Yes, there is a Vermont Almanac. You’ll want to read it.
On Saturday May 28, Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph, Vermont is hosting VERMONT ALMANAC VOICES with TURNIP TRUCK & an Upper Gallery Makers' Market, a decidedly Vermont-centric event featuring live music, makers and vendors of Vermont products, and readings by contributors to Volume II of the Vermont Almanac. Doors open at 6:30 p.m with the program beginning at 7:00.
But that is what might be called “burying the lede.” A Vermont Almanac, let alone a Volume II? For reasons unknown, the existence of the Almanac had escaped my normally book-attuned attentions. I am now sitting with Volume II in my hands.
Published recently in 2021, Volume II has predictably followed an inaugural volume published the year before. Plans are to publish annually. According to editor Dave Mance, “Volume III is scheduled for release this coming autumn. Each volume starts in October and unfolds over 12 months. This way of marking a year is an homage to the traditional Native American calendar, where the year began with the fall harvest, when larders were full and life was at its peak, and then unfolded into the lean winter months, then spring’s rebirth, then summer’s renewal and journey back to peak.”
Inside the book’s handsome cover are stories that embrace Vermont traditions of farming, sugaring, foliage, ice and mud seasons. But they are stories of traditions interpreted through a contemporary lens. The dairy farming of the past (as but one example—you can fill in other traditional enterprises) is still here, but changed. There are reports of meat production in Vermont along with a sidebar by Chuck Wooster, “Things to Think About If You’re New to This,” and a paean by Virginia Barlow to the newly discovered health benefits of maple syrup, the darker (“sometimes disparagingly compared to crankcase oil”), the better. You’ll find an essay on, what else? the vagaries of the local weather in the month of May. Photographs, poems, and artwork, like the delicate paintings of artist Daisy Hebb, abound throughout the volume.
The Almanac is “an annual book that’s part yearbook, part handbook, part love letter to rural Vermont. . . . a sort of stage where these wonderfully talented Vermont writers and artists can share their work. It’s a source of exposure for farmers and loggers and naturalists and big ideas. —Dave Mance III, editor and sugarmaker. Mance works with editors Virginia Barlow and Patrick White (who is also a Christmas tree grower), Business Manager Amy Peberdy and Lisa Cadieux, designer.
If you live here, especially by choice, the Vermont Almanac: Stories From & For the Land is a most agreeable companion. It would also make an informative gift to your city friends who wonder (as one of mine did aloud) “just what is it that you do up north.” Writers and artists who may want to contribute their work to future volumes should contact editor Dave Mance.
Contributors who will be reading their work at Chandler on May 28 include: former Vermont Poet Laureate Sydney Lea, Chuck Wooster, Suzanne Opton, Bill Torrey, Scudder Parker, Virginia Barlow, Shanta Lee Gander, Verandah Porche, Paul Lefebvre, and Sylvia Davatz. For tickets for both in-person and live-stream options, and for further information about the performance, click here.
Want to take a peek inside and/or order a copy of the Vermont Almanac? Click here.
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Susan B. Apel shuttered a lifelong career as a law professor to continue an interest (since kindergarten) in writing. Her freelance business, The Next Word, includes literary and feature writing; her work has appeared in a variety of lit mags and other publications including Art New England, The Woven Tale Press, The Arts Fuse, and Persimmon Tree. She connects with her neighbors through Artful, her blog about arts and culture in the Upper Valley. She’s in love with the written word.