There are certain books that every Vermonter should have on their bookshelf.
Sure, you want Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s “Vermont Tradition: The Biography of an Outlook on Life” and George Aiken’s “Speaking from Vermont.” You need some essays by Noel Perrin. Of course, you need some Howard Frank Mosher tales from the Kingdom, and some poetry from his neighbor and friend Leland Kinsey. If you are into images, there are photographs by Peter Miller, or prints by Sabra Field.
Since its days as a republic forward, Vermont has produced prolific writers and artists. It has inspired so many more. But there is one theme that carries through every book that hails from our little state: a sense of place.
Vermont is unique in so many beautiful ways, be it the landscape, the seasons, the people, or the politics. It is quaint and unique, and yet as tight-knit as could be. Vermont really is, as the adage goes, “a really small town.”
What is unique to Vermont’s sense of place, though, has been captured in a new book that really must be added to any Vermonters’ book collection or coffee table. “Vermont Almanac” is a gem. It is subtitled, “Stories From & For The Land | Volume I,” however, it is much more than that.
Almanacs have a long history in Vermont. Farmers used to depend on them for information from the previous year. For decades, there were several vying to be the one and only. And, of course, there is the Old Farmer’s Almanac that still is a popular prognosticator of winter snowfalls and other weather events, as well as a host of other information and anecdotes.
The Vermont Almanac is a beautiful compilation. It is breathtaking in its depth of advice and information. It is, in effect, How to Vermont. Broken down by month, it has something for everyone who loves the state.
At 288 pages, it is not something that’s going to get lost in the pile of bills. It’s got heft.
By its creators’ own admission: “The Almanac is organized by month, and provides a year’s worth of stories, data, illustrations and photography. Each beautifully bound edition records the prior year’s weather, trends in agriculture, changes in the forest, and developments in the rural economy. In this sense, Vermont Almanac frames time: when you’re wondering what year the forest tent caterpillar infestation was, or if deer season 2020 was the snowy one or the mild one, you’ll have a record to consult.
But each volume does more than look back; it also introduces readers to the people who inspire hope for the future of the land we all share. The farmers, loggers, conservationists, homesteaders, scientists, hunters — in short, the ‘doers’ — who are preserving and pioneering a rural way of life in an increasingly urbanized culture.”
They go on: “Our goal is for Vermont Almanac to bring together the many individuals and organizations in Vermont whose mission and purpose falls within the land ethic we live by — one that combines economic vitality with environmental stewardship and the values of rural life. We believe that Vermont Almanac is a publication that could (and should) have existed a century ago. We’re proud to have brought the concept to life for those living and working in Vermont today.”
It is truly a gift to Vermonters.
Need to know how to make a balsam wreath? Got it.
Need to bone up on Vermont’s seed law? Now, you can.
Tips for bringing your first sheep flock home. (Fencing is going to be clutch.)
Ever wonder how to get unstuck from a sap tank? Well …
While it sounds eclectic, there is a flow to the almanac that points to those little things that matter to all of us who live here and appreciate the many gifts that Vermont has to offer.
And what really makes this collection special is that as you are introduced to its various contributors and subjects, you are going to recognize neighbors and friends. You are going to spot places you know, and maybe even views from your road.
At this moment, we need a sense of place. For the Land Publishing and the team at Vermont Almanac have given us the collection of love letters we needed to fall for Vermont all over again.
And the best part, there will be a volume two. Add them to the shelf.