Suzanne Lupien: Of the Earth

Suzanne Lupien was a member of the Norwich Selectboard

You can tell when you shake Suzanne Lupien’s hand that she’s a farmer. Strong and firm, that hand has been working. Now 60, Suzanne is beginning again on new land, in Vershire, leaving Norwich with great sadness, as she writes in her essay. She moved here as a small child when her father, Tony, became basketball and baseball coach at Dartmouth. She’s lived in other places—various towns in Europe and the US as she’s pursued artistic training and practice, a farm in Oregon—but she’s always wanted to put down roots in one spot. “You plant an orchard when you’re ten years old,” she says, “so you can grow with your trees.”

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Instead of college, Suzanne apprenticed with a Bauhaus-trained potter in California for six summers. She made pottery for 20 years, and also trained in bronze-casting in the Netherlands, where she worked on the reproduction of the famous Marcus Aurelius equestrian statue, which is almost 14 feet high. In exchange for work, she could get her own pieces cast.

Like all long-time residents in town, Suzanne has seen many changes. “In the ’60s, every possible socio-economic level was represented in town,” she says. “You could throw hay bales one day and have tea with the chancellor the next.”

Baking bread in the Norwich Community Oven

Many in town have enjoyed the bread Suzanne made in the wood-fired oven she ran for many years. “It’s physically very demanding,” she notes. “I made 200 loaves a day. I bet I made 35,000 loaves at that oven over the years. I had one experience after another at that oven, making connections. One time a seven-year-old boy came and I gave him the match to light the fire. I told him, ‘You are part of making all this bread, because you lit the fire.’”

Suzanne also served on the Selectboard for about four years. “It was murder—a continuous challenge,” she recalls. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat, but not here. I kept trying to remind people we’re all in it together. I was on the board with Alison May, and we couldn’t have been more different. I said we should do something fun together, and she went along with it. With Joyce Child, we performed Gilbert and Sullivan’s Three Little Maids from School. But then some people hated me, because I’d worked with Alison.” Her sadness at such foolishness shows in her voice, as she proposes what she wishes more people could feel and act on: “The interconnectedness of everything makes life worth living.”


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