We’re Offering a List, and Checking it Twice….

Peter Crabtree

Fairdale Farms in the Snow, Bennington, Vt.

A moment of silence please for those among us who will sit down this holiday season to awkward conversations, prickly interrogations and unwelcome political jousting. Do we really need another round of Uncle Harry’s latest conspiracy theory gleaned from Facebook? And how many times in one year can Aunt Tilly ask when she’ll dance at your daughter’s wedding?

Despite the plethora of suggestions out there to guide us through the political and social minefield that is 2019, The Story Project is offering it’s own List. We begin by suggesting that everyone at the table or around the fireplace turn inward. Make the season a true family event. Here are five questions to help get you started:

• To Your Grandparents: How did you meet each other? Was it a long courtship? Did your parents pray for a wedding or beg you to break up?

• To Your Parents: What was the best-ever family vacation? What was the worst? How did you celebrate the holidays when you were young?

• To Your Siblings: What’s your favorite Christmas/Hanukkah/ holiday memory? And your funniest?

• To Your Kids: What traditions, favorite dishes included, do you most want our family to continue and to pass down to your children?

A few things to remember:

• Avoid yes or no answers by asking open-ended questions. For example, you met Grandpa in New York? How did that come about?

• A good interviewer gives the subject space and time to answer. Sit back, relax and let the stories wash over you.

• It’s about fun and tapping into family memories. If you ask heartfelt questions and listen deeply, you never know where the conversation will lead.

The Story Project team wishes you a holiday season full of memories and wonderful stories to tell.

Charles Graham, Christmas Eve. Image courtesy Clark Art Institute. clarkart.edu

A Snowy Evening

Robert Frost’s Stone House, Shaftsbury, Vermont (Courtesy Library of Congress)

Robert Frost moved to Shaftsbury, Vermont, in 1920, intending to establish an apple orchard. During his nearly two decades there, he wrote some of his best-known poems, including the iconic “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

In his honor, the Bennington Museum will mount a major exhibition next year, Robert Frost, At Present in Vermont, examining the poet’s life and work in the context of the landscape and culture of Bennington County.

In a prelude of sorts, the museum’s current exhibition, A Snowy Evening, features 31 regional artists responding to the poet’s work. Among them is Story Project co-founder Peter Crabtree, who contributed “After Frost: Do, Does, Did.”

After Frost: Do, Does, Did

Peter’s artist’s statement follows:

Did I really watch him on TV that January day in 1961 when John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, or was it later, in some grainy newsreel footage, that I first became aware of Robert Frost — stooped and white-haired, like some kindly grandfather — reciting from memory his poem “A Gift Outright” to mark the occasion? Either way, the impression that he had always been an even-keeled, mild old man would stick with me through high school and only be shaded somewhat by the mandatory reading of “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening.”

But in fact, a closer examination of the poems Frost wrote while living in South Shaftsbury reveals a person lashed by some dark inner weather. Read “The Need of Being Versed in Country Things,” “Spring Pools,” and “Acquainted with the Night” and you realize that impermanence was much on his mind and that the darkness must have followed him throughout his life.

And so this p­­­iece, “After Robert Frost: Do, Does, Did,” pays tribute to that man and his method. No one photograph could do justice to the way his poems work — building image upon image — or the passage of time, or Frost’s clear-eyed, unsentimental observation of the way we live as part of, rather than apart from, nature.

— Peter Crabtree

Robert Frost in 1959 (Courtesy Library of Congress)

A Snowy Evening runs through Dec. 30, although a closed-bid auction for the works in the exhibit ends Dec. 22 at 4 pm.  (The winning bid will be split, with half the proceeds going to the artist and the remainder to the museum.) For more information about the event and to see the other works in the show, please visit http://bit.ly/snowyevening