Freshwater mussels are not exactly charismatic. They don’t flit gracefully about like a Karner blue butterfly, or munch on clover like a cottontail. They aren’t known for their sweet songs like a wood thrush, and they don’t close down traffic on the first rainy night of spring like spotted s…

I don’t know how the mosquitoes know, but they do know. They know that whenever a motorized vehicle, radiating carbon dioxide and heat (among their favorite attractors) pulls up to the steel gate at the entrance to the Dartmouth College Grant, smack in the middle of a large cold-water swamp,…

Part of it is loving the sound of Helga’s left rear tire on the road just behind my elbow; another part of it is the muffled restraint of a German exhaust; a third part is feeling the wind ruffling my hair; and a large part is gratitude that I still have hair to ruffle. The impulse to go is …

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I’ve never subscribed to the old saying that “Children should be seen and not heard.” So it shouldn’t surprise you that I don’t insist that all the flowers in my garden stay in place each year, and that those that do wander are not necessarily disciplined with a weeding tool. No, I recognize…

On early summer nights, I sometimes see large, pale green moths with long, twisted tails fluttering near our porch light. Later, I often find them dead on the ground. These beautiful moths are luna moths, named for the Roman goddess of the moon. Each of their four wings has a transparent, mo…

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Lilac season is about over. For the last two weeks, I have enjoyed the amazing fragrance of “Miss Kim,” a species of lilac (Syringa patula) with light purple blossoms. It was sold to me some 25 years ago as a dwarf lilac, but it is not. It’s just slow-growing. Mine is now 10 feet tall and wi…

Lupine is one of the most spectacular flowers of early summer, painting long stretches of roadside with shades of purple and blue. Thanks to this tall, showy plant, even a stop-and-go drive to Boston’s Logan Airport has its moments of beauty (as I recently had occasion to observe). Full sun …

I was lucky to get the job. Fresh out of college with a bachelor’s in English, a wife and two kids, I was looking for something other than seasonal construction work for a change. Somebody mentioned an open teaching position in high school English in a town on the west shore of Lake Champlai…

At Mike’s Store and Deli in Hartland, customers can order up specialty sandwiches, warm meals, and food off the grill, plus a coffee or local craft beer or wine to round out the meal. But what customers don’t see is a compost bucket — two of them, actually, one in the store’s kitchen and the…

Every year, as Vermont’s black bears emerge hungry from their winter dens, we hear about our neighbors’ encounters. As the bears amble onto lawns to ransack bird feeders, compost piles and trash bins or — worse — attempt break-ins in homes and garages, we feel both surprised and in awe of na…

Over the course of 50 years, I went to the same hunting camp in the Adirondacks, up on a shoulder of Hopkins Mountain. The gang there possessed a wide range of talents and abilities, but one of them stood out to me because of his mechanical savvy. Charlie had been, among other things, an exo…

One afternoon last summer, my partner Rick called me out onto our deck to see a tiny hummingbird. Not just tiny, but the tiniest hummingbird he had ever seen. My curiosity piqued, I walked out and there it was — hovering in front of the bee balm, sipping nectar and beating its wings at an im…

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If you’re like me, by now you have your garden planted, both vegetables and flowers. It seems like a good time to take a deep breath, pour a cold glass of your favorite beverage and watch the flowers perform. I have set up chairs by my Japanese primroses for viewing, and have invited friends…

New York Route 149 West ends at a T-shaped intersection with U.S. 9 a little bit south of Lake George and its multiple tourist attractions. I was about a half-mile short of that spot after a pleasant, sun-soaked Saturday morning drive across Vermont, over the Green Mountains west of Killingt…

In one of my favorite movies, “Gettysburg,” there’s a scene in which Joshua Chamberlain, colonel of the 20th Maine and two days away from performing a prodigy of defense that will earn him the Congressional Medal of Honor, and his staff sergeant, Buster Kilrain, two days away from receiving …