The ramp follows a circuitous path on it's way from Secret Springfield, Vermont, to the tables of Boston, where it is served as a rare and wild treat - one that is more so because it is most delightfully and innocently subject to good old-fashioned seasonal availability, and not to be as commonly had as peaches from "afar" or grapes from Australia. It bears noting also that unlike the ramps dug by the ancient Egyptians, the latter day Vermonters dig their ramps in the chilled and well-watered flats during a short window of opportunity after Mud Season and before the general leafing-out.
In cold rains they arrive ready to hunt the elusive ramp, they search deep in the wild interior, in secluded places where wood nymphs can still have a dance or a ring, and it is here that they find the cold wet stony beds where they select and dig each perfect and succulent ramp - one by lovely one, as no machine performs this special harvest that the Vermonter knows by heart. Bent to the work for hours at a time, putting off the luxury of even a short break in the vehicle because of the enormity of the task that would certainly be the return to such hard work from any break out of the sleety rain, one perfect and succulent ramp after the other is dug free from the earth in it's turn, collected with the rest in the almost anachronous plastic bucket, all made ready for the finishing trim and sluice. Each ramp is it's own mini-ecology, a small world invariably presided over each by it's own now indignant worm, who must certainly support a yet smaller host of smaller and smaller creatures who depend on the largess of the "Great Ramp" in one primordial way or another - their entire culture and society soon to wash away with it's native sands, in a great deluge, in the fresh brook, in the dusk.
And then? A dark night ride North, to Central Vermont, to suffer there in the hands of strangers the commercial indignity of colder examination, weighing, trading, and riding once again with yet another set of strangers, finally South, to Boston, to a delicious end as suppers and dinners, perhaps even as tasty stews and chowders.
The ramp, rare and delicious onion of the Vermont Woodlands - it's yearly odyssey never fails to astound.
Illustration to follow.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
A New Traffic Control Light Tree Grows in Springfield, Vermont, Official Home of the Simpsons - Fancy News
Here comes more urban street furniture! Brand-spankin'-new automatic traffic lights are being installed in fully one third of the controlled intersections in town (there are all of three intersections that have the full complement of red, yellow and green traffic lights here in Springfield, Vermont, Official Home of the Simpsons).
Springfield's other finest, our fine road crews, are not participating in this excellent development, but rather "East Coast Signals" has been contracted by the city to make the changes, and the company is hard at work today at the intersection of Main and Summer streets, placing the nicely detailed black posts that will support the horizontal arms and array of twenty-first century automated traffic lights, all fitted into the smart black box filled with electronic wizardry on the corner (where the repairs from last years eminently avoidable fire proceeds apace). The new posts are a nice complement to the Victorian feel of the black street lamps, many of which survived the street repairs that began last year along Main Street.
Crowds gather to enjoy the fine Spring weather and watch the hub-bub.
Here, beside what should be a sufficiently obvious sign cautioning drivers to yield to pedestrians, one can see the nice match between the classical fluting of the street light and the corrugations of the shaft of the support for the traffic light - a structural detail that adds strength to the post as well as style.
Here an able technician from East Coast Signals seats the bolts.
Word is that there is a betting pool being formed even now, to see who will be first to go nuts listening to the incessant beeping (the audio signal is allegedly meant to be an assist to the visually impaired, but how it can be that such a monotonous repetition can help anyone distinguish the succession of changes from green to yellow and to red and back is anyone's guess) - luckily the rumored secret traffic cameras will very likely record that historic moment, as well as recording the occasional self-important driver running the lights! This should prove interesting, not only to the driver in the aforementioned yellow vehicle, but also to the one out of three out-of-state drivers who enjoy blasting through at full tilt.
Yes indeed, the town is fairly abuzz with excitement at the thought that finally there will be a more prominent effect of control at this very busy intersection, a favorite with scofflaws who seem to enjoy making illegal turns on red (like at least one local driver in their yellow vehicle), or who simply enjoy driving right straight through red lights with an entirely serene sense of entitlement and joy, scaring pedestrians, annoying other drivers, and otherwise contributing to unnecessary chaos, here in sunny downtown Springfield, Vermont, City of Lights.
Posted by Edward Huse at 10:04 AM
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Upon first motoring into town from the nearby highway exit, (exit 7 on interstate route 91), one passes by a construction site that is busy working away at an old-fashioned box cantilevered bridge of some basic Victorian industrial design, much like the many similar bridges that have been allowed to decay to the point where not much else can be done but to finish nature's job of reducing all things to mulch. Indeed, it is not that these structures were designed to last indefinitely, or even to be "beautiful", by the original designers, who were certainly motivated solely by profit and loss and immediate utility, but time having past, these old iron bridges are endowed by the later generations with qualities never intended, and as they pass into rust and scrap these bridges are regarded with admiration and awe and no small amount of nostalgia. So it is that the cynical stranger sees the activity about this survivor from a busier age, and imagines it's certain and imminent demise in accordance with some cold schedule.
However, if that stranger were to pass this work-site over and over again, thoughts might lead to wonder that the execution takes longer and takes more care than might be expected from a simple demolition, and a few questions of the locals will reveal the surprising possibility that this one bridge might be saved in fact, for future generations to marvel at, for just a little longer.
Appropriately, this bridge sits near a small visitor's center - comprised of Springfield's old one room school house, and another bridge, a similarly cantilevered covered wooden bridge (both saved many years ago from the wholesale demolitions that made way for the construction of the dam, on the site of the old Springfield).
The renovation of the old iron bridge to Paddock Road and Memory Lane is well along on it's way to completion. A cursory inspection by even the most casual observer shows that the road bed is nearly complete, and soon the grey heads will be able to cross, reminiscing about the may old friends and the vast tons of materiel of war and peace that ever crossed through these trusses in years gone by, and children will once again challenge gravity and the waters below with stringed hooks and daring feet that brave the mechanical heights of a powerful silent servant.
Posted by Edward Huse at 7:38 AM
Labels: bridge truss cantilever puente antiguo antique springfield vermont repair conservation history
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Today, Springfield, Vermont, the Official Home of the Simpsons, was also the Home of the Direct Vote, a time-honored tradition that unfortunately has elsewhere begun to fade away - overshadowed as it is by the higher profile of so-called "representative government" (a system that is rumored to suffer from direct manipulation, allegedly by such things as lobbying organizations and other predatory entities that are designed only to suck the wealth, energy, and very lifeblood of a community of free people, allegedly at the behest of a class or segment that feels entitled to do so, predatory entities that certainly lost no time in springing into being concurrently with the developement of the system known as "representative democracy", if in fact they were not the very designers and promoters of such a bold usurpation to begin with - or so they say, what say you, dear reader?).
The local school budget is being voted on today, and the citizenry is out in numbers to give each his or her yea or nay on the issues, all two of them, and befitting the moment of the occasion, members of the big city press were in attendance to witness and report - the "Rutland Herald" for example.
The voting was held in the Dressel Gymnasium at Riverside Middle School. Arriving at the school, one is first met in the drive by the group of teenagers who flag down passing motorists and show the way to the voting. Passing through the same school doors as the school kids, the voter might feel a strange sensation that could be written off as the remembering school days past, but the sensation might just as easily be like the sense of awe and wonder felt on entering a special place of sober ritual - not as a mere observer or interloper but as a participant. The walk continues, taking the voter down the hall and past a class in session full of people who will shortly inherit a strange new world, past the plaque that memorializes Mr. Dressel, and on to the court of the World Reknowned Cosmos, where the poling attendants have arranged the paperwork and procedures which comprise the voting experience.
In observing the exercise, it was interesting to see old friends or neighbors call out pleasant greetings to each other, some perhaps not having seen each other since the snows began last year. Many were white-headed, voters and poling attendants alike, but the crowd was overall a fair representation of all ages (both babies and elders were present) and of all voters in this small community of some five thousand registered voters, a healthy turnout to be sure.
It is as Yankee, as American, as it gets, to exercise the right and enjoy the privilege of the direct vote, to vote everyone on whatever local wrinkle that needs attention, and when the time comes to take advantage of modern communication technologies to finally have direct voting on more weighty or national questions, Springfield, Vermont, will be a clear and living example of the direct vote, very much the essence of true democracy in stark contrast to the shell game that would supplant it.
Posted by Edward Huse at 12:33 PM
Friday, April 10, 2009
Well, here it is, the event of the season in Springfield, Vermont, Official Home of the Simpsons .
A new poster has appeared about town advertising the 53rd Annual Apple Blossom Cotillion! The program is sponsored by the Springfield Hospital Foundation, and according to the poster "All proceeds will be used for college scholarships for health care careers.", good to hear, to be sure. The theme for the program is "A Legendary Night", and a legendary night it will be!
The occasion is already a success, in that it has also provided a worthy purpose for one of the many sad empty storefronts along the once bustling main thoroughfare in town. Considerable effort has gone into a very pleasing display of gowns that have been the highlights of Apple Blossom Cotillions from Apple Blossom Seasons gone by - the earliest gown is decidedly circa early Farrah Fawcett, and one wonders why no one saved for this display some of the earlier fashion plates.
The "Grand Performance" is slated for Saturday evening, May the second of the present year, mark it on your calendars and rush, don't walk, to your nearest vendor for your advance tickets, there is only so much room in the Dressel Gymnasium and an overflow crowd is expected to be on hand to see the crowning of the Apple Blossom Queen!
Peter Welch will be in attendance, and he will be there particularly to present a special award to Edgar May for his efforts on behalf of the Southern VT Health and Recreation Center.
Be there or be square!
Posted by Edward Huse at 8:57 AM
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Locks of Love is a program that helps kids deal with the ravages of the medical treatments they receive for rough diseases like cancer. Generous donors part with their long tresses, which are then woven by expert professionals into kidlet sized hairpieces that are then matched up as gifts with children who have lost their own locks. If you have ten or more inches of healthy hair of any color, curly or straight, and if you have ever wondered how you would look with a nice pixie or bob a la parisienne - consider to arrange the donation of your own Locks of Love. Visit www.locksoflove.org, or call your participating hair stylist or barber, or better yet just drop in at Julie's hair care establishment right in the center of downtown Springfield, Vermont - "Haircuts Just Around the Corner" (802.885.3300).
Posted by Edward Huse at 10:00 AM