- Alison and son Theo at Palmer's Sugarhouse last maple season
Time for a confession. Before I moved to Vermont 16 years ago, I'd never been to a sugarhouse. Now, my family's mud season isn't complete without a pilgrimage to Palmer's Sugarhouse in Shelburne. In March and April, the family-run sugarhouse — along with many other maple syrup producers around the state — opens its doors to visitors with music, sap boiling demos and food. Lots and lots of food. I'm particularly fond of Palmer's version of spicy-sweet chili, finished off with maple syrup. They also turn out maple hot dogs, maple-glazed cashews and the slightly odd, but quintessentially Vermont, combination of a donut, a dill pickle and ooey-gooey sugar-on-snow.
March can feel like a bit of a slog in Vermont. Events like Maple Open House Weekend (March 21-22 this year; see our events calendar on page 41 for details!) make it a bit easier to get through the last chapter of winter.
In this month's issue, we have a wide range of interesting articles that will also help you pass the muddy days. If proficiency-based learning has you scratching your head, check out a deep dive into the topic. In "Taking the Pulse of Proficiency," you'll learn about what the educational model entails and why it is being implemented in Vermont. It's a good starting point if the term "proficiency-based learning" has you scratching your head. And check out "Raising the Bar," a profile of Green Mountain Training Center's Stefan Hruska. The 75-year-old gymnastics coach has had a long and fascinating career coaching elite gymnasts in both his native Czechoslovakia and in Vermont.
In "Pop Culture," Keegan Albaugh writes about changing tables in men's restrooms (or the lack thereof). In "Growing Up Green," Meredith Bay-Tyack explains how to create a capsule wardrobe for your kids. And in "Good Nature," a new outdoors column from regular contributor and environmental science instructor Heather Fitzgerald, discover three wild and interesting places to explore the shores of Lake Champlain.
Dreaming of summer? Check out our camp section to peruse a wide assortment of summer programs, and read about Get Thee to the Funnery, a long-running and imaginative summer camp founded by actor and author Peter Gould.
Finally, I'd like to bid adieu to Brooke Bousquet who, for the past seven years, has helmed the art department of Kids Vermont. Brooke has been responsible for the creative covers, engaging graphics and cool style that make our publication stand out on the newsstands. She's also a badass mom of two boys and an all-around lovely human being. We'll miss her tons.