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Vermont is one of the most photographed of the fifty states. Bordered on the east by the Connecticut River and on the northwest by Lake Champlain, famous for the spike of Green Mountains down its middle and its autumn colors and winter whites, Vermont is every photographer's dream. Because most books of Vermont photographs have focused almost exclusively on the state's stunning natural environment, they convey a landscape of great beauty but one in which, apart from the reliable changing of the seasons, not much happens. Photographs of the people of Vermont - and their animals, farms, schools, and churches - offer a much more complex story. For three hundred years, Vermonters have contended with a sometimes merciless natural environment - frigid winters and summers so dry that the corn never ripened. And although modern technologies help take the sting out of the worst that nature might provide, economic downturns continue to affect the livelihood of the many Vermonters still relying on seasonal work. What keeps Vermonters going in bad times as well as good are their rich connections to family, friends, and community and an abiding respect for the ramshackle as well as the new. Jon Gilbert Fox's photographs capture private moments of personal introspection, humor or sadness, the hardships and glories of work, leisure, and daily life. These images enlighten and delight through the subtle artistries of design, color, and theme. The volume begins with an array of people at work and taking a moment of respite from their daily labors: housepainters, sheepshearers, waitresses, farmers, and young field hands. Scenes of ramshackle porches, dilapidated post offices, and tired barns characteristic of Vermont's older communities complement soaring church steeples and a house at the rainbow's end. Animals, central to Vermont's economy as well as to its domestic pleasures, are featured prominently in these pages. The image of a horse pull at a county fair that shows an animal's straining muscles is juxtaposed against the relaxed backs and flanks of horses grazing. There are cats at rest and on guard, and even a hapless pig who seems to know his days are numbered. With a rare combination of artistry and candor, sympathy and wit, Fox's photographs bring us an unusual glimpse of a Vermont not easily accessible to outsiders.
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