Deborah Lee Luskin


Deborah Lee Luskin is a writer, speaker and educator.

Deborah Luskin

On his ninety-second birthday just over a year ago, Dad announced, “This is my last birthday. No more.”

A friend told me where to find ramps along the West River. But even without directions, the smell of these pungent wild onions would have led me to where they grow between the river and the road.

When the poet T. S. Eliot wrote “April is the cruelest month,” I imagine he could have been thinking about death and taxes - because right after we finish filing our taxes, Americans have now set aside a day for planning our Advance Directives – known as National Healthcare Decision Day.

When I taught writing in Vermont prisons, I had to leave everything but my keys and teaching materials in my car.

Every year I’ve been Town Moderator, I’ve driven one hundred and twenty miles to Montpelier to attend a refresher course on Roberts Rules of Order.

I never met Ursula K. Le Guin. But her essays about the inequities of gender helped me navigate this man’s world.

I recently attended a gala celebrating Holton Home, a senior residence in Brattleboro, that’s been providing care for elders since it was chartered as The Brattleboro Home for the Aged and Disabled in eighteen ninety-two.

So far, I’m finding middle age to be like adolescence – only better. Sure, my body’s changing in alarming ways: I’m again developing bumps and hair, but now the bumps are where my waist was, and the hair’s on my chin.

I recently attended a program called “Deer in the Woods” about the synergy between the deer population and the forest in Windham County, sponsored by the Dummerston Conservation Committee.

For the last decade or more, my neighbor Walter has hosted an Annual Apple Squeeze on the Saturday of October’s long holiday weekend.

My husband Tim and I planned to hike a stretch of the Long Trail, but it was raining. We went anyway.

Vermont, like the rest of the nation, is facing an imminent shortage of primary care doctors.

This week as part of our Gunshots series, we asked Vermonters about the role of guns in their lives. Last year, Commentator Deborah Lee Luskin became a licensed hunter and bought her first gun after decades of never wanting one.

We recently harvested our first-ever crop of sour cherries, which I figure took about ten years and four hours to produce. We planted and nurtured the tree for a decade, and this was the first time there were enough cherries to pick. With ladders and buckets, it took us most of an hour to pluck the cherries by ones and twos.

The West River Modified Union Education District - comprised of Brookline, Jamaica, Newfane, Townshend and Windham - has just had its first organizational meeting.

I used to like Green-Up Day, when I gladly pitched in to pick up roadside trash in my neighborhood. It was like a community game of I Spy, scouring the leaf litter for brown bottles, the glint of an aluminum can, or hitting a jackpot of a six-pack jettisoned at chugged intervals. In the early years, we’d find parts of cars that looked as if they’d been assembled by Henry Ford himself.

I learned about LaCrosse, Wisconsin, from a Planet Money episode called, The Town Where Everyone Talks About Death - a city of more than fifty thousand residents, where ninety-six per cent of them have an Advance Care Plan on file.

Like everyone who travels Route 30 to and from Brattleboro, I’ve been watching construction of the new I-91 bridge over the West River for years. The project began in the fall of 2013, when interstate traffic moved onto the southbound bridge and PCL Civil Constructors began dismantling the old northbound span, girder by girder.

My town merged schools with a neighboring town about six years ago, and it’s been a great success. Newfane and Brookline have had a history of shared services since 1948, when the NewBrook Volunteer Fire Department was established.

Given the debate about acceptance and tolerance, religious and otherwise, I’ve been reminded of how the Nazis required Jews to wear yellow stars on their clothing as emblems of their identity. And I’ve briefly imagined wearing a yellow star of my own, made with the Islamic image of a star and crescent moon embroidered in the center instead of Juden, the German word for Jew.