… Leaves rustle. You turn and you are not alone. A kindly face framed by leaves emerges from the woods. There are stories of them from many cultures and many ages, depicted in art and architecture around the world, symbolizing the yearly cycle of growth and renewal. This one speaks about Lake Morey, the Palisades, and the forest that so many creatures depend on for survival…
This project is an outcome of Fairlee’s 2019 Better Connections grant funded by ACCD and VTrans. One of the objectives of the community revitalization process was to connect Fairlee’s economic center (Main Street) with its rich array of outdoor resources (including Lake Morey). After engaging community residents, the final Main Street to Morey report included public art in the I-91 underpass as an important recommendation. Matt Heywood’s artwork is designed to transform the connection into a welcoming and meaningful space.
FCA solicited portfolios from artists and from thirteen submissions winnowed down to four by a selection committee consisting of local artists and community members, one finalist was selected: artist Matt Heywood of The Image Farm, Middlebury, VT.
A pair of colorful murals will be installed on the I-91 bridge abutments to correspond with the movement of vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians through the underpass. The artwork features stylized foliage of several distinctive native trees, celebrating the incredible seasonal change they undergo. Hemlock, white oak, basswood, and mountain holly mingle with snowflakes as Winter gives way to Spring. Summer fades into Fall with sugar maple, American chestnut, black cherry, and moosewood. Two figures harmonize with the flowing foliage, symbolizing extraordinary relationships between people and plants.
Morey and Main
The fall foliage would be near peak at high elevation, so the direct route to Fairlee over mountain terrain is nicer than the highway option at this time of year. Gradually you drop down past quaint hill farms through the color-soaked woods and into town. Every so often, someone reports being struck by a feeling of great comfort as they pass through that forest—like the best hug you’ve ever had.
Fairlee is a small town, but it’s full of treasures if you know where to look. Grab a bite to eat as you explore Main Street, then turn out toward Lake Morey to walk the easy loop below the steep bluffs. You’re enticed by a barely-there path down to a perfect little outcrop. As you ponder a swim in the sparkling lake, there’s that feeling of belonging again.
Leaves rustle. You turn and you are not alone. A kindly face framed by leaves emerges from the woods. There are stories of them from many cultures and many ages, depicted in art and architecture around the world, symbolizing the yearly cycle of growth and renewal. This one speaks about Lake Morey, the Palisades, and the forest that so many creatures depend on for survival. The storyteller recalled when the first people arrived, followed by many more people of all types. Needless wars broke out between cultures; curious inventions and potions sometimes sickened the land. Fortunately, not everyone in the valley was so shortsighted…
Before disappearing into Fairlee’s western woods, your guide tells you to go east and look for a wintery friend. She has been here much longer and will tell you more.
Snow Sisters are very rare, inhabiting only truly special places. Like the storyteller from the lake, they are rarely seen. Fascinated by people, this Sister moved from the mountains long ago to be near the bustle of Main Street. She delighted in the soaring bridges, the verdant parks, and the way the townspeople—like the trees—understood the value of resiliency and adaptation. She was pleased when people drew important lessons from their natural communities, recognizing the profound value in each unique plant from this northern landscape. Those people passed on their knowledge, protecting and restoring the lands that provide shelter, food, medicine, and more.
It is starting to get late and you have a long journey ahead. You thank the Snow Sister and ask her to pass your gratitude along to her leafy, green friend. Recalling their timeless tales about the history of this place, you are reminded of the unique qualities of Fairlee and the interdependence of people on each other and the land. Starting off on the road, you are also intrigued by stories that have yet to be spun.