I happen to be an avid poker player. I love the game. Every Friday night, I sit around a table with another six or seven men — a collection of good, hard-working characters — to play three Texas Hold ‘em tournaments. Poker, I believe, is very much like life — sometimes you win, sometimes you…

When my kids were toddlers, they discovered, quite happily, a toad in a damp corner of their sandbox, tucked into the shade beneath the small, triangular piece of wood that served as a seat. The toad seemed to spend most days there, probably waiting until dark to emerge and hunt bugs and slugs.

For decades, I’ve been planting spring-flowering bulbs. Some come back every year, some disappear after a few years, and some I treat as annuals. The result? Just when mud season is about to swallow me whole, I am rewarded with flowers to enjoy outdoors — and indoors in a vase. Now is the ti…

Our national holidays’ names tend to change as society changes. What was once Decoration Day — the day on which surviving family members groomed and flowered the graves of their deceased military loved ones — is now simply Memorial Day. Columbus Day has begun a slow and tortured transition t…

National Take Back Day is Saturday, Oct. 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. We are asking for everyone’s participation. Please bring your unused or expired prescription medications to the prescription drug drop locations throughout the Rutland County area.

Now is the time to buy garlic for planting — unless you have some from your own garden that you saved for that purpose, as I do. You’ll want to get your garlic planted a month before the ground freezes, so depending on where you live, you may want to plant some soon. Garlic needs to establis…

Turkey season has started, youth deer weekend is the first weekend in November, and Vermont’s ever-popular deer seasons are just around the corner, starting with the regular rifle season from Nov. 10 to Nov. 25, followed by bow-and-arrow and muzzleloader seasons from Dec. 1 to Dec. 9. While …

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I have been searching for this recipe for years. Early in my career, I worked with a girl who was originally from Ireland. Most weeks, she would make wheaten bread and bring it to the office with a stick of soft butter. I fell in love with it. It was so satisfying, a nubby whole-wheat quick …

Local food often conjures images of farm-to-table meals served at trendy restaurants in Vermont’s urban centers, or tables of fresh produce overflowing into the aisles of a community’s farmers market. While these are important parts of Vermont’s growing local-food movement, an important part…

As a boy, I was exploring the loft of my grandmother’s barn when I disturbed a bumblebee nest among the moldering hay bales. In my memory, I leap stuntman-like from the haymow and hit the ground 10 feet below running flat out, rounding the corner of the barn then glancing back to see if anyo…

Polydrug use is the combination of more than one drug, which is usually riskier than using a single drug. Mixing opioids with benzodiazepines (benzos) is a common, but deadly combination. More than 30 percent of opioid overdoses in the United States include benzos, according to the National …

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I’ve always liked the idea of a bike and barge trip. I imagined floating along narrow canals somewhere in Europe, getting off and riding to the nearest local bakery or café, then getting back on (with a bottle of inexpensive but good red wine in my bike basket) and reading peacefully on the …

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For many years I was in denial. Yes, I refused to accept that fall and winter were on the way by October. I didn’t start fall clean up until November, and by then it was cold, raw, often wet and unpleasant out. Now, having reached a certain age, I prefer to work when it is warm and sunny — s…

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Interior designer Abbe Fenimore knew that adding a kitchen island was one of the most important decisions she’d make in remodeling her 1940s-era home in Dallas. A well-designed kitchen island can offer storage space, a work surface, comfortable seating — even a cooktop or spare sink.

“In general, birds are not doing well in Vermont,” says John Buck, a wildlife biologist who specializes in migratory birds with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. Thirteen of the more than 200 species of birds that nest in or pass through the state are listed as endangered, meaning…

“What’s this shiny black beetle with four eyes?” asked Erin Hayes-Pontius, a visiting UVM student, from her microscope. Without glancing up from my own scope I answered, “That’s a whirligig beetle.” Erin’s answer came back: “err, cute … but what’s it really called?”

From downtown Oslo to its airport is just over 32 miles by road. It’s a 50-minute bus ride. But there are no low-flying planes landing or taking off above the city center. The electric commuter train that leaves from a large station right in the city center and then dives or zips through the…

Summer is over, officially, and the garden knows it. Tomatoes exist only in the kitchen, many flowers are looking lackluster and trees are losing their leaves. What’s a gardener to do? I buy color in the form of chrysanthemums and fall asters. And I enjoy wild asters that appear along the ro…

You and your 18-year-old friend go to a party. You didn’t know there would be alcohol present. You decide to stay since you both agreed not to drink. You’re having fun and losing track of time when suddenly you realize your friend has been drinking and doesn’t look so well. As your friend vo…

The northern watersnake, Nerodia sipedon, has a lot going against it in the eyes of most people. I’ve watched this medium- to large-sized snake clear a crowded lakeside beach in a matter of moments. As the local naturalist in my small town, I’ve become this snake’s self-appointed public defe…

With its vivid reds, oranges, and yellows, fall is an excellent time to take photos in Vermont. Throw in a classic red barn, picturesque stone wall, or a backdrop of mountains, and you’ve got an excellent reason to get behind a lens.

September is the month of getting ready for what is to come: Putting the firewood away in the woodshed. The snow blower must be readied for the snows that will surely come. The sand barrels must be filled. It is all about the coming winter and the challenges that the season brings.

Most folks who’ve enjoyed a dip in the local swimming hole — whether at a pond, lake, or river — have probably found, on occasion, a leech or two stuck to their skin while toweling off afterwards. Although some might think these slimy little suckers are gross, they mean — and do — no harm. T…

The church service was about to begin when some breathless kids pulled me out of my seat to “come see this awesome, pretty, pink-and-yellow, fuzzy baby moth!” on the Sunday school door. It was a rosy maple moth, Dryocampa rubicunda, notable for its dipped-in-sherbet coloring.

I usually hear the kingfisher before I see it. If I’m reading by the lake, its harsh, rattling call gets my attention. I look up to see the flashy blue-and-white bird fly to a new perch or hover over the water scanning for small fish and crayfish. If I’m kayaking, I try to follow it along th…

If you walk by a pond on a summer evening, you may hear the deep “jug-o-rum” of a bullfrog or the “tung” of a green frog, sounding like a plucked banjo string. Sometimes you’ll hear a whole chorus of frogs, the songs competing with each other for attention. The frogs are not singing for our …