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  • Stephen D'Agostino

Campfire and S’Mores at Puddledock Park

If you are a Front Porch Forum subscriber, I’m sure you saw—and chuckled at—all the posts regarding the over-abundance of squirrels in the area. I’ve noticed this population explosion too, and for the first time in my driving career (licensed for 35 years, but a regular driver for only 12 of those), I ran over a squirrel. Two actually. On the same day. Neither in Reading. I try to avoid animals crossing the road, but lately, I feel like I have a nervous twitch, swerving left and right while I’m behind the wheel to avoid a red squirrel here, a grey squirrel there.

The cause of the population spike, so says conventional wisdom, is the plethora of acorns from fall 2017. The little vermin had ample food to survive last winter—even those cold spells.

They’re in search of food now to survive this winter. Yesterday, I saw a red squirrel lugging an apple across Route 106 that was taller than it was. It could barely raise its head high enough to walk across the road. I heard a thump as I passed over it. The apple had become roadkill. The squirrel would have to start all over again.

No one is talking about the other beneficiaries of last year’s acorn abundance as noted by the oft-cited VPR story. In the past two weeks, we have helped a dozen or so mice in our house transition to a better place (not that our house isn’t nice, but you know what I’m saying without me actually saying it).

Unfortunately, those aren’t the only pests-in-abundance on our property. When I pulled out my carrots from the garden, 75% of them had been chewed to stubs by either moles, voles, or chipmunks. I can understand if it was a dry summer and the rodents were eating them for their water content. That's not the case this year. They haven't been eating our pumpkins yet—and they better not—but I check them every day.

Here we are in the last week of September. That means the last Puddledock Park Party is tonight, and the Reading Recreation Commission is planning to go out big. Tonight’s theme is Campfire and S’Mores. The sun sets at (gasp!) 6:38 tonight, so the fire will be inviting as the dark and cool set in. Festivities start, as always, at 5pm, but come when you can. We’ll be toasting marshmallows as a way to toast the end of the summer season, the last Puddledock Park Party, and toast in the glorious month of October.

However, before September ends, I want to let you know that friends, neighbors, and fellow antique dealers Jim and Sue Mulder of Liberty Hill Antiques and Nancy Stahura of Mill Brook Antiques will be presenting their antiques at the Vermont Antique Dealers’ Association Show at Stratton Mountain this weekend. The show is on Saturday from 8am to 5pm and Sunday from 11am to 3pm. If you’re not busy this weekend, consider a road trip! More details can be found by visiting and entering “antiques” in the search box.

On to October! Let’s see what’s going on during month number 10 in our town.

The penultimate First Friday of the year happens at the Hall Art Foundation on Friday, October 5, from 5pm to 8pm. As usual on First Friday, entry into the museum is free. You can take a self-guided tour of the exhibit halls and then have a tasty La Pizza Lupo pizza for dinner.

Don’t forget that Spring Brook Farm Open House happens on October 6 from 10am to 3pm. Games, demonstrations, cheese and maple sampling, wagon rides, a barbecue, cider pressing, and more are on the agenda. Sounds like a great day!

Then, one week later, on October 13 from 11am to 2pm, at the fire station on Route 106 near the intersection of Route 44, the Fire Department will be holding a Fire Prevention Fair. Now, I know “fire prevention” isn’t as commonly paired with “fair” compared to words like “craft” or “job” or “state,” but I would argue that none of the usual fairs are as important as this one. It’s unlikely that one of those fairs could save your life. But this one could.

At the fair, you and your family can make a Family Fire Safety Plan and learn fire safety tips and about common fire hazards. The kids can try to quickly dress in the gear that firefighters wear when responding to a call. It’s a game at the fair, but it’s so important to the firefighters when they get a call. Kids (and I suppose adults) can get their pictures taken with the fire trucks. At the fair, you can watch fire extinguisher demonstrations and purchase one for your home. Plus, you can pick up free smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Finally, given that the fair runs right through the noon hour, there will be free lunch while it lasts.

The very next day, October 14, is the Leaf Peeper Breakfast to benefit the Reading Elementary School PTO. This delicious event runs from 9am to 11am at the school.

Game Night happens at the library on Friday, October 19, from 6:30pm-8:30pm, featuring the usual indoor fun. And of course, one of Reading’s biggest nights of the year, Fright Night, happens on Halloween, October 31. More details to follow, but it’ll be here before you know it!

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