Yesterday, a late afternoon walk in the fading daylight. Snow falling, settling in mossy crevices, the woods heavy with the fragrance of new-fallen snow, a full moon rising to brighten the night. In this dark season, finding light and comfort in the small things. Lighting candles to keep the darkness at bay. The urge to stay inside, cozy and warm, powerful. Short outings in the woods and on back-roads to breathe the fresh air, a necessity.
Sunday afternoon, a drive north to Bellows Falls, a village center in the town of Rockingham, Vermont. The landscape along Route 5 barren, with rows of naked, gnarly apple tree branches, and bare blueberry bushes. Orchards and farms, residential housing, glimpses of the Connecticut River snaking through the narrow valley. The historic downtown a latticework of river, canal, bridges and train tracks interwoven with raw nature and industrial scars. Historic Abenaki fishing grounds and petroglyphs, the former splendor of rushing rapids, now a thin stream, diverted for power and industry. Buildings of brick, stone and wood, with new uses as artist studios, restaurants and shops, evidence of a community working hard to revitalize the town center. A former mill town, the heritage of grandeur and industrial wealth tangible in both abandoned and in beautifully restored, re-purposed, buildings. A 1930’s diner on the register of historic places, a former early-morning eatery for factory workers on their way to work. A town-owned movie and live-performance theatre in the restored Bellows Falls Opera House. The town square a mix of empty and new shops, long-established businesses, and store-fronts for arts organizations promoting a rich menu of arts and culture. Along the canal, a modern visitor center, the site of a summer farmers market. Easily accessible by road or rail, with daily train service between Washington, DC and St. Albans, VT. Open for business on a chilly Sunday afternoon for local and indie holiday shopping, and a bite to eat – what’s not to love?