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  • Stephen D'Agostino

Reading’s Wreath Sale is Saturday

I hope everyone had a good and safe Thanksgiving. Bill and I always spend it alone, so restrictions on gatherings didn’t change how we celebrate.

In normal times, this four-day weekend was a respite for Bill, who, until this year, traveled a lot for work. Time at home was heaven to him. This year, though he has not traveled for work for 37 weeks (he’s counting), we celebrated Thanksgiving as we always do. Turkey on Thursday, big turkey sandwiches on homemade bread on Friday. Turkey soup on Saturday, and turkey pot pie on Sunday. By the end of the weekend, I am ready for a turkey timeout, but I get over that quickly enough.

We switched into Christmas mode over the weekend and put up our decorations. That’s part of our Thanksgiving tradition, too, I’ve come to realize. It is also borne out of the fact that Bill used to travel a lot for work. It wasn't something we could do during the week.

When I was young, the tree and the Christmas decorations never went up before December 15. That changed in 1981. Suburban Boston, where I grew up, was hit with an unexpected blizzard on December 5 of that year. By the end of the next day, a Sunday, the six members of my family were staring at each other, not knowing what to do with our time. Someone, probably me, suggested putting up the tree.

Lighting our house that day was a way to squelch boredom. Last Friday, Governor Scott urged people to light up Vermont to squelch pandemic fatigue. “Let’s get creative,” he said, “to show the world that Vermonters are here for each other, that we care about one another. That even through these dark and difficult times, Vermont lights the way.”

I like this idea and was thinking along the same lines in my column last week. With the first Saturday in December just two days away, I feel sad that Reading is not having a tree lighting ceremony this year. 2020 would have marked the fourth year of this event. The first one happened on a ridiculously balmy night for December. The kids in attendance were more interested in running around without heavy winter jackets than the tree lighting. The next year was cold, and the year after (last year), colder still. I think I got feeling back in my toes by Christmas. We sang carols, drank hot chocolate, and had a visit from Santa both years.

This year, there won’t be music. There won’t be Santa. There won’t be hot chocolate. There will be a tree. It’ll be up by December 5. Be sure to stop by Puddledock Park to see how Reading is helping to light the way.

We are now well into giving season. If you haven’t already, be sure to stop by Town Hall and grab a card from the Giving Tree. This year, instead of buying gifts, the suggested donation is gift cards or money. If all the cards are gone, you can still help by writing a check to Reading Seniors and writing “Giving Project” on the memo line. You can mail the check to the Reading Town Clerk PO Box 72, Reading VT 05062.

Another way to give and to light up Vermont—or at least add to the festive feeling of this time of year—is to stop by the library on December 5 between 9am and 11am. The Reading Recreation Commission will be running this year's wreath sale and donating the proceeds to the Reading-West Windsor Food Shelf. Wreaths without bows are $18. Wreaths with bows are $25. Social distancing and mask-wearing are musts.

The hairy woodpecker has lit up my curiosity about the bird and the ways to keep it from my shingles. Its return to the cylinder feeder was short-lived. Finding the shingles more interesting and easier work, it moved to a different part of the house to peck away as only a woodpecker can. Its new location was right outside our office window. I was able to get a closer look as it took to the shingles. Observing it so closely, I noticed it had no red on the back of its head. When I scared it off, I saw it had yellow feathers outlining its tail. Going back on, I realized this is a female. Earlier I had seen a male. I don't know if that means we have two birds to worry about, or the female is calling this territory her own.

Trying to outsmart these birds is tricky. I put a piece of foil on the shingles, which only convinced the bird to move further down the roof. We changed the birdfeeder to one that is much bigger, making it easier for the bird to land on it and peck out sunflower seed after sunflower seed. Its landing is swift, causing the feeder to spin. It’s amusing to watch this large bird taking up half of the feeder and then disappear to the other side as the feeder twirls and a combination of titmice, chickadees, and nuthatches come into view. At least they're all getting along. And our shingles are enjoying a respite. How long will it last?

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, may I remind you to wear a mask, social distance, stay home if you are sick, check in with neighbors. Light up Vermont. And most importantly: Try not to succumb to pandemic fatigue.

Happy December!

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

This column originally appeared in The Vermont Standard on December 3, 2020.

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