David Rocchio

David Rocchio

The last of the tomatoes are eaten or frozen into sauce. The garlic is planted and the garden ready for spring. The hammock and all the other yard furniture is put up just in time for snow.

This is the season to close things down, and that is not limited to gardens and lawn furniture.

The road crews are, I expect, done for the season, if not this week then very soon, working frantically to button up projects from Waterbury to Morrisville and beyond. I’m sure we’re all ready for the projects to hibernate. We won’t miss waiting in long lines of cars with nothing to do but act like we’re not texting.

To the road crews: May your winters be full of indoor work free of roaring diesels and shouting motorists.

It’d also be good to put the continuing saga of Lamoille South into the root cellar. The drama of secondary education policy in Vermont provides heat but no light for the dark months. It amazes me how much energy can be wasted with passion.

Much more could be achieved if full focus was on giving schools what they need to succeed in our 21st-century world. It is a shame about both the shenanigans at the supervisory level and, now that there is a broader pool of students to care for, the folding of local efforts to raise money.

What’s socialism?

Speaking of politics, my heart goes out to Bernie. I remember Bernie campaigning at UVM — in the stairwell of the old Billings Student Center — when he first ran for mayor. I was an undergrad, and every time I walked those stairs, there he was, shaking hands, engaged in conversation, looking wired and mad with his Einstein hair. He was working it, had something to say, and took the job as seriously as, sorry, a heart attack. It was clear to me he would win. He won by 12 votes. No one should underestimate the senator.

This past summer, I was interviewed about Bernie for a Danish newspaper. They chose me because of our documentary on guns in America (in it, one of the employees talks about Bernie) and because I am a Vermonter. The reporter asked why our brave state supports an idiosyncratic senator who is also an avowed socialist. I don’t know, but like any good interviewee, I blurted out it’s because he is heartfelt, people feel they know him, it’s nice to have someone noteworthy in your ring, and we trust him.

I also pointed out how ridiculous it is to tar people for being “socialist.” Everything flowing out of Washington — from farm subsidies to fighter jets — is socialism. Locally, I know a lot of deeply conservative people saw nothing wrong with publicly financing an expensive hockey rink. I did not support the rink, but I get why a government might reach out to make such a benefit possible. The fight isn’t whether we share resources, but with whom and how we share them.

Bernie’s argument rings pretty true today: If you are not on the top rungs in America, you are screwed and have no power. And Bernie was saying exactly the same thing in that stairwell in Billings in 1981.

Like Churchill singing one tune for 20 years until proven right, maybe it is exactly the right time for someone to come in and rebalance the scales a bit. I would love to have an honest old crank at the helm as opposed to a dishonest, misogynistic, corrupt, deceitful and addled old crank. I hope the senator stays in the fray, stents and all. Maybe lay off the Ben & Jerry’s.

The Bear Brothers

As the weather closes in, we do hunker down, but we still pay attention to each other. When something happens to someone, we rally to the cause. I was fortunate to be on the Mount Mansfield Ski Patrol for a long, long time with the Bear Brothers. Randy and Bob Sponem come from the heartland (Wisconsin) and moved to Vermont back when people who skied every day were ski bums, not retired finance guys. I think Randy came up with the MMSP motto, “Mt. Mansfield Ski Patrol: Too Proud to Work, Too Lazy to Steal.” Best bumper sticker I ever had.

Randy was neither proud nor lazy nor afraid of work. And if you skied at Stowe in the ’80s or the ’90s, Randy Sponem made you safe even if you did not know it.

The brothers moved away, to Oklahoma, but are still here in many hearts. Troubles hit them, as Josh O’Gorman wrote in the Stowe Reporter a few weeks back. Randy’s had a stroke and his wife recently passed away. Bobby Bear is living nearby to help Randy recover from this double blow, and, simply put, they don’t have the resources needed to cover medical costs and rehab.

You can give to the cause via the Bear Brothers GoFundMe page, which is here: bit.ly/support thebears. The Sunset is hosting a fundraiser too on Nov. 12, I believe. The organizers are looking for silent auction donations and a band to donate time to perform. You can learn more about the fundraiser and how to help by contacting Patrol Alum Nancy Dumont. Her email is nancyjdumont@gmail.com.

The best thing about being holed up in Vermont is we know each other here, even if we don’t. We don’t take each other for granted. We lend a hand when one is needed, which is the best way to stay warm through the cold winter to come.


David M. Rocchio lives, works and writes in Stowe. Email letters to news@stowereporter.com.

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