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  • Stephen D'Agostino

Doing Our Part to Light Up Vermont

Updated: Dec 28, 2020

That it was raining on the day of the Reading Recreation Commission's wreath sale last Saturday was, to put it bluntly, so 2020.

What was also so 2020 about that event is the response from the folks in town. The Rec had 25 wreaths. Ten were undecorated, and 15 sported bows and other seasonal accouterments. All of them sold. Some folks bought more than one, and one person bought three. I'd love to see that house adorned in seasonal greenery. In all, the Reading Recreation Commission raised over $250, which will be donated to the Reading-West Windsor Food Shelf.

Thank you to everyone who came by and bought wreaths. Thanks, too, to Scott Harkins for supplying the wreaths to the Recreation Commission.

While the wreath sale was going on, Gerry Marletta, Lisa Kaija, and Kelsey Coyle went to work setting up the town tree. Though I miss the wonderful festivity around the tree lighting ceremony, including the visit from Santa, I am happy that the town has a tree this strange year.

A super-huge, bigger-than-big thank you to Glen Towne. Pandemic brain, or simple forgetfulness, had set in when it came to setting up the tree. Perhaps I thought the stakes, the rope, and the tree stand would magically appear at Puddledock Park on the day Glen had said he and Mark Biathrow would be down to help set up the tree. Of course, they were not. Glen surveyed the tree, measured the trunk's diameter, and said he would come up with something.

The next day, he texted me to tell me the stand was at Puddledock Park.

The other thing I thought would somehow magically appear for the tree were the lights. I had to go down to the Village and hunt for them, finally finding them in the library's attic. And what to my wondering eyes did appear when I entered the park after my attic expedition was Glen's tree stand.

I don't know how he did it, but he fashioned a super sturdy metal stand with screws to hold the trunk. It's heavy, which is a necessity, as the wind howling outside as I write this reminds me. It also has a handle, which will be great come January when the tree comes down and we put away the decorations. Hopefully, on that day, I will write down where everything is to avoid a pre-tree-lighting panic that plagued me this year.

Every year, the preparation for the tree lighting makes me nervous. Every year, it happens, in some form or another, and every year, I learn how we can make it better. This year, I think I learned a lot.

You'll also notice this year that the outer pillars of the library are lit as well. That was Gerry's idea. If you had watched him, Kelsey, and me trying to figure out how to put up the lights, you would have wagered that it would never happen. But Kelsey and Gerry were persistent, and their determination paid off.

Though there won't be a ceremony, the Reading town tree is part of a larger celebration. If you subscribe to Front Porch Forum, you probably saw that Annalise Ennis, who lives in Brownsville, took the ball that the governor had thrown regarding lighting up Vermont, and she ran with it.

Annalise asks for people in the Brownsville/West Windsor/Reading area to send her photos and locations of houses lit up for the holidays. She has posted one list of homes so far, and I am sure there will be a second or more.

Let's help her out. If you've decorated your house, send her your location, and she will include it on her list. You can contact Annalise at Collect these addresses and go for a drive and see how your neighbors are lighting up Vermont.

Before Gerry and I parted ways after the wreath sale last Saturday, I asked him if he could head down to the library after dark, take some pictures, and send them to me.

By the time I drove to Route 44, I noticed that a few of the raindrops hitting my windshield were looking pretty thick. The closer I got to Whitmore Circle, the more numerous these wannabe snowflakes became.

As I drove parallel to Route 106, I began to see more snow than rain. Halfway up the hill, it was snowing at a good clip, a clip which continued all day and into the evening.

Around 8pm, as requested, Gerry texted me photos of the library and the tree. It made me happy to see it. I also noticed something. There was no snow on the ground at the park. Though we received far less snow than was predicted (isn't that usually the case?), we'd had enough snow to cover the ground. As best I can tell, where I live on Jenne Road is about 700 feet higher than Felchville. Though I'd heard people in a village in the past say they'd received no snow, this was a reminder that when meteorologists say more snow on higher elevations, "high" doesn't have to be that high.

Though snow on the tree would have been beautiful, the sight of the lit tree was special enough during this strange season.

That’s the news from Reading. See you next week.

This column originally appeared in The Vermont Standard on December 10, 2020.

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