Still Learning To See

She’s back!


We all have muses, even if not clearly seen or always at hand. Maybe she lurks in the tulip now underground but getting ready for a spring burst. Maybe it is my granddaughter baking a cake with us on FaceBook. Or the glorious flakes of snow coming down these last few days, a rain of light. The juncos pulling seed from last fall’s flowers. She is everywhere whether or not I see her.

One of my favorite muses has long masqueraded as the statue of Ceres, the goddess of agricultural fertility, on top of the Vermont Statehouse dome.  She was funky and had rust showing in places but she was always there as a touchstone of being home. When the previous statue was removed last spring, after finally succumbing to decline due to nearly 80 years in the elements, we were all in shock to see the dome without her.


But plans were afoot and the dome was regilded, and the new statue carved over the last six months. Last week she rose to the top of the dome to the cheers and tears of thousands of us here in Central Vermont. What a celebration it has been. “VV” (Very Vermont) as our friend Dot says.

There are far too many photographs for any reasonable human to scroll through in a blog, so, be unreasonable and take a few minutes to quickly see her in the final stages of being carved by the amazing and generous artist, Chris Miller, the send-off party at the Vermont Granite Museum where Chris worked and always welcome the public to the process, and, finally, the ascension of Ceres to the top of the dome. And while you are scrolling, please take time to enjoy the details—most of which are now high up and hard to see or stored only in memories of wonderful times with others watching this muse come to life.

Ceres, the last finishing touches


Ceres, the goodbye party



Ceres rises!



The artist, Chris Miller, and Governor Phil Scott, both celebrating the day.

Shoveling snow off the place she will soon be resting:

Up she goes:

And down she comes onto the top of the dome!

Released from the bonds:


And the muse is back in our lives again!


This entry was published on December 7, 2018 at 11:05 am. It’s filed under John Snell, John Snell Photographer, Photograph, Vermont, Winter, and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

12 thoughts on “She’s back!

  1. Karen Dailey on said:

    Wow, wow and wow! Thanks for ALL the pictures and allowing us all to enjoy this VV moment! You all know how to celebrate. Cheers!

  2. Deborah Leu on said:

    What a fabulous image of the capitol and fall leaves. I also loved seeing those of the carving process. A super array of photos!

  3. What a fantastic photo essay! Thanks so much!!

  4. wonderful photo essay.

  5. Such a joyous occasion. Great shots. Thank you.

  6. Fantastic journey of return!

  7. Geof Hewitt on said:

    Wonderful reminder of the process and the celebration! The first photograph beneath “Ceres, the goodbye party” shows 2 seemingly identical statues (and the smaller model). The only differences I can see is their color and the headgear on the white Ceres. Where did the yellow Ceres come from?

    • The smallest was a bronze statue (not sure of its origin as I write this!) used as a model for the middle-sized one which was created especially for this project by Jerry Williams from clay. The clay model was then used by Chris Miller to create the new wooden Ceres that stands atop the dome.

      • Geof Hewitt on said:

        Thank you, John. It’s just that the scale of the clay model in that photograph seems “off.” I remember it as maybe 3 feet tall at the most, and in the photo it appears to be nearly as large as Miller’s rendition! Is this a trick of camera angle/perspective?

      • jerry t Williams on said:

        The small bronze I did 10 years prior for the Kiwanis miniature statehouse and was based on Larkin Meade’s original drawing. The 1/4 scale model I did for the State House dome was based on remnants of Meade’s 1858 version that topped the State House until it was replaced in 1938. Chris Miller enlarged the 1/4 scale to it’s full 14 feet.

      • And she is beautiful!! I’m looking forward to being one of four photographers in the “Goddess” show this fall and still marvel at the whole project! Thanks for your parts.

  8. Yes, indeed. All a trick but not intentional! I should have gotten one of the wonderful “Ceres on a Stick” things there too. Glad you enjoyed this and hope you’ll look on through some of my other postings.

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