[Re Off Message: "Drought Disaster Declared for 10 Vermont Counties," November 17]: I have lived in Shaftsbury for 30 years now. There is an artesian well on Route 7A in Shaftsbury, across from the former Iron Kettle Motel. For the first time in 30 years, that well has run dry. I guess this is an indication of the drought.
In "Weathering the Storm" [November 11], the writer used the word "bespoke." I've been seeing this word a lot lately, so I did a little research. The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that "bespoke" means made-to-order, applied especially to clothing. Given that, the word is frequently misused.
I remember a New York Times article in which the writer mentions attending a wedding where the caterer advertised "bespoke cocktails" — meaning you could choose from two offerings they were promoting. Hardly made-to-order.
If this is an acceptable use of the word, then we're on a slippery slope. How about bespoke firewood? The logger says, "You order the wood; I buck it up, split it and deliver it to you. I made this cord for you. It's bespoke wood."
You see where this is going. Or where it's gone. It's another case of semantic drift, in which a word moves from its original meaning to something associated but different. Years from now, when bespoke is up there with locavore, artisanal, terroir, free-range, cave-aged, etc., we can say we remember when the word was used so infrequently it was almost extinct.
Let's slow down with the use of the word "bespoke" and think for a moment before we use it. Is this really the right word, or am I using it because it looks trendy?
The Seven Days writer used the word to describe "the bespoke plexiglass-and-wood dividers between tables." By that measure, one enters the restaurant through a bespoke door, with bespoke windows opening onto the street, bespoke flooring underfoot and a bespoke ventilation system overhead. Bespoke plumbing. Bespoke wiring. Really?
P.S. I love Seven Days. I haven't missed an issue in years. Keep up the great work!
Editor's note: Seven Days' dictionary of choice is Merriam-Webster. In an article titled "What Is the New Meaning of 'Bespoke'?" the dictionary details the word's evolution since the late 15th century, noting that "the new meaning of the word ('custom made') is not very new at all. We've just begun to extend it beyond clothing, which was not its sole province to begin with." "Bespoke" has been used to refer to specially made items since the Industrial Revolution, and, unlike in "bespoke firewood," we think the word was used appropriately in the context of custom-built dining dividers.
Vaccine Card Carrier
As ["Downhill Battle," November 11] states, resort owners face difficulty in being sure that guests are following the rules for COVID-19 quarantine. Unless steps are taken, this will still be true after a vaccine arrives. Some people may misrepresent their vaccination status.
To reopen the economy after a vaccine becomes available, we should know who has received the vaccine. One possible method would be to produce a "vaccination certificate," which individuals could carry or display. Possibly something like a driver's license, with a photo, name, date of vaccination and vaccine batch number. If the vaccine requires two shots a few weeks apart, a photo could be taken at the first visit and the card delivered at the second.
Once the vaccine is widely and freely available, such a card would allow ski resorts, schools, bars, restaurants, concerts, weddings, athletic contests and other gatherings to proceed without the risk of spreading the virus, simply by "carding" participants. If we can "card" to stop underage drinking, surely we can "card" to stop a pandemic.
Thank you for your continued coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. I take issue, however, with remarks made in ["Coronavirus Rekindles," November 18]. Peter Henne and Rebecca Hartman Huenink claim that the governor has banned their children from playing outside with friends or taking a walk with friends. This is not correct. Gov. Phil Scott has banned multi-household indoor gatherings. Please check the facts when quoting fellow residents. I have found the governor's and his administration's care and concern for all of us to be fair and balanced. Let us support their efforts to continue to keep our caseload low and save lives.
Editor's note: On Friday, November 13, Gov. Scott prohibited indoor and outdoor multi-household gatherings. The next week he clarified that mandate to say it was OK for a maximum of two people from different households to walk outside together, with appropriate masking and social distancing.
'Time Marches On'
I was struck by and appreciative of two articles in your October 28 issue. Dan Bolles' sprawling examination of Joe Citro's work ["In the Shadows"] reminded me of certain things that are essential about the state of Vermont. Among those things are the mysteries that abound in these intriguing woods. Whether or not one believes in ghosts, lake monsters and Bigfoot, there must be some acknowledgment that the mysteries are substantial, even though many will never be resolved. Some things are not meant to be resolved.
Citro himself remains crucial to those mysteries as he continues to offer them for our own personal investigations. As he moves deeper and deeper into the realm of being a cultural icon, Seven Days editors were astute in recognizing him and paying homage.
Although Sally Pollak's article on the transition of Major Jackson ["Major Move"] was briefer, it was no less profound for me. In fact, his time as a professor and an artistic presence here in Vermont has been incomparable. I would go even further and call him a visionary.
I offer, as just one example, his poem "Bum Rush," which draws a haunting connection between Tessie Hutchinson, of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," and all the George Floyds that have ever existed and will exist in the future. Bobby Braddock's haunting tune "Time Marches On" still reverberates in my mind as I recall how the speaker in "Bum Rush" sits innocently in the appropriately named Time Cafe, is assaulted, and conjures up the image of his deceased mother for some peace and stability as he shakes "this mortal coil."
James Robert Saunders