• Stephen D'Agostino

Puddledock Park Parties Kick Off on August 1

I visited a friend in New Hampshire last week, and we took a walk by the lake near his house. While we watched a couple of yellow swallowtail butterflies flit by, he told me that he felt there were fewer butterflies this year than in years past. I thought just the opposite. Here in Reading, I’ve seen quite a few butterflies. In fact, while I am writing this, I can see two patrolling the flowerbeds.


Last week, we had our fields mowed, and the mower reported that he left a stand of milkweed in case we wanted it for the monarch butterflies. I thanked him for it and showed him a patch of land I am trying to convert into a flowerbed. Earlier in the season, I pulled out the milkweed as quickly as it came in. Now I’ve relented. The monarchs will have plenty to eat at our home!


Though it seemed early, I saw what I thought was one the other day on the milkweed. It made me feel good that I was helping out this butterfly, monarch or not.


Something else that was in abundance in my field before it was mowed was wild parsnip—or to use Scott Harkins’ more alliterative and descriptive term, poison parsnip. It had completely taken over the third of the land closest to the fence that separates field from yard. Like an invading army, a few crossed the border and were in my flowerbeds. With much caution, I removed them. I am hopeful that the mowing took care of the parsnips in the field before they went to seed. From what I understand, if you get rid of them early, there is less of a chance that they will come back the next year.


Be very careful if you try to remove these plants. Scott wasn’t exaggerating with his choice of adjectives. I’ve seen pictures of people who took less care and were sporting what looked like acid burns.


There was no poison parsnip on Bartley Field last Friday night for Game Night. In fact, it was cut short and looked rather green, despite the heat and lack of rain. The verdant field wasn’t the main attraction of the night, though. In order, they were the river, which just about every child and most of the adults enjoyed, the potluck barbecue, and then a high-spirited and high-scoring game of kickball. Thanks to everyone who came out. I thought the heat would have kept people away. To my delight, there were 25 kids and adults there. As Rec Commissioner Gerry Marletta said, it's beginning to become a part of Reading's summer. I couldn't be happier!


Also part of Reading’s summer are the Puddledock Park Parties, which start next Thursday, August 1. Like last year, each week’s party has a theme, and the theme for the kickoff party is an Ice Cream Social. Also like last year, the ice cream and all the sundae toppings will be supplied by Villager's Restaurant. Thank you so much, Jaime Wyman!


On August 8, there will be Lawn Games. Last year bocce was a big hit, so there will definitely have a set or two on hand. There will also be cornhole, lawn bowling, and other games.


August 15 will feature Upper Valley trio Rose Hip Jam with live music. I’m looking forward to that. Other themes throughout the rest of August and September include Swap Night, Art in the Park, Open Mic, an 80s Dance Night, and a night at the museum. And by that, I don’t literally mean a night at a museum, the museum, or any museum. The Rec Commission is ending the Puddledock Park Party season by airing the movie Night at the Museum, the very first outdoor movie in Reading. We’ll also be making s’mores.


Though I love that movie, I may love s’mores more. For me, the big draw might be Night at the Firepit.

August 1 and 2 are a double whammy for Reading, actually. Hot on the heels of the cool Ice Cream Social, the Reading Historical Society is hosting the second in its summer series of talks in association with the Vermont Humanities Council. This talk is called the “Indian Wars in New England,” and will be presented by Michael Tougias.


This presentation is about “the conflict between New England’s Native Americans and colonists. Tougias takes the audience on a historic journey from the Pilgrims first arrival in New England to the closing days of the French and Indian War, as the colonists and Indians fought for control of New England. Using slides of maps, battle sites, roadside history, and period drawings, Tougias covers the Pequot War, King Philip’s War, and the French and Indian War.”


By the way, if it seems like you’ve read that before you probably have. I included this same language last week. I also lifted it from the flyer prepared by the Vermont Humanities Council. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!


The talk happens on August 2 at 7pm at the Reading Historical Society Museum. It's also First Friday at the Hall Art Foundation. So why not check out the exhibits at the foundation, have some delicious La Pizza Lupo pizza, check out the Indian Stones just south of the Hall Art Foundation, and then come by the museum to learn how they fit into the broader topic of conflicts between New Englanders and Native Americans. The talk is free and open to everyone.


Happy birthday to Damion Leonard (July 25), Kim Boisvert (July 25), Maya Sluka (July 26), Ginger Harkins (July 29), and Chris Barr (July 30).


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


This column originally appeared in The Vermont Standard on July 25, 2019.

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