It was a cold, snowy Sunday morning in the middle of January. I planned to heed the warnings encouraging motorists to stay off the road and turned on the radio to catch the end of an interview with poet Mary Oliver, recorded in 2015. The poet had died earlier that week, at age 83. “Listening…

When I make a new friend I always ask, “Are you a gardener?” Often younger people with kids say, “I want to, but I’m too busy.” If you have limited time and space, you may wish to consider growing a few perennial plants that produce lots of food — whether you do much for them or not.

80 by 18 is a National Colorectal Cancer Initiative sponsored by more than 1,000 organizations, including the American Cancer Society, that have committed themselves to substantially reducing the number of deaths caused by colorectal cancer by increasing the percentage of the population scre…

Parents can’t resist asking me if their child would benefit from an antibiotic when they are sick. So let me prescribe some advice about why we do and do not like to use antibiotics.

  • +4

In the late 1700s, economist and scholar Thomas Robert Malthus showed that food production could be outpaced by population growth. Moreover, when food supply increases, he showed that population will also increase, thereby eating up any abundance in food. Any improvement to the well-being of…

Recently, the editor of the editorial page of the Valley News received a letter from a student named Izzie in “Mrs. B’s Class” at the Langley School of McLean, Virginia. As part of a “state fair” project, his third-grade class had been given an assignment to study various states of the union…

The classic tune by John Denver could have just as easily been about Vermont instead of West Virginia. When it comes to country roads, Vermont has a lot of them — more than most other states, thanks to its rural development pattern over the past few hundred years.

I’ve taken to wandering the night lately — one of the pleasures of having a puppy. Willow, my pup, and I walk at all hours, from twilight to midnight and into the shadowy early morning. Some nights we walk under the cover of stars and moonlight, and other nights the world is so dark, my blac…

With the change of seasons just weeks away, we decided to do some early spring cleaning of our eating routines. We don’t mean dieting. We mean taking stock of what we eat and why we eat to optimize health, wellness and energy. For guidance, we turned to Kate Bean, a registered dietitian, cer…

  • +3

When I say “pollinator,” you think bee, right? Honeybee, bumblebee, wild bee. But what about moth, butterfly, beetle or fly? Many of those are pollinators, too. I recently read an interesting article about pollinators by Dan Jaffe and Jane Roy Brown in the “Native Plant News,” a magazine put…

Somewhere around the middle of the night at about the 90-mile mark, the course of the marathon fell in with a “seismic line” — a straight swath cut through the bush and used by energy companies to explore for oil with bulldozers and explosives — and began to follow it up and down hill regard…

The climb up that steep ridge is tough enough in daylight; in hours of darkness, it is downright dangerous. One slip down on that bad knee could mean the end of the deer season. But this is a place where I have killed deer and, on this morning, I take the half-hour trek, all uphill, with the…

Like most people, I thought I knew where to find fireflies: in back yards and fields on summer nights, flickering on and off like dollhouse-sized lanterns or like Tinker Bell, the tiny fairy that the author of Peter Pan invented while observing fireflies near a Scottish lake.

One foot in front of the other is my mantra when hiking, whether it has been the short trek to the height of Stowe Pinnacle Trail, hiking the full stretch of Long Trail from Massachusetts to Canada, three weeks on the John Muir Trail in California, or my 1,200-mile journey covering half of t…

With the change of seasons just weeks away, we decided to do some early spring cleaning of our eating routines. We don’t mean dieting. We mean taking stock of what we eat and why we eat to optimize health, wellness and energy. For guidance, we turned to Kate Bean, a registered dietitian, cer…

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department’s plan to close down the Salisbury Fish Culture Station came under much criticism and the response was overwhelming. Now, Fish & Wildlife may come up with another proposal to cut $250,000 from its budget.

Act One opens in a forest on the western slopes of the Taconic Mountains in southwestern Vermont. A man in his 40s is walking with his former high-school geology teacher, a man now in his 70s. Amid the towering trees, they come across a VW bus-sized boulder, sitting alone and somewhat out of…

  • +2

Many Vermonters received a confusing postcard from the Department of Motor Vehicles in January. The card thanked readers for their participation in Vermont’s new statewide electronic inspections program, called the Automated Vehicle Inspection Program, or AVIP.

If I’d known what I was getting into, I’d’ve brought the Delorean instead of the Prius. The Prius was fine for getting me here — I just typed “Black Mountain Ski Area, Jackson, NH” into the GPS route-finder, and the lady with the precise accent took care of the rest. But once I got out of th…

Parents have been babying me with questions about when their child is old enough to babysit. Let me take on the job of discussing babysitting and provide some more information on the topic.

The New York Times recently reported that opioid overdose was the leading cause of death for people under the age of 50 in the United States (2018). The incidence of prescription medication overdose that occurs outside of health-care facilities has increased exponentially in the last 20 year…

We celebrate George Washington’s birthday this month, during a long cold and flu season. Much like President Washington, I cannot tell any lies — about these winter illnesses. Instead, I want to speak the truth about some rumors regarding the common cold.

That sweet time of year is almost upon us. Soon, Vermont’s sugarhouses will come to life as sap starts flowing from the maple trees and into plastic piping and metal buckets, to be collected and boiled down into one of our state’s favorite sweet treats, maple syrup.

It was sort of a mutual curiosity society: The wolves were watching us from perches on hillsides, and we were watching them from our canoes as we passed. We lads of the Geriatric Adventure Society’s Arctic Division were a long way from anywhere, on the Hayes River in Nunavut; coordinates rou…

I love trees, and find them endlessly fascinating. Each is unique, much as we are. One winter I attempted (and failed) to read all of Michael Dirr’s authoritative “Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs” — all 950 pages of it. I only read about trees that are hardy here, and still only foun…

A few winters back, there was a doe who frequented our compost heap. The garden fence around it proved an inadequate barrier, as she simply hopped over it to nosh on the rotting shards of jack-o-lanterns and the latest veggie scraps tossed atop the pile. Not far from the garden sits an old o…

Right around Valentine’s Day, parents always crush me with questions about their son’s or daughter’s first romantic relationship. Take heart, and let me provide some information on this heartfelt topic.

Let’s face it. It can be hard to get outside during a Vermont winter to get some exercise and activity every day. The good news is that the Rutland region is brimming with programs, new and old, to make it easy and fun to play outside in the snow. So, let’s talk about all of the outdoor acti…

When we’re filing out our income tax returns, most of us are focused on how much money we’re going to get back. But when it comes to the Vermont state income tax return, there is an invitation to donate some of your refund to a good cause.

The only thing I dislike about New England is that whenever I have an inspiration about a feature of our beautiful, but sequestered life, I discover that another immigrant far more talented — Robert Frost — has already been there. Likewise commentary on the socio-political scene: Whenever I …

Remember that sweet, sunny June morning when you took your children to the local kids’ fishing derby? You captured those big smiles on camera as your kids held up the very first trout of the day, maybe the first fish of their young lives, then looked on as they munched on hot dogs and drank …

On winter mornings when I look out my window, I often see a gray squirrel clinging upside down to the post supporting my bird feeder, with his front paws in the tray, munching sunflower seeds. Sometimes, a much smaller red squirrel is perched on the opposite side of the feeder.

I am always perked up when the spring flower shows arrive, and I always try to get to a couple of them. If you’re feeling the midwinter blues, I highly recommend attending one, or more. Here’s this year’s lineup.

As part of a campaign in support of nuclear cardiac imaging, The Rutland Health Foundation, the fundraising department at Rutland Regional Medical Center, recently launched a campaign to raise $500,000 in support of a new nuclear medicine camera for the Rutland Heart Center.

Winter is a good time to look at the trees and shrubs on your property. Even though the snow may keep you from working on your trees, study your landscape now to see if you need to do some judicious tree removal or pruning before summer.

With February being National Heart Month, parents have been pumping me about their children’s heart health. Let me get to the heart of the matter and talk about the prevention of heart disease, beginning in childhood.

A husky, dark-haired man, looking to be maybe in his 50s, stands at the edge of a freshly frozen black-ice lake, wearing a bathing suit and a pair of ice skates. He steps onto the ice carrying a short-bladed chain saw. He starts the saw and, squatting down, touches it to the ice between his …