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  • Stephen D'Agostino

Historical Society to Begin Speaker Series in June

I was scanning my old columns to see what I’d written about in past middle-of-Mays. Back on May 17, 2017, or two years ago tomorrow, I talked about hearing the morning chorus. For those of you unfamiliar with that term, it refers to the lovely cacophony of birds in the early morning around sunrise. It’s a term that Bridget Butler, the Bird Diva and the co-host of the Vermont Edition Bird Show on VPR, first turned me on to, even though I’ve experienced it in every place I’ve lived to some extent. Even in New York City, I heard a pair of cardinals dueting in the pre-dawn during that brief period of Manhattan springs when you could have the window open during those few weeks after the air was no longer too biting and before it got too hot, requiring the air conditioner.

Sadly, I can say that I haven’t really experienced the morning chorus yet this year. Sure, my robin friend is still outside the window in the morning. The sunrise has invaded the night so that even at 5am when the bird is well into its music making, I can at least see the tree from which he or she is performing.

Part of the problem could be that my windows are still closed since it has yet to feel very springy. Oddly, the bird activity seems to have declined over the past few weeks. I no longer see the pair of robins in the yard. The phoebe that was scouting the deck for a nest has moved on. I hear wrens during the day, but I don’t see them.

I’m still up early in the morning, and I listen with hope and anticipation that I will hear the chorus in all its glory.

Another sign of spring that is specific to Reading is the scheduling events to happen at the Reading Historical Society Museum. While the details are still being worked out for the museum's summer open hours, I can tell you that the speaker series returns to the museum this year.

There will be two presentations, and the first one happens on June 7. It’s called "Hollywood vs. Vermont: 100 Years of Vermont in Film.” According to the Vermont Humanities Council, which is co-sponsoring the event with the Reading Historical Society, “Vermont has been a featured location in Hollywood movies for nearly a century. It has represented many different ideals during that time, and its portrayal reflects both Vermont's own history as well as American history. Examining those films provides interesting and fun insights into the hold Vermont has had on imagination in the media age. Amanda Kay Gustin of the Vermont Historical Society will provide background and share clips ranging chronologically from 1919's Way Down East to 2005's Thank You for Smoking.”

Off the top of my head, I can only think of two movies that have a Vermont connection—more specifically, a Reading connection—Forest Gump and Funny Farm. It will be interesting to learn about other movies filmed in Vermont or which depict Vermont. It will also be interesting to learn how accurate the portrayals are.

As a recap, the talk happens at the Reading Historical Society Museum on Friday, June 7, at 7pm. The talk coincides with the first First Friday of the season at the Hall Art Foundation, so why not go there first, and then come to the historical society’s talk?

How will out-of-towners know that they've reached the home of the Hall Art Foundation and the Reading Historical Society Museum? Welcome to Reading signs will help, of course. As you know, we as a town voted to have four of them installed at the north, south, east, and west borders of Reading. The signs won’t be up to welcome people to our town for the talk on June 7; the funds to begin the project won’t be available until July 1, the start of the fiscal year. However, the committee, a reliable source tells me, is seeking donations to help defray the cost of the signs. If you remember from Town Meeting, the solicitation of donations was a topic of discussion as part of the lively debate around the signs.

If you would like to make a contribution in any amount towards the welcome signs, you can send a check made out to “Town of Reading.” Please note “Town Signs” in the memo field. Send the check to Town of Reading PO Box 72 Reading, VT 05062. You can, of course, also drop the check off at Town Hall if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

The town will look good for First Friday and the welcome signs, thanks to all of those who pitched in during Green Up Day. Marie Anderson would like to thank everyone who participated. She also asks that you email her at and let her know how many bags of trash you collected so she can pass this information to the Green Up organization.

Don’t forget that tomorrow is the first outdoor Game Night of the season. We’ll be at Bartley Field, with a rain location of the library. The fun starts at 6:30pm. Also, remember that it is a potluck barbecue, so bring some food for your family and some to share. See you there!

Happy birthday to Kyle Gould (May 22) and Bill Bakker (May 22).

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

This column originally appeared in The Vermont Standard on May 16, 2019.

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