I introduced my friend Liz to the Mascoma River Greenway this morning. She in turn introduced me to Muriel’s Donuts.
I have lived in Lebanon NH for almost 20 years, and knew of Muriel’s, but for reasons that elude me, I had never actually been to Muriel’s. I wasn’t even sure where it was located. Now that I know, life will never be the same.
Muriel Maville has been making donuts for 52 years. She makes between 40 and 70 dozen per day. Round ones with holes in the middle, plain or with cinnamon sugar. Others that can be filled with jelly if requested. Crisp on the outside, soft and cakey—with the perfect crumb—on the inside.
Muriel Maville, behind the counter, making the donuts
Muriel’s has been named a Lebanon Historic Landmark, which is fitting. But that’s not what’s most impressive about it. What most struck me in the mere minutes I spent inside the tiny store was the happiness generated in this little corner of a Lebanon neighborhood. The repetition of the door opening, people stepping into line, their faces gleeful in the anticipation of the taste of not just donuts but of these, Muriel’s donuts. Even happier faces as they spirited away their brown paper bags. Gentle jokes all around about how none of the donuts would make it home.
Liz and I bought a half-dozen each (6 for $5), sat on a tiny stone wall outside the shop and dragged one cinnamon sugar donut each from the bags. After we’d finished and licked our fingers, she handed me half of a jelly donut. “I couldn’t possibly,” I said, feeling virtuous from our 3-mile walk and hoping, but only faintly, to restrict myself to a single donut. (As the late Leonard Cohen sang, “I was fighting with temptation, but I didn’t want to win.”) I took the half-donut from her. “Maybe I’ll have just one bite.” “Put the rest back in the bag, then,” Liz said. And of course, I didn’t.
Walking companion Liz, just about to take a bite
Muriel’s is located at 20 West Street, at the corner of West and Granite Streets in Lebanon, NH, a mere minutes’ walk from the Greenway. Don’t go before and ruin a great donut with a walk afterwards. Attack the Greenway first, with visions of jelly donuts dancing in your head, then get yourself to Muriel’s for your much-deserved reward. It’s open from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm every day except Sundays.
The rest of my donuts did make it home. “Eat one of these, now,” I commanded my husband, gifting the bag into his hands the moment I walked in the door. “You’re going to love me forever.”
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Susan B. Apel is a writer and retired law professor whose creative nonfiction and poetry have appeared in a variety of literary journals such as Vine Leaves, Best of Vine Leaves 2015, the Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, Literary Mama, and Persimmon Tree. Her blog, ArtfulEdge, appears regularly on the DailyUV. She has published reviews in Art New England, Vermont Art Guide, and Boston’s The Arts Fuse. She is an Art Correspondent for The Woven Tale Press and a columnist for the newspaper, Vermont Woman. She lives in Lebanon, NH.