The little village of Vernon, Vermont that houses Vermont Woods Studios is in the very southeastern corner of our state. It’s an entry point for monarch butterflies migrating North from their wintering grounds in Mexico. We’ve written earlier about the plight of the monarch and the fact that it’s on the brink of extinction due to the pervasive use of the herbicide RoundUp. But residents of Vernon are not inclined to sit idly by and watch this iconic butterfly disappear.
In June, a group of nature lovers got together on the back deck of Vermont Woods Studios and shared milkweed seeds and plants (milkweed is the monarch’s only food source and the use of RoundUp has nearly eliminated it from today’s landscape). We are planting milkweed in our gardens and backyards with the goal of providing habitat that will bring monarchs back to Vermont. If you’d like to join us please let me know. I have plenty of milkweed seeds and plants for anyone who would like to plant them.
Foster A Monarch Caterpillar
I also have 20 tiny little monarch caterpillars who are looking for foster parents willing to rear them. Would you like to be a foster parent for a monarch? Many of you will remember Carol Richardson who introduced Vernon’s kindergarteners to monarch rearing every Fall for many years. What a wonderful teacher she was! In those days Monarchs were abundant and Carol would bring several caterpillars into the classroom in late August/early September. The kids would watch them transform from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly over the span of a couple weeks.
That was only 15 years ago but now there are no caterpillars to be found. What nature invested 50 million years of evolution into, man has nearly wiped out in less than 2 decades. But there’s still hope! At Vermont Woods Studios we connected with Dr. Chip Taylor at the University of Kansas. Dr. Taylor has created MonarchWatch, an organization that’s dedicated to bringing the beautiful orange and black butterfly back from the brink of extinction.
Every now and then at Stonehurst (now our Vermont furniture showroom) we’re treated to a blast from the past. Our property dates back to the 1860s when it was a farmhouse and since then it’s had many and varied identities. From the 1940s to the 1960s Stonehurst was a local ski area with 3 rope tows. It was called Pine Top and every now and then we get special visitors who stop by to see how it’s changed and share their memories of family vacations here. Recently we had the pleasure of meeting Sigrid Oscarson who stopped by with her husband Bill Wares. I wanted to share Sigrid’s memories with those of you who remember Pine Top. Did you know Sigrid and her family?
A Visit from Sigrid Oscarson Wares
My husband and I visited with Peggy and Ken last Friday. They were gracious to show us Vermont Woods Studios, formerly known as Pine Top. I grew up in Vermont and spent many days skiing as well as celebrating holidays there. My Godparents, Elsie and Romey Racine were the owners. My father helped to maintain the rope tows very often using a combination of his well-honed automotive skills, true grit with sheer determination, and lots of prayer! It was always a work in progress.
“I came across this picture of me skiing at Pine Top. From these humble beginnings I have maintained a life-long love affair with this sport and even became a ski instructor for a period of time. Growing up in Vermont was a wonderful experience of which Pine Top was a very integral part. Looking at the ski garb makes me wonder how any of us survived the cold! Any one who skied there will tell you that they went through several pairs of mittens in one season due to the friction of the rope tow. We would all cram into the “Warming Hut” as it was affectionately called, to toast our frozen fingers and toes near the pot belly stove while munching on hamburgers or hot dogs with hot chocolate and brownies (made by my mother). It was truly a family effort.
Thank you for showing us the beautiful renovations you have performed on this most wonderful “home” that holds so many memories for me. Your organization is truly an excellent steward of the property and that warms my heart.”
We’re sending thanks out to everyone who gathered with us at Stonehurst this week to begin making Vernon, Vermont a Monarch Butterfly Way Station. If you’re interested in the environment and nature, please consider joining us in this fun project! You can learn more about our efforts to save the endangered monarch butterfly here.
Vernon has many master gardeners and butterfly enthusiasts! We shared some milkweed seedlings (the Monarch caterpillar’s only food source) and will begin planting them in our gardens and back yards. We’re also reaching out to the Vernon Elementary School VES, the recreation department and the roads commissioner, asking them to support the project by planting milkweed where appropriate on public land.
In August and September we will meet again when the Monarchs are laying their eggs and beginning their metamorphoses. Please contact us through our Facebook if you’re interested in joining our butterfly rescue project or starting one in your own town. It’s fun, and there’s wine. What more could you ask for?
While it might be hard to believe, winter is finally winding down here at Stonehurst. The snow is slowly melting, and some of our forest friends are starting to show their furry faces. Just yesterday, we saw this beautiful red fox frolic through the field in our backyard.
A pair of eastern bluebirds perched outside outside of my office window, enjoying the first real day of sunshine of the season.
And a chubby squirrel (a frequent visitor to the marketing office window) gorged himself on tasty bird seed.
We’ve seen plenty more forest critters getting ready for spring, and we’re getting ready too!
As you can see here, a wild Sales team member (Sean) anxiously awaits the warm weather! What about you? How are you preparing for spring? If you are planning on adding some natural Vermont charm to your home, a visit to Stonehurst might be a great first step. You’ll have plenty of inspiration from the birds and cute critters, and a friendly sales team to make your visit easy and enjoyable. Our beautiful, Vermont crafted wood furniture is made from premium solid hardwoods, sourced from sustainably harvested forests, much like the one right in our backyard!
Shopping at Stonehurst brings you closer to where your furniture really comes from. Visit us, and experience the beauty of Vermont wood, inside and out.
Nina’s been on a mission to create beautiful photos of our shaker and craftsman dining furniture for all you online shoppers out there. She’s been snapping pictures in historic buildings all over town, including our Stonehurst showroom, the Governor Hunt House, Malhana Farm, George’s Mill and even the Vernon Chapel.
Well, first we had to have that furniture crafted in studios and workshops around Vermont. And now that Nina’s finished taking photos, what are we going to do with all these tables & chairs & china cabinets? We don’t have a lot of extra room to store it, so we’ve put everything on sale!
So that’s a few of the Shaker and Craftsman style dining furniture pieces we’ve currently got in our showroom today. If you’re passing through Vermont to ski or visit friends, stop by and see us at Stonehurst. We’re on your way — just 6 miles off Interstate I 91, from the Bernardston exit # 28A. Stop by today, while everything’s on sale and take home the Vermont made dining furniture you’ve always dreamed of!