News That Matters

Editorials / Dec. 9, 2004 12:00am EST

Just to prove that The Media (in Vermont, anyway) doesn’t spend all its time writing about disasters, there were three delightful stories in the pages of last week’s newspapers. These were tales of people who will never trod the world’s stage but who nevertheless expanded the lives of others. They did it through communication—sometimes in words, sometimes in music—of the deep truths that teach us what it is like to be truly human.

Here they are:

• A St. Johnsbury farmer who, while milking his herd, writes poems and a continuing story about a talking bear. This was a lovely story by Times Argus reporter Carla Occaso, focusing on a labor of love in publishing the poems of the late Herbert Elliott. Elliott’s daughter, Sandy Elliott Ebbet , who compiled the book, said her father composed many of the graceful poems while milking cows. When his children were in the barn, he would also make up installments of the talking bear story.

• A graduate of a one-room school in South Albany spends a month in Tanzania to capture in poetry the parallel life of his cousin and childhood friend. The Sunday Free Press, in a story by Sally Pollack, explained what drove poet Leland Kinsey of Barton to spend a month in the African country, where he took voluminous notes of his impressions, now published in a book, "In the Rain Shadow."

• An 18-year-old fiddler wanders into the studio of a Waterbury radio station and eventually becomes part of a dual legend that includes both himself and the radio station which gave him a hearing. The story of Don Fields and his Pony Boys, together with his early connection with WDEV, has received loving treatment from Mark Greenberg of Montpelier, who created a CD of Pony Boys music and a booklet telling of Fields’ remarkable career. The CD release was given top-drawer treatment in the Friday Times Argus by music correspondent Will Lindner (a fine musician himself).

Our thanks to those three writers and to the newspapers that gave them space to write about people and events that, though not "news" in the usual sense, have their own importance and urgency.

Parenthetically, our continuing thanks also to the Valley News, which regularly gives highly intelligent attention to such matters. One of their best contributors, Nardi Reeder Campion has a new book of memoirs out (her seventh), that’s in Cover to Cover Bookshop, and their sharp cultural critic Bill Craig just checked in with a gutsy review critical of an exhibit at the Hood Museum at Dartmouth.

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