Some say Alburgh has seen better times. The diner closed and the last remaining bank is scheduled to be shuttered. But there is a gem in this island community.
It's the town's library and Marybelle Singer has a right to boast. Last year's visits to the library were up 16 percent.
Marybelle Singer keeps the place humming. She's the head librarian and at 90 a constant presence. She works full time -- 36 hours a week.
For a lover of books this is nirvana, and the hugs aren't bad either.
"I get a lot of hugs, that really makes my day," Singer says.
We all know the saying, starting a new chapter in one's life.. Marybelle's book of life would be full of them.
"I don't look back, I don't look ahead, I live in the moment," she says.
She was born in Missouri, a child of the depression. Her parents lost their business and home when Marybelle was not even a teen. The studious and hardworking girl graduated from college and became a newspaper reporter in Lincoln Nebraska, something almost unheard of in 1942.
She was one of the few woman reporters in the midwest, a traditional men's club.
"It was a fun job, it was great," she says.
In Lincoln, she met Russ.
"He was said to resemble Clark Gable," she recalls.
Three months later, they were married.
Another saying: don't judge a book by it's cover. This is especially true for Marybelle.
"We went back and lived in a tent on God's land," she says.
They were fifty and with the kids out of school, the couple left the modern world. Not a midlife crisis, but more like a reawakening, picking tomatoes on her son's farm in Kentucky and then buying a farm themselves.
"It was a philosophical decision," Singer says. "The world was getting too complicated and we needed to simplify."
For fourteen years, it was the best times. But Vermont beckoned. They were in the state when they spotted a house in Alburgh that had been abandoned for 23 years. It became there last house they would remodel. Russ passed away just two years ago.
She wrote a poem -- assigned the task of writing about her life in 6 words
"Lucky Child, parents mild, happy me," she reads.
But she struggled and decided to do 6 words a decade.
"Home on the lake, babies and books," she adds.
But it's the footnotes that are perhaps the most powerful.
"My home is anywhere I am, my heart is anywhere you are," she says.
Being in Alburgh has been the longest chapter in her life, but don't put this book down. You got a few more pages to read on the wonderful life of Marybelle Singer.
PO Box 4508