). Back in colonial times, and later during the American Revolution, there were a wide range of flags used by local communities, government entities, militia companies, etc. A flag similar to this one but with a blue background was reportedly raised by those American rebels at Bunker Hill.

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Plum Island

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Another photo from my recent trip to Newburyport.

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Newburyport

I went up to Newburyport with a friend for a few hours this afternoon. I forgot what a pretty town it was; I hadn’t been there for years (maybe 6 or 7?). It was also a picture-perfect New England summer day.

Lobster traps

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World’s End

Like any respectable Bostonian, I understand some basic rules about weather:

  • Always bring an extra layer. 
  • Don’t walk on brick when it’s snowing.
  • Never trust a weather report. Unless it’s in the Farmers’ Almanac.
  • Jackets with removable hoods are very handy.
  • Everyone needs a mud room.
  • Drop everything and take advantage of the good weather while you can.

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This last rule was my guide and compass yesterday, when I ignored the looming workload that my current projects demand and joined a good friend for a picnic and hike at World’s End out in Hingham. There was hardly a cloud in the sky for most of the day. There’s something about picnics and meadows that brings me back to childhood and that old amazement of discovery. When you’re a child, every tree, every bug, every bird and every footprint, every rut on a carriage road is new for you to name. As a city-dwelling adult, to have a few hours to be in the woods or by the ocean is a welcome respite. It was nice to visit nature — and childhood — yesterday.

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Today, on the other hand, is a good day to do our indoor work. It is muggy and wet, and you could smell the rain before it arrived. It makes me even more glad for yesterday’s adventure. It will hold me over, and help me remember there is also beauty in the cloud-darkened window, the relief of the thirsty trees and flowers, and the glistening brick sidewalks.

World's End, Hingham, MA

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