We all have our favorite leisure activities. I am an avid reader and I love writing, but those things don’t add up to hobbies. Truth is, I have three hobbies — hunting, fishing and poker.

Sixty years ago this summer, when my late wife and I met and married, I was the proud, but beleaguered, owner of a middle-aged Jaguar roadster, a roaring, demanding beast that was as close to my wildest dreams as possible. It was like a love affair with, say, Sophia Loren — fantastic and int…

Spring in Vermont is one of the most magical times of the year. After the long winter, seeing the green grass, hearing the birds chirping and watching the flowers bloom brings a sense of happiness and rejuvenation. For those of us with allergies, though, the onset of spring can also bring wi…

Spring in Vermont is one of the most magical times of the year. After the long winter, seeing the green grass, hearing the birds chirping and watching the flowers bloom brings a sense of happiness and rejuvenation. For those of us with allergies, though, the onset of spring can also bring wi…

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Recently I was asked about plants for shady places. Wildflowers, I said, are wonderful in the woods or at the edge of the woods. Most show up early, before the leaves are on the trees. They are the perfect antidote to a long winter and rainy spring. They bring color and brightness just when …

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Vermont is a wildlife viewing showcase. With a variety of habitats for wildlife to choose from, Vermont contains vast green woods, bogs straight out of a fairy tale, and even alpine tundra on top of its highest peaks. The state is an avian crossroads, where snowy owls spend the winter and ma…

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One of my yearly high points occurs when my Merrill magnolia blooms. This year, and most years, mine blooms on my birthday, April 23. This year it opened that afternoon; some years it starts a week earlier and is fully in blossom; once or twice it has held off until May. Only once in 25 year…

Moving along a logging trail, a good 20 minutes before daylight, I turned off and climbed a very steep ridge that opened to a big stand of hardwood trees, bordered by an old clear cut.

It’s tempting to simply view fish scales as armor, but there’s more to them than that. They provide camouflage; they also play a role in locomotion. For scientists working on the recovery of American shad in the Connecticut River, scales provide a record of a fish’s life history, and a way t…

It was November 1970. I was located about 44º54’N, 71º5’W. I know that now because I have GoogleEarth to refer to, but I sure didn’t know it then. I was somewhere in a swampy thicket west of the Dead Diamond River in the Dartmouth College Grant, and with darkness coming on, needed to get bac…

Arthritis is a common cause of chronic pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 54.4 million adults in the United States are affected by arthritis. Prevalence is highest among women, those between 45 and 64 years old, those with other chronic diseases …

There is a broad, craggy precipice in Franconia Notch, not far from my home, called Eagle Cliff. It was named in the 1800s for the golden eagles nested there, back when the region was full of open farmland conducive to the giant raptors’ lifestyle. While the fields have grown up and the eagl…

If you want an abundant fall vegetable garden, you should start planning now. Nope, you didn't read that wrong.

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If you’ve visited any great gardens, you know they consist of more than just flowers. They have fine trees and shrubs, pathways, perhaps stonework or pottery, maybe a bit of whimsy, or walls and great views. Now, before your trees are fully leafed out and the perennials have begun to distrac…

Eighteen years ago, when I moved back to New Hampshire, I rarely came across ticks. The dog didn’t carry them unwittingly into the house, and I could spend the day in the garden or on wooded trails and not see a single, hard-shelled, eight-legged, blood-sucking creepy-crawly.

Those with an eye to the outdoors will notice wildlife becomes increasingly active as the weather warms. Our winter resident birds now fill the morning with song, skunks are once again skulking, and even the moths are emerging. As we move into the growing season, one of the most iconic sound…

I spend too much time on the Internet — sometimes I suspect it’s even an addiction — scrolling through the hundreds of comments, requests and memes posted by legions of users. They range from requests for money or prayers for afflicted people, to comments on the current political scene, to a…

Did you know that the public has rated nursing as the most honest and ethical professional for the past 17 years in a row? National Nurses Week was first celebrated in 1954, in honor of the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s mission to Crimea. This week is meant to honor the nursing…

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Seedlings raised on windowsills or in greenhouses have been coddled to some degree and aren’t ready to face the great outdoors. A temporary period called “hardening off” can prepare these plants for more-intense sunlight, wind and varying temperatures.

Visiting a forest along one of our major rivers, such as the Connecticut River, in late spring, is like entering a special world. Big silver maples tower overhead, with arching branches and roots reaching deep underground. Cottonwoods up to five feet in diameter and vase-shaped American elms…

Driving a car in our hurried lanes without a seat belt for ourselves or our children would be reckless and an endangerment. Infectious diseases are even more a dire and constant threat to our health than the dangers of modern driving. The livelihood of our family and community depend on comp…

A strange sound broke me from sleep a few nights ago. At first, it sounded like a coyote, so I arose from my bed, went to the bathroom window, lifted it and listened, hoping the big predator would call once more.

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There are certain small skills that make life better and easier. I’m well aware that many of them take place outside of the kitchen, and I probably don’t know as many of those as I should. I’m of no use if you have a flat tire or need to calculate the circumference of something, or want to f…

Well, I won’t do that again. It’s easy, living as we do in the semi-rural bubble of Vermont, to forget that much of the nation south of us is more heavily populated than we, and that navigating it successfully can be a bit challenging, especially for an octogenarian. At one point, as three f…

At a recent used-book sale I purchased a copy of a lovely book called “One Hundred Flowers,” by Harold Feinstein (Bullfinch Press, 2000). This large-format book includes not only 100 amazing, huge close-up photos of flowers against black backgrounds, it has a lovely introductory essay by Syd…

The 2019 maple sugaring season has, for most, just ended in southern Vermont and New Hampshire. And so sugarmakers are tallying up their sap and syrup volumes to see how they made out. My sense, as a sugarmaker myself, is that most did well.

I’m writing this a few days early; I’m not quite sure where I’ll be on deadline day. On the other hand, you’re reading this after I’ll have returned home. I hope all this confuses you less than it does me.

One of the most common questions I get from friends, family and community members is how to make a difference in the life of someone with autism. While there is a big spectrum in the autism community, there are some common features and struggles that can be addressed with simple modifications.

Some stories take longer to tell than others. Twelve years ago, Anne Sarcka, a community organizer and artist who has lived in Montpelier since 1978, published the autobiography of her father, Wayne Sarcka, “Giving a Lift in Time: A Finnish Immigrant’s Story.” A wide-ranging tale of war, adv…

The American Occupational Therapy Association has adopted the slogan “Living Life to its Fullest” as a simple yet powerful message in honor of Occupational Therapy Month.

On a moonlit night 200 years ago, a dog-shaped shadow slipped through the Vermont woods. The large, shaggy canid emerged onto a hilltop pasture, raised its muzzle, and howled — a deep, throaty howl that reverberated through the hills. A chorus of wolves responded.

With sunny, warm days upon us, we all want to start gardening. But beware: If you leave footprints in the soil, or feel it go squish, it’s not time to be doing anything. Plants get their oxygen from their roots, not their leaves. If you compact the soil, you can seriously harm your plants by…

Every April, people across America celebrate Alcohol Awareness Month, an initiative sponsored by Facing Addiction with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD). The theme of this year’s celebration is “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.” During Alcohol Awareness Month, …

By day, Ram Verma is the director of technology services for the Vermont State Treasurer’s Office. Regularly, by night, Ram sits vigil with central Vermonters nearing the end of life. He does this work as a trained volunteer for Central Vermont Home Health & Hospice.

How many times have you watched this scene on, say, “Law and Order” or “Matlock?” A witness is asked to swear to tell “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God.” He or she takes the witness seat to be examined or cross-examined, depending upon who’s called him. I…