Arts, Mar/Apr 2017, Outdoors, Shopping

Sights and locales to lift the winter spirit

Glass Blowing
Randi Solin shapes a glass sculpture at her Brattleboro, Vt., studio. Some people visit just to feel the heat from the open furnace. The studio features two rows of movie theater seats just for visitors. Photo: Liza Wyman

By Larry Parnass

Looking for ways to climb out of that winter rut? Here are a few additional thoughts gathered from visits with winter survivors in Southern Vermont: Stare into a glassblower’s furnace.

That’s what people come to do at the Fire Arts Vermont gallery in Brattleboro (formerly Fulcrum Arts), taking seats inside the studio door to watch Randi F. Solin create her glass sculptures. Liza Wyman, who runs social media for the artist, said Solin is generally at work Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the 485 West River Road business, with a break for lunch. If it’s winter cold that’s causing despair, the glassblowing studio offers both light and heat — all free to visitors. “It’s about a million degrees in here,” Wyman said. Recently, a couple from Connecticut came and watched Solin for more than two hours, through the entire process of shaping a piece. Then they bought it. That part isn’t free.

Find your outdoor happy place.

For Diane Petrie of Guilford, one of those places is Grout Pond off the Stratton Arlington Road, southeast of Manchester. The pond is a popular southern Vermont cross-country skiing and snowshoe destination. “It’s a beautiful, serene area off the beaten path,” Petrie said. “There’s not shopping anywhere. You’re going to spend your time in nature. You definitely have to wear the right kind of gear.”

Look across 100 miles of New England, instead of just across the room.

An easy way for people in southern Vermont to do that is visit Hogback Mountain on Route 9 between Brattleboro and Wilmington. Petrie, a former dairy farmer, treasures the three-state view. While the overlook has mounted telescopes, the landscape doesn’t need enhancement. “It’s gorgeous up there. Breathtaking. It’s a gem.”

Savor the arrival of spring light.

For 17 years, Barry Bozetarnik has helped people stopping at the I-91 visitors center in Guilford, Vt., find interesting destinations in the state. Each year, as winter drags on, Bozetarnik waits for two things. No, one of them does not involve a groundhog’s shadow. His spirits lift when pitchers and catchers report to Major League Baseball’s spring training. “And the first day when the sunset is officially 5 o’clock or later. I watch it creep … the longer it stays light out the more likely I am to get things done.” That day came Jan. 29 in the Brattleboro area, when the sun set at 5 p.m. on the button. Bozetarnik adds, “I don’t have seasonal affective disorder. I don’t crawl into a cave, but I’m much happier when it stays light out.”

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