The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

awed sessions

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Burlington, Vermont is found along the shoreline of Lake Champlain. You’re not terribly far (45 miles) from the National Border with Canada in Burlington, and it’s something like a two hour drive to get to Montreal. Burlington is a college town, with a large campus devoted to the University of Vermont and another to Champlain College. Just under 43,000 Americans call this city home, but Our Lady of the Pentacle and I were just visiting for a mere 72 hours.

Burlington has a feather in its cap, as it’s the first and only city in the entire United States to power its ambitions using renewable energy sources. Everywhere you look, there’s solar panels and wind turbines, and apparently the local power plant burns locally grown and farmed wood rather than fossil fuels to motivate the dynamos. It’s the home base of political superstar Bernie Sanders, who was Mayor of Burlington for an interval, and it was under his watch that the City transformed its post industrial decay into what it is now.

Look at that – the answer to all things isn’t “Luxury Condos,” and politicians who don’t just talk, they do.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To the west, on what I believe to be the New York State side of Lake Champlain, storms were brewing. If you haven’t been to this part of the country before, it’s essentially a temperate rain forest. The mountains aren’t huge, but there are a lot of them, which means a lot of valleys too. When the sun rises, mist and fog do as well, which agglutinate into fairly unpredictable overhead weather. You experience distinct climatological conditions in Vermont depending on what time of day it is.

Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself desired to be outside, nevertheless, after our long hermitage during the Covid lockdowns. There’s a series of waterfront bike and pedestrian paths, created by the Sanders era urban renewal projects, along the Lake Champlain waterfront. We followed them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One was intrigued by the various islands found in Lake Champlain, some of which are occupied, as I was told by some of the locals. Obviously, you need to have your own boat and dock to interact with the rest of the world, but what a splendid sense of isolation this sort of lifestyle must offer.

The rain building to the west was moving towards us, and we decided to move away from the waterfront on the way to our next destination.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lakeview Cemetery was established in 1872, and several notable Vermonters are interred there. It’s officially a “Victorian Lawn Park” cemetery in design, and had that certain New England sort of stolidity encoded into every monument and planting. Beautifully maintained, like many cemeteries it was teeming with birds and bees and critters. Accidental island of green, cemeteries are.

Alongside those notables, lots of common folk are also buried here. I didn’t do a deep dive into research for Lakeview, since – as mentioned above – we were only going to be in town for 72 hours. Saying that, we were out of the hotel room every day in the early morning and didn’t come back until well after dark.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Louisa Howard Chapel, a high Victorian gothic style chapel gifted to the city of Burlington by (notable) Louisa Howard. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places. One observation about this part of the country is that they don’t fool around when they’re building churches.

The Chapel is tiny, but it could probably bounce an artillery shell off of its stout walls and masonry. There are massive churches of every denomination here in Burlington and the surrounding towns which are – as the Brits would say – “gob smacking.” I could spend weeks and possibly months photographing them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In terms of the politicians actually “putting up or shutting up,” another thing that I can recommend about this northern city of just under 43,000 people is this – if you’re a refugee fleeing from some war torn situation, Burlington sets out its welcome mat for you. Vermont is one of the “whitest” states in the northeast, and Burlington’s population is something like 85% of European decent. When you see Middle Eastern or Far Eastern faces there, they kind of stick out. Casual chats with strangers revealed Afghani, Syrian, even West and North African inflected accents who described the new life they were experiencing in America and the generosity and kindness of the Vermonters when they arrived here. That’s the good stuff, I tell’s ya.

Tomorrow – more from the northlands.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 28, 2021 at 1:00 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Great travel writing!


    September 28, 2021 at 7:21 pm

  2. […] Burlington, Vermont: leaving from NYC in ultimate abyss, exploring the Lake Champlain shoreline in awed sessions, the Ethan Allen Homestead and Intervale in immemorial lore, Church Street and downtown in waxen […]

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