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  • Writer's pictureStephen D'Agostino

Build-A-Scarecrow Contest Kicks Off This Weekend

When Bill and I were looking at houses in this area, we came across the white house on Jenne Road just down the hill from us on just about every internet search we did. Though I loved its classical style, it didn’t feel quite right for us.

The house we bought did feel right. Nearly six years later, it feels even more right.

It took some time for the white house to sell, or to say it more spiritually if you will, for the house to find the right owner.

During walks or drives up and down Jenne Road, I’d seen two cars parked on the side of the road. Another neighbor met the owners of the cars—and the house—and passed me their contact information. We emailed a few times, and one day, I met Brian Cali, one of the owners, as he was getting in his car. We chatted for a bit and planned to meet on Saturday morning when his wife, Sophie Evett, would be there.

Bill and I joined Brian and Sophie for tea in their screened-in porch that morning. Brian and Sophie told us they had a connection with the Reading area. For over 20 years, they had been camping in Plymouth. During a sabbatical from her teaching job at Salem State College, Sophie and Brian rented a house in Bridgewater. They were both 25 when they got married, so they celebrated their 50th birthdays and their 25th wedding anniversary in this area. Life continued to draw them back to this part of Vermont, so they decided to look into buying property.

Brian and Sophie weren’t so much seeking a house, though. Instead, the property took priority. The woods around the home on Jenne Road told a story of proper maintenance that intrigued them. Due to careful logging and clearing, the woods were healthy and vibrant. They felt that they could be stewards of this land, that they could help maintain and improve its pristine condition. Brain said he envisions cleaning up the trails in the woods and mapping them.

They also told us of a connection to the house through their faith. Sophie and Brian are Unitarian Universalists, as was the man who built the house in 1782. The home’s builder invited Hosea Ballou to the property to preach. Hosea was an early influential Unitarian who later led a congregation in Boston.

Finally, there is a connection to the house through their education. In the barn, Brian and Sophie found a Cornell diploma. The family that had owned the home before them had several Cornell alumni. With Brian and Sophie as the new owners, that lineage continues.

As they settle into their house, Brian and Sophie have plans on doing renovations, including upgrading the heating system and insulation so that they can enjoy it year-round. In the meantime, they are settling into the area. They have found the community warm and welcoming, even during these strange times. Their story seems similar to ours about the welcome we received when we moved onto Jenne Road.

Hours after Bill and I had tea with Brian and Sophie, we saw them again at Puddledock Park for the showing of Shrek. Turnout was good, and the evening was beautiful, almost summerlike. Sometimes, the Recreation Commission loses with the weather, and sometimes it wins.

It won on Sunday when the Rec ran the Ducky Derby. Because of the drought-like conditions, the race was run at 20-Foot Hole on a short and speedy course. Thanks to everyone who bought tickets and to the businesses and the people who donated the 50 prizes.

Though the Recreation Commission would hope for warm weather and sunshine this Saturday, the event they have planned is decidedly fall in nature. Saturday kicks off the beginning of the Build-A-Scarecrow Contest in town. If you recall from last year, Route 106 was crowded with creative scarecrows. There were over 20, in fact.

The Recreation Commission is sponsoring the event again this year, and it would like the whole town to participate, as it did for the Reading Safari. You can kick off your creative endeavor by joining the Reading Recreation Commission at noon on Saturday to pick up some clothes, donated by the Reading/West Windsor Food Shelf, for your creation. There will also be posts for you to support your scarecrow.

You don’t have to attend the Kickoff Party to be part of the contest. If you have all you need to create your scarecrow, have at it! And even though you may not need supplies to make your scarecrow, you may still want to come to the park.

There will also be live music from Bluegrasoles, a concert rescheduled from August when the weather wasn’t on the Rec Commission’s side. The band playlist is inspired by Americana, rock, folk, and blues. And, to sweeten the deal quite literally, the Recreation Commission will have fall-themed pastries and cider. I hope to see you there!

Finally, one more event at Puddledock Park. On October 10, at 4pm, the Reading Green Spaces Committee will hold a dedication ceremony for the park, its new tree, and its new sign, which will be installed in the next week. We encourage everyone to come by and check out the improvements at the town's park. There will be some more fall-themed refreshment because who can say no to cookies and cakes flavored with pumpkin or apples and spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. Happy fall, indeed!

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

Don’t forget to send me story ideas for The Reading Review. My contact info is below.

Stephen is a writer, gardener, baker, and owner of Strataco Marketing. He is on the board of directors of the Reading Historical Society, the Reading Recreation Commission, and the Reading Green Spaces Committee, and the board of trustees for the Ottauquechee Health Foundation. You can reach him at, at 917-859-0238, or on Twitter @stephendag.

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