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  • Stephen D'Agostino

Reading is Full of Local Art With Uplifting Messages

A couple of weeks ago, on my first trip to the Greenhouse to start spring plantings, I took a photo of a painting hanging on the outside wall. It was a heart of many colors, striped like a rainbow and floating on a green background. Near the middle, on a yellow stripe, were the words: “We are all in this together.” Beside those words was another little heart. The painting was signed, "Sadie Rowlee."

A couple of weeks later, Bill and I had a socially distanced and completely-by-accident visit with Lisa, Kevin, and Lauren Kaija and Marie and Kevin Anderson. Lisa asked me if I’d seen the new artwork at the Reading Greenhouse. I had not, but I made a mental note to check it out. She also mentioned there was art in Town Hall and at Watroba’s.

The drawings and paintings around town are the result of an extra art activity she had assigned kids at Reading Elementary School. The assignment was to "create something BIG and COLORFUL that will lift people's spirits."

The assignment also suggested that the kids include positive messages. Lisa, or Mrs. Kaija to her students, suggested such things as “we are stronger together,” “stay home/stay safe,” “be kind,” “love your neighbor,” “after the rain there are flowers,” “our community cares,” and “you got this!”

On Memorial Day, I returned to the Greenhouse for annuals and perennials to put in my garden, hoping I'd have a chance to check out the new art. However, with a cashier located by the greenhouses, I never made it to where the pictures were hanging.

I had another chance, though, because whenever I plant a new flower in my garden, space magically appears for two more. Nature abhors a vacuum, and I abhor open spaces in my flower beds. Back I went for more flowers.

There were many more paintings on the walls of the Greenhouse. One, a map of the world with horizontal stripes, has a message dispersed across the continents that reads, "Everything Will Be OK." Another, by Calvin, titled "The Three H's" includes a wise philosophy for the times: “Happy Hopeful Helpful.”

That same day, I made my first foray into Town Hall in months to mail a letter that needed extra postage. Entering from the back entrance, I enjoyed a walk past more colorful creativity. Adorning the walls are several paintings done by artists E.A, Oliver, Autumn, Maxfield, and others.

The Rowlees made this art project a family affair. Though Brooke is not at Reading Elementary School, she has a painting up in the hall. Using the heart motif as her sister had, it reads, “Kindness: It costs nothing but means everything!” Sadie’s and Brooke’s mother, also not an RES student, has a poignant painting among the display. Hers is a field of flowers that reads, "A Nurse Will Always Give Us Hope, An Angel With a Stethoscope."

Alongside that painting is a small note that reads, "Thank you Reading Nurses and ALL Healthcare Heroes!" The list is long. Cindy Bauman, Karen Appleton, Janet Malcolm, Nat Jenne, Barbara Lord, Abby Rowlee, Lisa Wesinger, Ellen Goodenough, Edita Hartig, Claire Kilbride, Jean Chick, Anna Sessa, and Marc Sacco.

I had no idea that Reading has so many healthcare heroes! Thank you all for the work you do. Not only during these times but all the time.

And thank you, Lisa Kaija and all our talented town artists for these inspiring works of art. To see an online gallery of this art, visit Reading’s Facebook page.

After a couple of weeks of porchside pickup at the Library, I checked in with Tony for updates. He wanted to point out two non-traditional library services that might be of interest.

First, the Library has fresh vegetable seeds for the Seed Library. Though early June may, in some years, be too early to plant, it is not too late. The Library offers five packets of seeds per family. If you need assistance selecting seeds, Tony can help.

Like books, seeds are available for porch pickup. To arrange a pickup or delivery to your house, contact the Library at You can also call 484-5588 and leave a message with your request.

Please note that each order will be handled by only one staff person, using hygiene recommendations from the Department of Health and the CDC.

The wireless internet connection is available outside the library building all the time, even when the Library is closed. For those who need it, the Library now has a laptop available for use on the library porch for one-hour slots by appointment. This service is offered Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30am to 11:30am, and 1pm to 3pm, and on Saturdays from 9:30am to 11:30am. People who wish to use the laptop must sanitize their hands before their session (sanitizer will be provided). Tony will disinfect the equipment after each use. Though there continues to be no access to the building, Tony can retrieve any documents you print.

Please note that laptop service is available only when Tony is on-site, and it's not raining. Folks are encouraged to make an appointment by calling or emailing the Library and then waiting for a response before visiting.

And finally, Marie Anderson reports that a small but enthusiastic crew attended Green Up Day. Hidden tickets were found by two of the Sluka kids, Abby Kaija, Bob and Esther Allen, and Annie Rubright! Thanks for everyone who helped make Reading a little greener.

Happy June all!

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

This column originally appeared in The Vermont Standard on June 4, 2020.

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