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  • Stephen D'Agostino

It’s No Surprise That Reading Is A Warm, Welcoming Town

Surprise is a noun that means something that takes one unawares. First, Merriam-Webster, that’s a strange way to put it. Second, a surprise can be bad, like discovering a tick on you, which I did on Sunday after spending the day in the garden. However, the word seems to be used most often in relation to something good, like a surprise party, running into an old friend, or the barbecue surprise that Tom Brennan cooked up for the senior lunch last week. Bill and I decided to go based on the invitation’s inclusivity.

Though not a surprise, the warm and engaging company elicited the same feelings one might get from the happier uses of the term. We sat with three people, one of whom was Pat Vittum. I know who she is from the few times I greeted voters on various election days. The other two were Karen and Jules St. Arnaud. Before the meal was served, we were joined by Gail Emerson, whom I met last year when I dropped off clothes at the Food Shelf.

I introduced myself by first name only and then later included my last name. Pat said, “I’ve always wanted to meet you.” Pat has a connection to Bill and me. She used to live in the house we live in now. When she lived here, it was a ranch. The house looks nothing like that now. With pride, she spoke of our neighbors, the Rowlees, especially her great-grandchildren.

We got to talking about this column, and I described the feeling I just experienced: sitting down to a blank screen and wondering what to write. I told them that I just needed to get started, and the rest is easy. This week, thankfully, turned out to be no exception.

We chatted about turkeys, foxes, bears, motorcycles, and living life to the fullest. While we continued talking, enjoying each other's company, the other table, which was full, finished up their meals and left. Perhaps fearing that we were overstaying our welcome, we reluctantly wrapped up and said our goodbyes.

To our lunch friends, a warm thank you. It was a nice way to spend a Thursday. Plus, it was one more example of what makes Reading the special place it is. To Tom Brennan, Calista Brennan, Esther Allen, Diane Bennett, and Jim Bennett, thank you for all your hard work! The meal was delicious!

Here’s a bittersweet surprise I got last week. Though we no longer have the bird feeders out, early on Friday morning a big, beautiful rose-breasted grosbeak perched in the hemlock by the spot where the feeders usually are. I wonder if he was a regular at the feeder last year and remembered that we used to feed the birds, or was he simply passing through. Either way, it made me happy and sad to see him.

If you read my column last week, it’ll be no surprise that tomorrow night is the first outdoor Game Night! Like the indoor game nights that were held at the library, how you choose to enjoy the evening is up to you. The Recreation Commission will have wiffle balls and bats, soccer balls, horseshoes, and hula hoops. If you have a favorite outdoor game (bocce, anyone?), bring it! Also bring a lawn chair or blanket, snacks and drinks, and bug spray. The fun starts at 6:30pm.

If it rains, no problem! Leave the lawn chairs and bug spray at home and join us at the library for the same fun and frivolity that we’ve had for the last two months.

Good weather, or bad weather, June 1 is looking to be epic in town. It’s a Friday, so that means First Friday at the Hall Art Foundation from 5pm to 8pm. That's not all, though! The library will be open. Stop by for lemonade and fresh-baked cookies. The Reading Greenhouse will have extended hours and be offering a special—a perfect opportunity to get what you need for your weekend planting while meandering your way through Felchville. Finally, at 7pm, at the Reading Historical Society Museum, the society, as part of its 65th-anniversary celebration, will present Vermont History Through Song.

The concert will be performed by Linda Radtke, host of the VPR Choral Hour. According to the Vermont Humanities Council, which is co-hosting, Linda and pianist Arthur Zorn will bring "Vermont history to life with engaging commentary about the songs found in the Vermont Historical Society's collection of sheet music. Dressed in period costume and using the music Vermonters published and sang in their communities, Ms. Radtke guides listeners through our state’s history.”

Now, I know I jumped ahead to June, but let me remind you that if you forgot to take your hazardous materials to the transfer station last weekend, you still have time to do it this weekend. This week’s collection point is the Weathersfield station, so it’s a bit easier! For more information, visit

Happy birthday to Kyle Gould (May 22), Bill Bakker (May 22), Rolland Boisvert (May 23), Tara Barbour (May 23), and Selena Wiltshire (May 23).

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

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