I might not be mentioning lunch if it had not been for the fig jam-smeared flatbread covered with prosciutto, fresh spinach, parmesan, and walnuts half the size of your thumb. In the midst of holiday hubbub, en route to the northern Northeast Kingdom, I found myself in Dylan’s Café in St. Johnsbury. While it is art—food for the soul--that nestles and waits to be discovered in St. Johnsbury, I would be remiss if I failed to comment on the hip new café. Located in the (barely) refurbished old post office on Eastern Avenue, it was serving up stupendous salads, soups, burgers and a few flatbreads, on Vermont-plain wooden tables.
With lunch began my unintended immersion in local art. Catamount Arts Center uses the café’s walls as a local art gallery. There were numerous paintings ranging in size and price, from an out-there portrait of worn tennis shoes to typical still-lifes. The tiny winged pig that hung above our table worked its way into my heart before I had finished my lunch. But payment must be made for the artworks at the Arts Center, located next door. Down one set of awkwardly pitched stairs and up another, I discovered the winter line-up at the Catamount. There is the expected HD Metropolitan Opera, and several movies that you can probably find closer to home, although I have not seen Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict advertised anywhere in the Upper Valley. The big news is that Mummenschanz is coming to Fuller Hall at St. Johnsbury Academy on January 19. Certainly worth the drive north on I-91.
Are you a poet or would you like to be? Open to all who live or work in Vermont, St. Johnsbury is participating in PoemTown. The 2016 theme is Listen, original work only, no more than 24 lines, send to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is February 15.
And more. There is the incomparable Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, where every child revels in the Bug Art though I would prefer just about any other of the museum’s offerings. Time was short on this trip, and I had to resist a second visit to the famous Athenaeum, renown for its architecture, history, and that can-you-believe it 10’ by 15’ Bierstadt. It alone, with or without Dylan's flatbread, could make St. Johnsbury a worthy day trip destination.