• Stephen D'Agostino

Slots Still Available for Maple Cook-Off Contestants

Happy Mud Season! Or maybe it’s Happy First Mud Season. I don’t know for sure, but what I can tell you is that there has been a constant drip of water from my gutter (memo to me: clean the gutters when I can finally see the ground) as our winter world melts away in earnest. My road is a pitted, pooled mess.

Returning home at sunset last night, I was surprised that with my wheel turned to the right, I was still moving in a straight line, stuck in a rut, the remnant of someone else’s slippery slide up the slope. Still, if slippery roads are the price we have to pay for warmer weather, I think the trade-off is worth it.

It’s also nice to see all the sugaring activity going on around my road. Hi-Hollow Maples has their massive tank set up by Route 106. Its stark white bulk resembles a snow bank, but I know soon enough I’ll see a line of demarcation between air and sap within the tank and know that things are progressing!

Not being a sugar maker myself, I’m not versed in the lingo, but I do know that “fancy” was a classification used to describe syrup of golden color and delicate taste. That was before Vermont implemented a system in which all syrup is rated “Grade A” with an additional description to describe the color and taste.

You know what's lighter than fancy? With the words capitalized and tucked inside quotation marks, it's a Spencer Lewis song. He ended his first set at this month's concert in the Winter Concert Series. So with that segue, on behalf of the Reading Recreation Commission, the beneficiaries of the series, and the people who attended the show, I extend a hearty thank you to Spencer, Niles Franc, and Kevin Wright. They entertained a crowd of about 50 people with a set of music that was reflective for some songs and rocking for others. When people got up and moved a table so they could dance, Spencer commented that he'd never seen that at one of his shows.

March's concert was the third of four shows in the series. We'll have one more on April 13, for which the Rec Commission is still ironing out the details. When there is more information, I will share it here.

During the March show, some of our town’s artistic kids, under the guidance of Lisa Kaija, Lily Macri, and Aubrey Seman, created some clever, colorful posters to advertise an upcoming event. Specifically, the Maple Cook-Off, a benefit for the Reading Green Spaces Committee as they work to beautify Puddledock Park.

There are two ways you can participate. First, you could be a contestant. The committee is looking for people to bring a maple-infused dish in one of four categories: appetizer, salad or vegetable, entrée, and dessert. The slots are filling up, but the committee still needs contestants. The winner will take home a prize of… well, you’ll have to enter and try to win it. If you want to join the competition, let Jane Philpin know. She can be reached at jane.philpin@gmail.com.

If you’re not up for competing but are up for eating, participating in a community event, or supporting the beautification of Puddledock Park, then come and taste these delicious maple dishes and cast your vote for the best.

The Maple Cook-Off happens at Town Hall on Saturday, March 30, from 5pm to 7pm. Admission is $8 per person or $20 for families.

Do you want another Saturday event? How about three more? Okay, it's actually one event repeated three times.

Our librarian, Tony Pikramenos, wanted me to pass on that the free series of preschool story-times continues at Reading Public Library. The events happen at 10:30 a.m. on the following Saturdays: March 23, 30, and April 6. Children ages birth to five years and their caregivers are welcome. Call the library at 484-5588 if you need more information.

One more thing you can do on a Saturday is to start your seeds for your garden. Tony thought it might be a bit too early to remind people of the seed library. Take it from me, someone who started his brussels sprouts, celery and onions (all doing very well, thank you) on March 3: it's not too early.

Visit the library and browse the vegetable and flower seed collection in the catalog drawers. You’ll find a variety of heirloom and open-pollinated seeds. Check some out to yourself, as you would a book. You may take a total of six seed packets, one per plant type. Unlike when you borrow a book, you do not need to return those seeds. However, when you take the seeds home, you should also take at least one seed-return envelope.

Later, in August or September, after you've harvested a bumper crop of cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes, you can return the favor (though you are not obligated). Save some of the seeds and put them in the seed-return envelope you picked up on some dreary, rainy, mud-soaked March Saturday. Bring them back to the library so others can borrow them next year.

As with story-time, Tony's the guy to ask about the seed library. You can reach him at the number above.

Just don't call while he's entertaining the kids.

Happy birthday to Crystal Wiltshire (March 21), Paul Donald (March 22), Kim Allen (March 23), and Hayley Thomas (March 23).

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

This column originally appeared in The Vermont Standard on March 21, 2019.

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