December 7, 2010
In my wisdom, I left my gloves in my apartment back in Manhattan. The biting cold assaulted my hands as I walked down the gravel road tenderly clutching my camera. Ten minutes earlier, the sun’s light had cut through large windows on the converted barn and awoken me, cocooned on the couch. Afraid of disturbing the other sleeping twenty-somethings and excited to explore my foreign surroundings, I dressed quickly and headed to the door.
Sleeping by the door, the family Golden Retriever jumped to his feet and eagerly shook his tail. Without hesitation, I held the door open and followed his bounds out into the early Vermont morning.
The night before, I had packed my things into a rented Penske truck and left my beloved coastal Maine, heading south on 95 towards the rolling hills and farmland of Vermont. Arriving late under the cover of darkness, the bright stars of the moonless light illuminated the silhouettes of barns and the impenetrable darkness of the Vermont woods. When I took a wrong turn on the three-mile dirt road leading to the Durkin farm, a friendly Vermonter, and proud owner of the Dodge Power Wagon pictured in this post, gave me directions better than any iPhone and sent me on my way.
Following the syrup lines, I walked down the road towards a large field, once used by local dairy farmers. In the distance, wisps of smokes emerged from the stone chimney of a 200 year old farm house, signaling the start of the day.
The sun broke the levee of darkness, casting its first shadows of the short November day. Enjoying the early light, I wondered for another twenty minutes before heading back to warm my hands and toes by the fire.
As I arrived back at the farm, the first snowflakes of the day’s flurries rode the light winds.
Ian and Barkley standing guard.
Heating with wood.
Skis of yesterday.
Snow fell for the rest of the day, gaining from distant flurries to a relative whiteout. Periodic, under-prepared adventures in the snow made stretching out next to the fire on a couch that much more enjoyable. Delayed by the weather, I stayed around for an extra day. Do you blame me?
October 27, 2009
Dan Freeman’s Leatherworks
Dan Freeman learned to make shoes over thirty years ago in New Orleans. Now he practices his art in a small shop off of Route 7 in Middlebury, Vermont.
Dan custom makes all types of shoes including dress, sneakers and boat shoes but is best known for his equestrian and hiking boots. For every shoe, Dan creates a custom form modeled after the foot of a customer. Dan keeps all of these customers’ forms in the back for future use.
Dan requires customers to make multiple sizing visits to his workspace in Middlebury, and ohh yahh, they cost $1,800.
Day Hikers. Dan uses Vibram soles for all of his rubber soled shoes.
Forms for Equestrian boots and a pair of his early work.
A view of Dan’s shop and his apprentice.
Dan makes these labels himself.
I loved these sandals. Very simple, high quality and 1/10 the price of the Day Hikers.
I love the simplicity of the design. These will last forever.
If I ever have the money to purchase a pair of $2,000 custom made shoes, I will certainly support a shoemaker like Dan Freeman. His trade represents the last of a long tradition craftsman who learn by apprenticeship, not a $50,000 a year college or an online course. Dan doesn’t have a website and does all of his business out of his workspace. Customers fly to Vermont from all over the US to have Dan make their shoes. After spending twenty minutes in his store I can see why.
September 16, 2009
Sunset on Lake Champlain
A few weeks ago, I spent a night on the shores of Lake Champlain near Milton, Vermont. Nestled between upstate New York and Northern Vermont, the Lake Champlain region houses many former Massholes and New Yorkers in addition to its own sea creature, Champ.
A picture of yours truly manning the Weber for two and fiddling with my Ricoh AF-5.
Emma manning the Weber and rocking her new APC’s.
Another angle. The Adirondacks are visible in the background.
After spending a summer in New York, where buildings and smog obstruct all sunsets, I have a new-found respect and appreciation for taking time, grilling some meats and watching the sun sink behind the horizon.
Here are some more links,
Sunset on Lake Champlain (Picasa).
September 9, 2009
Last week, I drove from Waterville to Middlebury to drop off Edge’s car. Both ways I drove on US Route 2 through the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, The Greatwoods Region of New Hampshire and Western Maine.
Route 2 is a prime moose zone.
Along the way we stopped and played in the Connecticut River.
Half of these images were taken with my Canon 5d Mark II and the other half with a 5 dollar Ricoh AF-5 from Goodwill. Can you tell the difference?
I like logs more than blogs.
Rock hopping on the shore of the Connecticut River.
US Route 2 does not feel like the numerous Volvo station wagons, Red Sox hats, twenty minute suburban commutes to Boston, and feverish obsessions with selective high schools that defines the New England stereotype. Route 2 feels more like a Pacific Northwest logging road with dirt sections skirting the shadows of remote mountains than a New England thoroughfare connecting the ski areas of Vermont to Vacation Land. But that’s why I like it so much; it is unexpectedly rugged yet rooted in heritage and tradition.