Posts Tagged ‘Bristol’

happy 4th (and outhouse races)

July 8, 2009
the annual Bristol outhouse races: go, go, GO!!!

The annual Bristol outhouse races: go, go, GO!!!

Catching up on a few non-Montreal Jazz Fest things today. And that reminds me: what do you MEAN, fireworks, picnics and watermelon?

creator of the Cubber's Pizza outhouse, naming all of the morning regulars whose faces decorate the craft

Creator of the Cubber's Pizza outhouse, naming all of the morning regulars whose faces decorate the craft

In Bristol, Independence Day tradition means just one thing: the annual fury of the outhouse races, followed by an hour and a half long parade. But let’s get back to that first part for a moment: around an hour before the parade kicks off, Main Street is filled with homemade crafts of every decoration scheme (the tackier and more political, the better), often sponsored by local businesses.

Regardless of the externals, the basic construction doesn’t vary much. You need a rectangular upright open frame, made of something sturdy enough to withstand the inevitable sideswipes and crashes with all of the other careening toilettes-on-wheels. A theme is helpful but not necessary. You need a “sittee”, someone willing to sit on the can inside the outhouse, who’s not put off by a rough ride or an overturn or two along the way. And finally you need a few strong, fast folks to push the craft at top speed, more or less in a straight line, down the street. After those bare essentials it’s anybody’s game.

Tickets are sold, bets are made, and then it’s every can for him/herself.

the finish line - CAUTION.

The finish line - CAUTION.

I’d heard about it. Can’t live this close to Bristol without picking up on a few of the local legends. Lincoln Falls (which lives up to every bit of its legendary swimming hole status – oops, now I’ve spilled it!); Cubber’s Pizza (the best); the classy gourmet Bobcat Cafe; dearly departed Deer Run bookstore (I still miss it!); and the 4th of July outhouse races. There’s a lot more to know and discover about Bristol, but those few things are a pretty good jumping off point.

Several heats, a high-speed wreck into the sidelines (that would be the Eagle, 104.9FM’s wayward outhouse – no injuries thank goodness) and a rainshower later, the winner was announced: it was very close, rolling into the finish line – but Snaps restaurant (home of the succulent Snappy cinnamon bun) had pulled into the lead by…a head.

Persian springtime

March 19, 2009

Red-wing blackbirds are making their way back into the area. This morning along Hinesburg Hollow Road I noticed the sentry’s first appearance, a lone cloaked figure waiting atop the golden tufts of roadside catttail. Seemed early (especially for the coinciding return of the mosquitos and other seasonal insects that feed these birds), but then I think of that New England saying about the annual show of autumn foliage: “whenever it gets here, it’s right on time.”  Patience…patience.

Cold or warm, birds or no birds, in a definitive downbeat for spring the vernal equinox arrives tomorrow morning at 7:44AM EDT. And with it, the start of the Persian New Year, the annual “Naw Ruz” festivities.

2009-mar15-iranflierLast Sunday, Bristol’s Holley Hall hosted “Iran Revealed“, a program sponsored by the One World Library Project. Around a hundred guests filled the space in a special celebration of the Persian holidays welcoming the onset of springtime.

The afternoon melted away in the fragrant grasp of jasmine tea, sweetly perfumed rosewater and cardamom candies, and the warm hospitality of the local Samimi family as they shared poetry readings, family photos, and many varieties of personal insight to their long-lived culture.

The second half of the festivities began with a presentation by Steve Zind, a descendent of the Zand dynasty whose many visits to Iran (both personal and professional; each type of visit characterized by its own inherent benefits and setbacks) yielded a lifetime’s journey of beautiful photos, thoughtful observations, and rich stories.      

Naw Ruz, we learned, is a celebration originating with Persia’s native Zoroastrians around 2,500 years ago. These days it’s an occasion celebrated by all Iranians, regardless of faith: Muslims, Christians, Jews and Bahá’í all come together in the 13 days of the festival’s activities. It’s a time to visit with families and friends, share traditional foods including apples (for health) and garlic (representing healing, or medicines), eggs (for fertility – it IS springtime!) and prepare the mind and spirit for the New Year. 2009-mar15-irancelebinbristol07

On the last Wednesday night before the equinox, the darkness is filled with blazing outdoor fires that celebrate the last days of winter in a joyful musical party. Zoroastrianism is, after all, a faith built around the power of earthly elements.

I thought about all of this last night, the Weds. night before the equinox, as I was driving home through the countryside – the half moon shone above and I imagined golden bursts of Naw Ruz fires punctuating the blue hill silhouettes. Not surprised to see that there were none. Unlike Iran right now, the reality of late March in Vermont is nighttime temperatures that still peak in the single numbers and teens. 

On the final day of the festival (12th day after the equinox) the celebration comes to an end in a huge outdoor picnic – with (need I mention?) more live music, singing and dancing. As the picnic closes everyone gathers with the small vases or containers of grass they’ve been growing on windowsills – wheatgrass, or lentil or mung bean – and ties the grassblades into loose knots, in the hope for good luck in the coming season and year.  

And so, grass knotted, family and friends visited, ancestors remembered and New Year’s hopes secured – Naw Ruz ends and Persians welcome the new season. As do we all – happy springtime!

From the inside of the event’s program, this verse by the 14th c. poet Hafiz:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This Sky



Where We Live 

Is no place to lose your wings.

So love, love, 


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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