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  • Writer's pictureStephen D'Agostino

Fire Prevention and Pancakes Are On Tap This Weekend

On Tuesday, October 2, a date that will seem like eons ago when this is published, I attended a meeting that happens, sadly, only twice a year. As one of 25 or so members of the VPR Community Forum, I go to the station’s studio in Colchester and spend half a day brainstorming how VPR can better serve the state.

According to one of the board members, the most compelling thing about me when VPR reviewed my application wasn't my charm or wit, but the fact that I live in a small town. At this meeting all those days ago, we talked about many things, but one thing that seemed to keep popping up is the fate of places like Reading in the near and distant future.

So why am I telling you this, nine days after the meeting occurred? Because you, fellow small-town resident, can have your voice heard by the folks at Vermont Public Radio.

If you listen to VPR, you’ve probably heard promos for the “Tell Me More Tour.” The tour is coming to Windsor County, specifically Billings Farm in Woodstock, on Thursday, October 18, at 5pm. It’s your chance to tell VPR how it can better serve the needs of small towns like ours.

The “me” in the title of the tour is VPR president Scott Finn. I met him for the first time last week. He is engaging, charming, and a joy to talk with. I know he’ll be all ears when he stops by Billings Farm.

Incidentally, I tried to get VPR to have their Windsor County stop be in Reading. As incentives, I suggested a tour of the Hall Art Foundation and a stop by Jenne Farm to check out the foliage. My next offer was to be coffee and freshly baked cookies at my home. Before I could suggest it, the coordinator emailed me and told me the decision to have the meeting at Billings Farm had already been made. So if we can’t bring the VPR folks to Reading, let’s bring Reading to them!

Speaking of foliage on Jenne Road, apart from paying a short-lived game of chicken this morning with a driver who thought it was okay to drive her Pennsylvania-tagged car toward me on my side of the road, I don't have any tourist tales to share with you. It's been cold, cloudy, and damp, which, of course, is not the best the weather to bring out the crowds.

In my fourth fall in Reading, I’m still new enough to make fresh discoveries about this lovely season in this lovely place. Here are two. First, I’ve learned why the euonymus is also known as the burning bush. Not as stately as a maple, mine are particularly unshapely due to years of near neglect from me. No matter, the leaves are the reddest of any foliage I’ve seen this fall. I imagine if I ever get around to trimming them back, the tightened-up bushes will be even more striking.

Second, after months of reduced bird calls in the morning and throughout the day, I hear our winged friends all day long, starting around 6am, while it is, sadly, still dark. Their singing doesn’t match the fanfare that happens in May and June, but it is still impressive. Most of the birds I see and hear are in the sparrow family. This includes the white-throated sparrow and its familiar “Old Sam Peabody” call, a melodious tune I haven’t heard for months. These birds and their kind dart from bush to bush or from grass to tree all day long. Even as I write this, the burning bush branches are bobbing from the birds’ non-stop activity. These are two things that make me love fall even more.

Don’t forget two big community events happening this weekend that you may love. On Saturday, October 13, from 11am to 2pm, visit the Firehouse on Route 106 near Route 44 for the Fire Prevention Fair. It’s an informative and fun event to help you and your family be prepared in case of fire in your home. You can develop a Family Fire Safety Plan, pick up free smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and learn how to properly use a fire extinguisher. These essential devices are available for purchase at the fair. Free lunch is just another incentive, definitely the least important, to get you to stop by.

The Leaf Peeper Breakfast, sponsored by the Reading PTO, happens on Sunday, October 14, from 8am to 10:30am, at the Reading Elementary School. On the menu are pancakes, local eggs and bacon, and more. The cost is $20 for families, $8 for folks age 12 and up, $5 for children 5 to 11. Kids under 5 eat for free.

Finally, I know it’s only the middle of October, but now is a perfect time to put out a call for local crafters to participate in the third annual Reading Holiday Craft Fair sponsored by the Reading Historical Society. The fair happens on December 1 at Town Hall. We are looking for quality handmade crafts. The show has been a great success in its first two years, but the RHS is always looking to make it better. Won’t you help in that regard, you crafty folks out there? If you want more information, please email me at

Happy Birthday to Elliette Gould (October 12), and Happy Anniversary to Bill and me (also October 12).

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