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Last week I got a phone call out of the blue from someone at the Wallingford Rotary asking me if I would be their speaker for this week’s program. My first thought was “Me? Why do you want me?” I actually think that was the first thing that I said on the phone as well. Turns out, I agreed to speak and then I was determined to find out what I could speak about to this group. Sure, I can talk law, but this is a group of varied professionals and I don’t know that I could have found common ground that was interesting enough. I had the pleasure of interviewing the then-incoming president of the Rotary, Adrian Eisler over the summer for the Rutland County Express and we discussed ways to bring new members and update the Rotary’s image which is one of her goals as president. I thought that brainstorming some new ways to open up to the community and thereby increase their membership might be a fun topic that obviously would be of interest to them. I spent a chunk of time yesterday investigating what other Rotary groups do to bring in new members and see how they could make use of things at their fingertips like their webpage, a Facebook page, Twitter account and a blog. We discussed how to tap into the younger generations, particularly how they could garner the interest of the middle school and high school kids, many sadly who have no idea that they come from a Rotary that is the home of all Rotary since its founder Paul Harris is from good ol’ Wallingford Vermont. We discussed getting the kids involved, getting the community involved and letting Wallingford and the surrounding areas know who the Rotarians were, what they did professionally and where their personal interests lie in the hopes of making connections that could foster future relationships between the organization and future members.
I thought that it was a good discussion and hopefully so did they. It was definitely interesting and fun to do something a little outside of my comfort zone. Since as part of their meeting, they pass the Pig and put in a dollar for a happy thought that they share with the group and many of those thoughts centered around spring, flowers and the vegetables, I chose a pick of apple blossoms to share with this post. Check out the Wallingford Rotary’s web page for more information about the Wallingford Rotary which is open to professionals, business people and community members not only from Wallingford but also the surrounding communities.
This weekend started very early in the morning with a 2:15 alarm going off to rustle a child off for breakfast and then a trip to whale watch with his biology class. Company arrived and then a couple beautiful days of gardening, company and enjoying the weather. We enjoyed a nice dinner at our friends’ home with some great conversation.
The cousins and friends hanging around waiting for the start of the parade.
Our good friend, Tom French was the Grand Marshall of the parade. Tom received a Purple Heart for his military service.
We enjoyed the Memorial Day parade in town this morning, followed by more gardening.
It was inspiring to see a large part of the town and a lot of familiar faces all at the cemetery for the most important part of the whole day — remembering those who gave so much for all of us.
The day ended with a nice relaxing hour or so on our porch with a book, a breeze and my favorite guy.
Typing this as the sun sets. Despite my lack of a voice for most of the weekend, it was good. Feeling very satisfied.
We were adjusting to what everyone is referring to as “the new normal” which for us, means we pretend that Sugar Hill Road dead ends just past our neighbor’s house. After all, we could take Maranville Road to Route 140 headed toward Route 103 or Route 140 straight into Wallingford village and Route 7.
Not so after this morning. The bridge by White Rocks Recreation, which is our way (and unless there’s something I’m missing) the only way from our neck of the woods into Wallingford without going a very roundabout route is no more — at least for while. The bridge is no longer safe and has been shut down to traffic in both directions.
This means a lot of things for us. A trip to the transfer station is now a trip down Route 103 and then back into Wallingford to drop off trash. The bus route for school normally travels that route and since school starts tomorrow — we really don’t know how they will do that except by splitting the route. A trip to Manchester (although we don’t go that often) now means driving either through Ludlow and Route 100 (assuming of course that the roadway is open, which I don’t know offhand since we’ve had no reason to travel that way in the past week) or traveling most of the way to Rutland and then traveling south. In any event, life has become that much more difficult.
Still, keeping it all in perspective, we are inconvenienced, not devastated — as so many here in Vermont were from the storm. Traveling around here has become much more deliberate and less casual — since most trips involve a lot more driving than they used to involve.
It is incredible how much damage Irene did to Vermont. We are seeing and hearing about incredible damage. So very, very sad. We are very fortunate that the damage to our property was extremely minimal compared to those around us. We lost a couple small trees. The road leading to our house has been washed away almost completely in both directions and we are without power. The road crews are doing their best to get us a way down off the hill via Sugar Hill Road, although there really aren’t a lot of places to go from what we understand since so many roads and bridges are just completely gone.
One of the extremely disheartening stories about our neighbors involved our friends at Evening Song Farm. The farmland was literally destroyed by the storm. The river berm gave way and the river has diverted through their property.
The land in this picture was farmland as of Saturday evening. Acres and acres of vegetables for their CSA patrons and farmer’s market customers. As you can see, not only is everything washed away, the farmland has been replaced with river silt, sand and rocks. Their land has apparently been rendered unusable as farmland.
This was Kara and Ryan’s first year here in Vermont and in our community as CSA farmers. My heart breaks for their loss. Yes no one’s life was lost here but their livelihood was destroyed and the devastation is heart wrenching.
We were able to get down there and express our sympathies for their loss and in a true testament to the spirt of Vermonters, while we were standing there talking, several folks stopped and offered their hands to help.
Today was our first CSA pickup! This afternoon, we ran over to Evening Song Farm to chat with Kara and Ryan and Echo (who was behaving himself very nicely with all those potential playmates coming and going) and gathered our first CSA of the season.
After spending a nice chunk of time speaking with Evening Song Farm owners, Kara and Ryan for my article that I did on their farm a month or so ago, I feel a connection to them. They are a genuinely nice couple that make you immediately feel at home. I was so very happy today to see so many people coming and going from the barn that is the CSA pickup location. They are a great addition to the community and I was so looking forward to the first pickup today.
Since I grow my own garden, and quite a large one at that, many people questioned my sanity at joining a CSA. Why would I do that? Simple answer, my family and I use more produce that I can produce and those that know us know that we have a lot of company. Since I usually go to the Rutland Farmer’s Market and purchase at least as many items as I am getting in my weekly CSA pickup, why wouldn’t I want to get a discount (yes it’s cheaper than purchasing the same items at the farmer’s market) and have the convenience of being able to pick it all up within five minutes of my own door? To me, these are good reasons, along with the fact that I’m helping a new local business get a leg-up in a less than desirable economy.
Since Evening Song Farm provides its members with a free choice CSA, I can tailor my weekly pickup to my needs which is another great idea in my opinion. This week’s pick looked like this:
Another good reason for joining was that my veggies are merely little seedlings right now and I’m certainly not growing a lot of what they have to choose from at the farm. We chose broccoli rabe, lettuce, baby lettuce, pea shoots, baby bok choy and these beautiful long and amazingly delicious garlic scallions that are at least two feet long.
Thanks so much to Kara, Ryan and Echo for some beautiful, fresh and delicious local veggies.
Needless to say, tonight’s dinner was angel hair pasta with sauteed broccoli rabe, garlic scallions, olive oil and crushed red pepper. It was delicious!
Our church, a small community here in Wallingford, was kind enough to decide to celebrate the confirmation of its five young members. Through a lot of hard work on many people’s part, on Sunday the newly confirmed enjoyed a special mass in which they participated, the May crowning where TJ was given the honor to crown Mary (maybe he was just the tall one) followed by a delicious brunch for everyone in the parish hall. It was a delightful morning despite the rain and many thanks to all those who thought enough to celebrate the newest adult members of the parish.
The young gentlemen in the picture was a First Communion recipient and wonderfully included in the celebration!
There are some very amazing people I get to meet as a result of writing for the Rutland County Express.They are inspirational to me. People often comment that I’m industrious with all the plates I appear to be spinning at the same time, but when I get a chance to interview other people, it really isn’t all that industrious or amazing.What some of my interviewees are up to is far more interesting and inspiring than anything that I appear to be doing.
The reason that I love the writing, (well, besides the fact that I love writing) is that I’m not a very outgoing person on my own, so if it weren’t for “having” to find something or someone to write about each week, I might not have found some of the nicest and most inspiring people in our area. It forces me out of my shell and I’m lucky to have a great deal of leeway in what I choose to write about each week, I can be flexible and go along with what catches my eye or something interesting I’ve noticed.
For instance, this morning I had an opportunity to sit down with Ryan and Kara of Evening Song Farm which is located just down the road (Vermont-style, of course) on Route 103 by the Cuttingsville/Wallingford border. I have been passing this plot of land which was home to a lot of stuff on the lawn before Kara and Ryan purchased it for the better part of almost a year and watching the transformation of this property. Little by little, fields have been tilled and hoop houses set up, manure was spread, more tilling and then recently, lots of activity and green things growing.
The 20-ish couple (Kara is originally from Teaneck NJ – geez– it’s really a small world) purchased the land and started their own farm. They previously ran a successful small vegetable farm with CSA in Pennsylvania. Originally looking to start a farm in northern Vermont and unable to find a suitable spot, by sheer luck they found this property right on the bank of river, which they now call home, along with their adorable puppy Echo.
The couple are selling CSA shares for their farm which is really rather neat, since there aren’t any local CSAs close to us. CSA is community supported agriculture and essentially you buy a share, entitling you to a portion of the harvest from the farm during the growing season. The member picks up their share once a week on a designated day. The shares are usually a fixed assortment of whatever is ready for harvest that week, along with accompanying recipes. Evening Song Farm is offering a different twist on CSA – a “free choice” share. Essentially instead of getting a fixed basket of veggies and be damned those of you who hate broccoli or tomatoes, etc., Kara and Ryan will give their CSA members choice of what items they want to fill their share for that week (barring some unusual circumstance where a specific crop is very limited). So, the salad lovers, can fill their share with all salad fixings, the broccoli lovers can gorge and the adventurous souls can load up with all sorts of goodies that they’ve never tried before. It’s a great idea even if you have your own home garden, since, let’s face it, we all can’t grow everything that we’d like to.
They are also going to sell at the local farmer’s markets five days a week.
Today, after our interview and photos, they offered me a bag of pea shoots which I most gratefully accepted. I then rushed home, wrote my article, submitted it and broke into the pea shoots.
Damn. They are good. Here is how they were transformed by me into lunch.
I mean, seriously, look at how nicely Kate & Ryan’s delicious pea shoots fit in with my fried rice mix-together lunch.
Lunch was delicious and my morning conversation with Kara and Ryan certainly was amazing and inspiring. I hope that they have a very successful year of farming.
By the way, that awesome sign in the picture was designed and painted by Kara and the frame was crafted by Ryan from timber from his father’s grove. Talk about inspirational!
One of the things that I enjoy about New England is its democracy. It’s pretty neat that people in the town get together once a year at a meeting to talk out and vote on issues that are important to them. It’s nice to see friends and neighbors get recognized for their hard work. It’s interesting when someone stands up at town meeting and asks a question, it’s nice when someone stands up for no other reason thank to draw attention to a job well done by workers in town that we can often take for granted.
Last night we had our town meeting here in Wallingford. It’s always an interesting night, our own peek into the window of democracy and the power of the people wrapped deliciously in the sixth grade’s annual bake sale. All in all it was a relatively quiet town meeting. Not a lot of discussion over anything, different than last year, but still just as interesting.
Today we will vote on several of the warnings that were brought before us last evening. Unlike some other towns where all the voting is done at town meeting, ours is a hybrid. Some things are voted on at town meeting, some are voted for by Australian Ballot at the poles today.
As you decide whether or not your schedule will permit you to vote today and whether you will take the time to make the trip to the polls; take a look at what is going on around the world – people are risking their lives for even the most paltry imitation of the rights that we selfishly take for granted. In deference to the people the world over that are willing at this very moment to give up their lives for what we often don’t consider much at all–get out there and vote today.
So here they are–the team with their coach for an eerie picture in front of the Michigan State sign last night. Everyone arrived safely in Michigan. Today it appears that everyone is converging on the university. More and more people are around, crowds of blue and tie dye, purple, neon and all different color and design shirts. Some have come right from Michigan itself, but last night the kids were pin trading with kids from Singapore and DOD kids from Germany. This morning as I walked while they unload their props I saw teams from Mexico.
Tonight is the opening ceremonies – the official kick-off to a week of competition. Our kids compete on Saturday morning so we have time both to practice and to check out the exhibits and the competition.
Today is a beautiful day – a sure sign that summer must be finally coming to our corner of Vermont. Another sure sign is well, this sign – the auction sign! We have a local auction lady, Linda’s Auction Service, that puts on auctions every week or every other week, depending on what’s she’s got to auction, but only during the summer months. Tonight is the first of Linda’s auctions and I’m a happy camper – you never know what you might find. It truly is a fun evening whether you stay the whole night or just pop in a for an hour or so.
Several sure signs of summer have arrived here in Wallingford…. Linda’s auction and Doreen’s Ice Cream Stand. Both are sure definite signs that winter is behind us and the summer is coming up fast. As anyone who lives here knows, summer is a relative term, measured not so much by the weather as by the calendar and certain things that only occur in the summer months. When we were in Jersey it was trips to the shore, talk of the beach, humid weather and the town pool being opened on weekends before school was out for the summer. Here, yesterday it was in the 40s and some people even had their wood stoves still burning away the chill that we call the tail end of spring.
But…it’s all good with Linda and Doreen back in town….summer’s finally here.
Things have been crazy. In addition to work and the other mom-erly duties the Odyssey parents have been working on the final leg of our fundraising. We are having a MayDay Dessert Party and Silent Auction at WES this Saturday. The previous weeks have been canvassing for donations of items to auction and now, it is a matter of cataloging them, making signs and advertising. Baking will come later in the week. If you live in the area and don’t have any other way of celebrating MayDay, you should come and check out all our hard, hard work. I must admit, that it came in drips and drabs, but the collection is pretty cool – there are Lake Champlain cruise tickets, wine and cheese baskets, theater tickets, attraction tickets and lots of really cool potential Mother’s Day gifts in the mix. All the proceeds will go to help the Odyssey kids get to Michigan at the end of May. If nothing else, the list of desserts we are preparing is pretty darn impressive and should be quite tasty!
It’s been a good Sunday. We’ve got a Christmas tree. Here’s a picture of youngest son cutting the tree. As usual we made the trip to Cuttingsville (long one that it is) to Paxton Greens for the tree. Tim suited up in his ski clothes to gain the honor of cutter – not that his brothers were jumping at the opportunity. Here the older two boys are with Tom.
The tree was successfully cut by Tim (with a little help from Tom – we were getting cold) and the oldest carried it away.
The day started off on an interesting note. We walked into our tiny little church to find the Bishop saying mass. Why you ask? Why not, he said. He maintained that he likes to plan these “short notice” visits to the various churches for mass on Sunday to see how the parish is on a normal Sunday. My boys had the honor of presenting the gifts and each received an individual blessing from the Bishop and a personal wish for a Merry Christmas. Rather neat, it really seemed to make their day.