It’s been a long, cold Winter at the October Country Inn, and the nearby communities of Woodstock and Killington. Now that the sun has climbed higher into the northern sky, daytime temperatures climb into the 50s, and 60s, and the snow is rapidly receding. It’s time to start thinking about gardens, and no Vermont garden is complete without at least one unique whirligig spinning in the wind.
Whirligigs, objects that spin or whirl, usually powered by the wind, are often whimsical combinations of a weathervane and a pest control device. The word derives from two Middle English words: “whirlen” (to whirl), and “gigg” (top) or literally “to whirl a top.” The origin of whirligigs is unknown but there are several illustrations of the Christ child holding a whirligig. George Washington is said to have brough one home from the Revolutionary War.
Whirligigs are a form of American folk art. Here in Vermont, Russell Snow, of Waterbury Center, a seventh generation Vermonter and retired engineer, is an internationally known master of this folk art genre. Snow delights in making
whirligigs that emphasize movement. His figures are mechanically complex with several perfectly formed figures performing a variety of actions.
April is a good month to visit the October Country Inn and take advantage of our Spring two-night special. While you’re here, visit the Vermont Folklife Center. Maybe, like George Washington, you’ll bring a Vermont made whirligig home with you.