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It’s no wonder I like color. Growing up in the North Country, where muted shades of grey and white define the landscape for more than half the year, I’ve always been drawn to anything vibrant. From the time I was two years old and found the blue neck of a Phillips Milk of Magnesia bottle leaking from the bank of a stream my father and I fished, anything brightly colored in the wild, particularly birds, has caught my eye. The red comb on a pileated woodpecker’s head. The iridescent blue on a hen mallard’s wing. The emerald flash of a...

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He put up with no foolishness and made that plain from the start. The work was hard, though there was never any acknowledgement of that. To admit it, to as much as tip your hat to the strenuous nature of a day in the field, was the first baby step toward giving up, and that, like allowing the red paint on the barn roof to go more than three years without a fresh coat, was unconscionable. Most of us boys in town worked for him, "bucking" bales during the summer. He'd hire us for a fair wage for the times,...

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I'm waiting on the edge of a frost-laden pasture for the naked cottonwood to appear in better definition against the dawn sky. It's a hulking tree with over one hundred and fifty years under its belt, sporting fissured bark and roots which guzzle 500 gallons of water a day during the summer. It's dormant now, a frozen sentinel that's stood guard over both pioneers on horseback and photographers with digital cameras and iPhones. I look at an app on mine, positioning the tree between me and where it predicts the sun to rise in about 45 minutes. Overhead, I can...

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Nearly half a century ago, when I was a young boy in Northern Vermont, and Cyber Monday was as far off as any notion I had of the world being larger than the Northeast Kingdom, winter wasn't marked by any equinoctial event or particular day on the calendar. For us, and many other families scratching out a living along the Canadian Border, we heralded winter by cutting a Christmas tree. The Thanksgiving meal had been eaten, deer season, with its reverberating rifle shots and town talk of who had gotten their buck, had ended, and often Nature had covered the...

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"I'm going home," I told the woman sitting next to me on the plane in Billings, Montana, when she asked where I was headed. "Northern Vermont," I added, and then, because I've never been much for conversation, pulled the brim of my hat down and leaned back into my seat as we taxied toward the runway. A Starbucks mocha, loaded to the gills with extra shots of espresso, ensured that sleep was many hours off, but I closed my eyes and thought about it. Where I was going, and what it meant to me. Easy enough to chalk it up...

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