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Posts Tagged ‘Vermont’

North Country Farm Stands

In Daily Munge, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on July 20, 2011 at 4:56 pm


Farm Stand In Vermont

The good folks at Cooking Up a Story featured this slice of North Country summer living, and I couldn’t resist contacting them to find out where the farm stand is located. They responded quickly:

They are in Alburgh, VT – which is in the northwest corner of the state – nestled against NY and Canada, along Route 2. Drive up and check them out sometime. Really nice people!

Close enough for a visit, but not swing-by-and-grab-some-sweet-corn close. Too bad! Nevertheless, it’s an inspirational story. We used to have a similar farm stand near us in Essex, New York that was run by the Sayward family for many, many years, but it closed up a few summers ago. Still miss it!

We’ve belonged to two CSAs since moving full-time to Essex, Essex Farm and Full and By Farm, and we grow a large vegetable garden and quite a few types of fruit. So I’m not complaining, but I do love the experience of visiting a neighborhood farm stand. It’s nice to meet the growers, hear their stories, learn new ways to prepare the fresh produce.

 

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Crooning to the Adirondack Sunset

In Adirondacks, Daily Munge, History & Heritage, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on June 23, 2011 at 2:31 pm

“Martin Sexton croons to the Adirondack sunset,” reads the minimalist description for this beautiful video. Another video for Martin Sexton’s Over My Head reads, “Martin Sexton sings before the sunrise over Loon Lake, Adirondack Mountains.” Somewhat dissimilar but soulful songs sung in a similar setting. I’m guessing that both videos were recorded on Loon Lake.

This is my first encounter with the music of Martin Sexton (@martin_sexton) but I find it catchy, at once playful and haunting. And there’s something about the Adirondack mornings that he captures in these videos — the sacred sunrise, the unpopulated world — that resonates deeply with me. So often I’ve photographed Rosslyn’s boathouse in these hours. And my earliest infatuation with Rosslyn was a fantasy about spending early morning wandering her rooms. My bride tends to sleep later than I, but Griffin — a Labrador Retriever with an early appetite — and I often rise at 5:00 or 6:00 am. I make him breakfast and then head outside with him to welcome the morning with a cup of tea and often a camera or a notebook. Ideas flow in the morning. With so little noise and so few distractions it’s easier to hear the singing underneath. And the morning light as the sun rises over Vermont’s Green Mountains and bathes the boathouse in orange should be classified an opiate!

I’ve hinted at an elusive Adirondack lifestyle that enchants like an Odyssean siren. Or perhaps a Champlain Valley lifestyle. Seductive mornings are a part of either. Both. And Sexton’s song and video evoke this velvety pull. What do you identify with the Adirondack lifestyle?

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Moon Over Lake Champlain

In Boathouse, Daily Munge, Lake Champlain, What's Rosslyn?, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on June 16, 2011 at 9:11 am
Moonrise over Lake Champlain with Rosslyn boathouse in foreground

Moonrise over Lake Champlain with Rosslyn boathouse in foreground

Last night’s moonrise over the Vermont foothills (south of the Green Mountains) was absolutely sensational! The moon started out fat and orange as it made a dramatic appearance. My bride and I first spied the “Great Pumpkin” while driving home to Essex from Willsboro after dining at Johnny’s Smokehouse. Breathtaking. And elusive because it kept disappearing behind the trees.

Once we arrived home, I grabbed a camera and headed down to the waterfront where I tried to capture — albeit in blurry facsimile — the less orange and smaller but still exquisite orb shimmering across Lake Champlain. The view in this video was shot from the flood damaged but finally dry waterfront of our home in Essex, New York. You can see the Essex ferry dock where the Essex-Charlotte ferry delivers and picks up passengers, and the Old Dock Restaurant is even slightly visible beyond the illuminated ferry gallows. Rosslyn’s boathouse is silhouetted in the foreground with a Lake Champlain moon beam inviting you to begin enjoying summer after Lake Champlain floods put such a damper on the first half of June.

As of this morning, the USGS website reports that the Lake Champlain water level has fallen to 100.33 feet. Most of the bottom terrace of the waterfront is now water free, except for where flooding damaged the stone retaining wall and eroded the lawn. This weekend we’ll remove the remaining debris and begin to repair the damage. We’re still waiting to hear what New York State has decided about stabilizing the embankment and repairing the road, so we’ll need to hold off on significant repairs in the area where NYS Route 22 (aka Essex Road or Lakeshore Road) collapsed at the end of May. But hopefully by next week we’ll be able to start windsurfing and possibly even install the boat lift and docks so that our ski boat can be launched. A late start to summer, but hard won!

 

We could live at Rosslyn

In Champlain Valley, Memoir, What's the story? on June 15, 2011 at 3:29 pm
We could live at Rosslyn

We could live at Rosslyn

“We could live at Rosslyn,” I said.

“What?” Susan sounded startled. “You mean buy Rosslyn and live there?”

“Why not? If we lived here, if it were going to be our home instead of just an investment, maybe we could justify buying it.”

We had joked about how much time and money it would take to make Rosslyn habitable, categorically dismissing it as an investment. And yet it clearly had captured our hearts. If it were our home and not a short term investment, then maybe the criteria were different. Maybe the potential was different. Maybe the risk was different.

“Will you be relocating here full-time?” a realtor had asked a month or two ago while showing us a house.

“Uh, maybe, yes, we’d like to,” Susan had lied, glancing at me awkwardly. Some locals disliked out-of-towners buying, renovating and reselling, so we kept quiet about our plans to do so. Our hearts sank.

“Are you serious? Would you really want to live at Rosslyn?” Susan persisted.

I was unclear whether she was horrified or excited. I had made the suggestion spontaneously, without forethought, and now I felt embarrassed. I knew the idea was absurd. We both knew it made no sense at all. And yet we had returned to see the house again that morning. A second visit to a house we had already decided not to buy. Why? It exerted an inexplicable pull on both of us. It had awakened our imaginations, our fantasies, our hopes.

“No. And yes,” I said, hedging. “No, I’m not really serious. I just suggested it off the cuff. It’s probably the stupidest idea ever, or at least the least serious idea ever. But yes, there is a side of me that would love to live at Rosslyn. I’ve felt it each time we’ve visited the house. I’m not sure I can explain it…”

“You don’t need to,” Susan said. She was beaming. “I agree.” She rose out of the bath and wrapped a towel around her broad shoulders. “What a dream it would be, to live in that grand old home!”

“Really?” A wave of relief and excitement rushed over me. What a dream indeed. I stood and wrapped my arms around Susan as we drowned each other out, pent up monologues bursting out. We sounded manic as we catalogued our dreams. Waterskiing from Rosslyn’s pier still visible in photographs from the mid-1980’s. Awakening in the yellow bedroom brimming with sunlight. Entertaining our families in the evening amidst mingling aromas of arborvitae and grilling hamburgers. Eating cheese fondue next to a crackling fireplace with friends after a day of downhill skiing. Watching the Fourth of July parade from the front steps with our nephews, still fascinated with fire engines, antique tractors and costumed clowns. Recalibrating our urban rhythm to the comings and goings of the Essex-Charlotte ferry. A pair of effervescent hummingbirds flitting from blossom to blossom in the flowerbeds that we would coax back to life. Puttering around in the carriage barn on Sunday afternoons. Tossing bocce balls in the side yard while nursing gin and tonics and watching Vermont’s Green Mountains slide into pastels, then monochromes, then memories.

Ed Pais visits Rosslyn Boathouse

In Boathouse, Daily Munge, Renovation & Rehabilitation, What's Rosslyn?, What's the story? on June 13, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Edward Pais was a classmate of mine at Deerfield Academy from 1986 to 1990, and he now practices architecture in Burlington, Vermont. Despite being out of touch for more than two decades we recently reconnected via Facebook. Ed joined the Rosslyn Redux Facebook page and he’s offered ongoing feedback about our boathouse during the Lake Champlain flooding. Recently he offered to come over and take a look. Needless to say, I eagerly accepted his offer.

We started out with a delicious lunch at Essex Provisions overlooking the still flooded marinas, then headed back to Rosslyn to take a look at the boathouse. Ed’s reaction was encouraging, and despite pushing him into engineering territory a couple of times, I mostly listened and took mental notes. He reminded me that he’s an architect and not an engineer, but repeatedly expressed his confidence in the work of Engineering Ventures in Burlington. Paul Hobbs who handled most of the structural engineering for the boathouse renovation repeatedly impressed with his keen mind, so Ed’s confidence was not misplaced. That said, I do intend to follow up with Hobbs and/or Jeffords Steel to ascertain whether or not the beams which support the suspended pier were fabricated out of COR-TEN or a similar weather resistant steel.

Ed’s recommendation to quickly and aggressively treat the mold situation was highlighted in a follow-up message after his visit. He suggested that we should remove the baseboards to inspect for mold. He linked me to helpful information “Cleaning Mold on Wood” that confirms that we’ve been remediating the post-flood mold situation appropriately.

The molds seen on lumber are largely a collection of fungal spores on the surface of the wood. Wet wiping and scrubbing the lumber will remove the mold. But simply wiping the wood can release spores into the surrounding air. A better approach is to gently spray or wet down the mold prior to removal.

There are a number of products on the market, ranging from common bleach to commercial mildewcides, which are promoted for cleaning mold from wood. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggests using a mild detergent and water for most mold clean up. The EPA recommends wet vacuuming the area, wiping or scrubbing the mold with detergent and water and, after drying, vacuuming with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum.

Common bleach and water can be used for cleaning mold. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends using a solution of 10 parts water to one part bleach to clean mold from surfaces. (Western Wood Products Association)

Huge thanks, Ed, for taking the time to coach me through the latest challenge! I really appreciate it.

After De’s departure my parents joined us for dinner. They’ve just returned to the Adirondacks from Chicago for the summer, so grilling and dining al fresco seemed like the perfect way to launch their summer. While showing my mother the recovering boathouse, I asked if she remembered Ed Pais from Deerfield. She did! She recounted a story that I’d never known. My brother, two years younger than I, had come to Deerfield for his admissions interview. Although he already knew his way around because he had visited me frequently, he decided to take the admissions office campus tour anyway. His tour guide was Ed Pais! When we got back to the house I asked my father if he remembered Ed Pais, and he immediately told me the same story! Ed, must have made quite an impression…

Postprandial Soak

In Memoir, What's the story? on June 2, 2011 at 12:07 pm
Postprandial Soak

Postprandial Soak

After dinner Susan opted for a postprandial soak. Quiet. Languid. Sybaritic. Tasha curled up beside the bathtub, sighed and fell asleep. A breeze carried the faint smell of pine trees through the open window. A whippoorwill called in the distance.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could live here?” Susan said.

“Why couldn’t we?” I asked, vaguely aware that my response might abbreviate the placid mood we were enjoying.

“Really?” Susan sat up abruptly. “I mean, of course we could, but we can’t just leave our friends behind. And the apartment?”

“Our friends would visit. And the apartment? Well, I don’t know. We’d have to figure that out.” We only recently had found and renovated the co-op on East 57th Street, our first home together. Located on the twelfth floor of an understated pre-war with a southern exposure, tons of sunlight, a working fireplace and beautiful hardwood floors, we knew we were incredibly fortunate. The neighbors and staff were friendly, and the neighborhood offered excellent restaurants, grocers, wine shops and even a knowledgeable and well stocked fromagerie.

“We can’t just sell the apartment. I mean we’ve barely lived there. And besides…”

“You want to work in green design, right?” I asked. “Why not get a job in Vermont? They’re all about green over there, aren’t they?”

“How did you know I was thinking about my career?”

“I didn’t know. I guessed.”

“I know I haven’t exactly gotten around to starting my design career yet,” Susan said and went on to remind me that soon – very, very soon – she anticipated a high profile job with a world renowned firm, designing hotels and proving that commercial interior design could be environmentally friendly, healthy and affordable.

“Sounds good,” I said softly, definitively and tried to sink back into dreamy limbo. Susan was quiet. Tasha ran in her sleep, thumping against the side of the tub.

“I need to spend a few years with a big firm first, for the experience. Then, maybe…”

“I’m just saying, if you’re serious about green design, Vermont might be as good a place as any to start your career. And besides, you’d actually be living a green lifestyle in the Adirondacks, right?”

“But what about you?”

“What about me? I’d be living a green lifestyle in the Adirondacks too. I love it here. I’d be thrilled to live here for a few years.” Peripatetic by nature, I enjoyed relocating every three to four years. Having grown up in the Adirondacks, mostly in the Champlain Valley, I had long yearned to reconnect, not just for vacation or a weekend.

“Really? But what about your career?”

“Which one? Teaching? Ecommerce? Renovating real estate? Writing? Susan, my career is adventure!” I said melodramatically. “And right now my adventure is the Margaux Project and ShipStore,” referring to two websites I was currently working on. “I can do that anywhere. And, frankly, if we we’re up here I might find more time to write. This’d be the perfect place to finish my novel.”

“And my screen play.”

“And your screen play.”

Lingering Longer at Rock Harbor

In Champlain Valley, Lake Champlain, Memoir, What's the story? on May 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm
Rock Harbor view of Lake Champlain and Vermont shoreline

Rock Harbor view of Lake Champlain and Vermont shoreline

Back at Rock Harbor I packed the car while Susan prepared tuna melts. The temperature had warmed to the mid seventies, and a light breeze was blowing off the lake. We ate lunch on the deck, one last indulgence before locking up and heading back to Manhattan.

Perched a hundred feet above the lake, the deck offered a stunning panorama of Lake Champlain’s mid-section, known as the narrows. At just over a mile across, the narrows are the wasp’s waist of the 125 mile long lake that at its broadest spans 14 miles across. Across the field of sparkling topaz Vermont farmland extended to the Green Mountains. The Basin Harbor Club’s whitewashed cottages winked through heavy foliage along the shoreline. Several sailboats glided north. A motorboat buzzed lazily, weaving in and out of the coves along the New York shoreline.

I remembered the summer five years ago when Susan and I first explored these same coves together – waterskiing, drifting, skinny dipping – enjoying a whimsical summer fling before heading back to separate lives and responsibilities on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

“I was thinking,” Susan interrupted my reverie. “I don’t really have to be back in the city until noon tomorrow…”

I smiled. We both knew that she really meant, Do you want to stay another night and drive home tomorrow? Though not habitually subtle, Susan had a tendency to suggest rather than request. So, an offhand, “It’s getting late, we really should feed Tasha,” actually translated into, Can you please feed Tasha dinner? Or, “It would be nice to have a fire in the fireplace,” meant, Would you build a fire?

“Great! Let’s stay.”

“Really?” Susan sounded surprised.

“Sure, it’s a perfect day for tennis.”

My work was portable, so Monday mornings rolled out more or less the same whether we were upstate or downstate. Up early, take Tasha out, feed Tasha, feed myself, fire up my laptop and get to work. In Rock Harbor I could let Tasha out the front door in my bathrobe and then let her back in five or ten minutes later when she barked at the door. In Manhattan, I got dressed, chatted with the doormen, walked Tasha around the block on a leash, chatted with the doormen again and then scarfed down a banana or some cereal at my desk in front of my computer. Breakfast at 430 East 57th Street and Camp Wabetsu might have tasted the same, but the view from the kitchen window in Rock Harbor – this same IMAX movie we were experiencing right now – tipped the scale. Often Tasha and I were accompanied by a bald eagle sitting in the dead pine tree 25 feet away, waiting to plunge down and grab his own breakfast. Or a fox patrolling for mice. Or a herd of white tail deer browsing saplings and tender spring shoots.

“You won’t be anxious if you can’t work tomorrow morning?”

Translation: You won’t be annoyed if I sleep in and we get a late start? Now we were getting to the crux of it.

“No problem. I’m okay with missing a morning’s work while we drive down in exchange for some tennis this afternoon and another relaxing night here. But let’s make sure we get up early and leave on time, okay? I don’t want to miss a whole day’s work because we got a late start.”

This was a familiar conversation. We always craved more time at Rock Harbor and always found it hard to leave. The Champlain Valley effect. It kicked in each time we drove up, right after passing the last Lake George exit on Route 87. It felt like the first few deep breaths after a good visit to the chiropractor. Maybe it was the clean air or the spectacular views. Or the absence of traffic. Or the anticipation of a slower rhythm.

We agreed to postpone our departure, and I unpacked the car while Susan cleaned up from lunch. A couple of phone calls and a change of clothes later we headed up to the tennis court to burn off the tuna melts and Doritos.

Rosslyn for Sale

In Adirondacks, Boathouse, Historic Essex, House, Lake Champlain, Memoir, What's Rosslyn?, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on May 16, 2011 at 11:16 am
Rosslyn for sale, November 2004

Rosslyn for sale (photo credit Jason McNulty)

Susan and I were driving back to Rock Harbor after visiting Rosslyn, an early 19th century home in Essex, New York, which our realtor had just shown us for the second time in several months.

It was spring. At least a dozen sailboats speckled Whallons Bay as we wound south along the edge of Lake Champlain. Small white caps, light wind, bluebird skies above. Two fishing boats trawled between the beach and Split Rock where a glimpse of Vermont was visible within the cleft.

We veered away from the lake and up Couchey Hill toward one of the most picturesque views of in the Champlain Valley. Hurricane, Giant, Dix and the Jay Range were silhouetted against cloud specked blue skies to the east. An undulating patchwork quilt of hayfields and tree lines stretched to blue green foothills clumped against the Adirondack Mountains.

Half an hour can vanish in a single breath while watching a sunny day expire here. Even at midday the view is an open-ended invitation to linger.

But with minds and mouths racing, we did not even slow down on our way back to Rock Harbor. We were sorting engagements, worrying over deadlines and synchronizing schedules for the week ahead. After a quick lunch, we would drive back to Manhattan. Although the trip could be as quick as five hours, Sunday afternoons were typically slower with increased traffic around Albany and returning weekenders adding to the congestion.

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