• Stephen D'Agostino

Thanks to Those Who Made Halloween Seem More Normal

As I expected, I was up way early last Sunday morning due to turning back the clocks. With the full moon illuminating the house, it was easy to make it downstairs without turning on a light. It’s impossible to make coffee by the moonlight, so on went the kitchen lights.

My coffee maker is on a timer, which I had to adjust, so it doesn’t go on an hour earlier than it needs to. The clock on the stove also needed to be changed. Given the number of times we lose power, I’m a pro at that.

We don’t have a microwave, so no clock issues there. Bill managed the cuckoo clock the night before by stopping it for an hour, or, as I like to think about it, letting time catch up with it.

Other than that, every other clock changes itself, including the clocks in our cars. Watches are a different story. I wonder that since so many of our time-telling tools fix themselves when we manipulate the hours, does it make it harder for people to remember to change the batteries in their battery-controlled devices, the most important of these, of course, being smoke alarms.

Since daylight savings time lasts for two-thirds of the year, it's a good idea to change your batteries now. If you changed them when we moved the clocks ahead, they've been in for almost eight months. If you didn’t change them then, definitely do it now.

I know we’ve had a lot of other, possibly dark, thoughts on our minds lately, but I haven't heard anyone bemoan the earlier sunsets. Though I would prefer to be on daylight saving time year-round, I don't mind it getting dark early. Eventually, the sun will set shortly after four, but that’s part of the trade-off for living in this part of the world. From the depths of darkness, hope heightens as the days begin to get longer, even as the weather continues to get colder.



I am getting way ahead of myself, though. Let me backtrack and give a huge thank you to all the folks who helped make sure the pandemic didn’t ruin Halloween. The Town Hall lot had eight vehicles (and their owners) participate in Trunk-or-Treating, which is the most we've ever had. People giving out candy abided by the rules and kept their distance from the trick-or-treaters. The candy-seekers also did a terrific job of using face coverings properly and not crowding each other. As one Trunk-or-Treater noted, the scene seemed similar to what one sees at a grocery store. Except we weren’t in a confined space.

There were many unfamiliar faces around town, unknown by me because of the masks or because I have a hard time remembering faces. I think more folks than usual came by from neighboring towns. It was nice that Reading was able to give people a taste of normalcy in these crazy times.

Now that it is November, and I've finally finished my outdoor chores, I am looking forward to doing some of my favorite pastimes, one of which is knitting. And since I am the co-lead of the Ottauquechee Health Foundation's Share the Warmth campaign, I’ll be purling with purpose. Knitting, too, of course.

The response from knitters and crocheters has been fantastic. In fact, we’ve had over 40 people from the area that the OHF serves (Barnard Bridgewater, Hartland, Killington, Plymouth Pomfret, Reading, and Woodstock) and beyond commit to making hats, scarves, and mittens for distribution to people in need in our area.

The event started on October 15 and will run through December 30, so we are halfway through. There is still time to join and get making. If you’d like to help out with this effort, you can email me (stephen.d.dagostino@gmail.com) or visit the OHF website (ohfvt.org) for more information.

With knitting and reading and writing to catch up on, I will enjoy this time of the year. However, this year, bringing life inside means we lose one of the things that has kept us safe during the pandemic: opportunities to live life outside.

As the weather gets colder and snowier and the pandemic unfortunately retrenches, we need to keep strong and determined. Many folks picked up new hobbies in the first part of this strange journey, including some indoor projects like baking and (ahem) knitting. Summer saw the rise of bike sales, people hitting the trails, and socially distanced gatherings on lawns and at parks.

With fresh snow coming, is this the year you take up snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or alpine skiing (carefully for so many reasons)? Do you buy that winter-ready jacket and go on hikes? Do you load the family in the car and go for a drive, dazzled by how brilliant sun on snow is?

Whatever you do, do not succumb to pandemic fatigue. Stay vigilant. Stay healthy. Stay sane.

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


This column originally appeared in The Vermont Standard on November 5, 2020.

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