Saturday, September 01, 2012

A Daytrip with a (Re)purpose


All summer, I’ve been on a mission – which I’ve approached with great (secular) zeal – to repurpose stuff that’s been hanging around my house far too long. While I still have my physical and mental faculties, I want to de-clutter in a responsible, and even creative, way. So far, I’ve given my mandolin to a music camp, a chair that came from Ellen Emerson House and a mirror frame (no glass) to a friend who does whimsical furniture painting, a garden cart and a few tools to the new organic community garden near me, and a perfectly good (though hated by my cats) litter box to Dakin Animal Shelter. I’ve taken dead electronics to two recycling events, and two boxes of documents, including cancelled checks going back to 1976, to the Council on Aging’s shredding fundraiser. This week’s mission was to haul my old darkroom equipment out of my crawl space in the cellar and up to Brattleboro to donate it to the Vermont Center for Photography’s upcoming tag sale. So yesterday, I loaded up the Mini and headed north.


Brattleboro hasn’t changed much since the last time I was there, which must have been 10 years ago. The Common Ground, a worker-owned vegetarian restaurant upstairs on Elliot Street, has closed. I remember going there with a friend from grad school who ordered vegetable juice, and the look of horror on her face when a hippie handed her a frothy glass of liquid the color of beets. On Main Street, you can still find a proper hardware store, a big old post office, the Latchis hotel and theatre (a real movie house, which sadly Northampton doesn’t have any more). There are lots of little shops selling second-hand LPs, books, furniture and clothes. Tattoo parlors, a music store, various hippie/mystic emporiums, a few bars and non-chain coffee houses fill in the rest of Main, Elliot and High streets. What I’d forgotten is just how hilly and precipitous Brattleboro is. The buildings on the east side of Main are perched above the Connecticut River, with porches, decks and additions looking like they’ll topple into the river when the waters rise with the spring thaw. Every street to the west of Main heads uphill with an incline made for a goat. I cruised through a couple of stop signs for fear that the Mini would roll 20 feet backwards downhill, or that I’d pop the clutch and stall out. O, for the flat hills of my homeland! After dropping off the darkroom gear on the aptly-named (thank goodness!) Flat Street, I landed the Mini in a relatively hill-free parking space off the High Street.


A tasty lunch at the Blue Moose, plus use of their loo and free wi-fi, calmed my flatlander nerves. I headed downhill on foot, exploring various alleys off Main Street. I found a lot of graffiti and broken booze bottles down by the railroad tracks. Not great streetart by Shoreditch/Spitalfields standards, but a bit more interesting than the stuff I see in Northampton.


I ended the day with a stop the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, which I’m ashamed to say I’d never visited. They have a fab exhibition of Stephen Hannock’s paintings on right now. The museum is located in the lovely old train station.


The station itself is now just a waiting area next to the tracks.

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