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  • Stephen D'Agostino

Concert and Mama Mia Bistro on Tap for This Weekend

Over the past few weeks, I've talked with many folks in the area about birds visiting our feeders. We all seem to have the usual winter trio of black-capped chickadees, tufted titmice, and juncos. With those, I also see a few white-breasted nuthatches, red-breasted nuthatches, purple finches, and blue jays. Sometimes I see goldfinch, and I am thrilled when a female cardinal comes by. Cardinals usually travel in pairs, so I am on the lookout for the male.

The birds that visit the feeder fly to and from the burning bush, pine trees, and crab apple tree. Often, another type of bird that most people wouldn't count as a backyard visitor joins them. It's a ruffed grouse — actually two of them. I see them plodding through the thin layer of snow under the trees I mentioned earlier. One day last week, I saw one sleeping on the fence. That would have been my best bird sighting of that week if I hadn't seen a bald eagle in Woodstock on the same day. It's always nice to see those majestic birds. Sometimes, I think it is a miracle that they have become so common.

Something reminiscent of a miracle is happening in our town. On Halloween, our librarian, Tony Pikramenos, flipped the switch on dozens of small battery-powered candles and dropped them into the carved pumpkins that lined the steps of the library. When the night was over, he left one little tealight on to see how long it would take for the battery to wear out.

Reading's librarian, Tony Pikramenos, left this battery-powered tea light on after Halloween celebrations concluded. Three months later, it is still lit. How long will it last?

Like the menorah in the Hanukkah story, the light stayed lit for longer than was expected, given the limited energy source it had. Through November, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah itself, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and the whole month of January, the candle stayed on. It’s still lit. In honor of its original purpose to light a jack-o’-lantern and the similarities to the miracle that inspired the Jewish festival, I have dubbed the tealight the Hallowanukkah candle.

Delighted by the candle’s longevity, Tony has decided to make a game out of it. He is welcoming people to call, email, or come by the library and submit guesses for how long the Hallowanukkah candle will stay lit. The person whose guess is closest to the day the candle goes out will win a new book of his or her choosing, courtesy of the Reading Public Library.

This would be the part in a television commercial or radio ad where the announcer, speaking in double-time, would read the rules and regulations of the contest. Suffice it to say that the date the candle has flickered its last is Tony’s to decide.

I want to revisit something I wrote last week regarding a not-so-small light. I mentioned that I was trying hard to convince myself that it was light well before the actual sunrise. I learned I am not alone. One woman I was speaking with laughed when I told her that trick was part of my winter survival strategy. She said she employed the same technique until this week. Around 6:40am, we looked outside and realized that we no longer have to play mind games with ourselves. It's real!

Another woman congratulated herself and me for making it through the worst part of winter. I didn't want to rain—or snow—on her parade, but I think she is only half right. I feel that February is warmer than January, but I also feel that we get more snow. Of course, now that I mentioned it, February will certainly turn out to be colder and less snowy than January. At least sunrise and sunset times are 100% predictable.

I can’t predict the turnout for the Turnip Truck concert happening on Saturday night at Reading Town Hall, but I am happy to report that I have heard a lot of people talking about it. The turnout at the January concert was spectacular. Why not help continue the trend? The show starts at 7pm, with doors opening at 6:30pm.

Admission is $10 for adults and free for children 15 and under. All proceeds benefit the Ottauquechee Health Foundation, the Reading Green Spaces Committee, the Reading Recreation Commission, and the Reading/West Windsor Food Shelf. Speaking of the Food Shelf, they are providing the food for this month’s concert. Sara Norcross told me that they’re going to pretty much duplicate the spread they offered last year. All I can say is: come hungry!

Don't forget that this is a double-whammy weekend. On Sunday from 4pm to 7pm, the Reading PTO is holding Mama Mia Bistro at the Reading Elementary School. The cost is $8 for adults, $5 for children, and $20 for families. The menu will consist of bread, salad, pasta, and dessert.

If you would like to help out with this event, the Reading PTO is looking for donations of Italian bread loaves, garlic bread, and dessert items. They're also looking for help preparing, serving, and cleaning up after the meal. If you are interested in helping out, send a message to Barbara Lord at

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

This column originally appeared in The Vermont Standard on February 6, 2020.

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