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  • Stephen D'Agostino

Puddledock Park Parties Continue Through September

By now, you've probably seen what you might consider the first signs of fall, either for real or on your favorite social media platform. In the virtual world, I've seen photos of yellow leaves on a patch of still bright-green grass and a dried-up skeleton of a maple leaf that looks like it skipped right past its starring role in life and died.

I don’t know much about trees, but those pieces of evidence seem to me like they fell from unhealthy maples. I notice a bit of color on the distant hillside as I head north on Jenne Road, but I think those trees are the exceptions, not the rule.

To me, the second sign that the season is changing is the burning bush outside my kitchen window. In the spring, I promised myself I would cut it back, but I didn’t. So this year, like last year, the bush is humongous. That makes it easy for me to see the leaves, especially those at the top, are beginning to have a rusty hue to them. In days or weeks, the entire bush will turn the most brilliant red, the color that gives the bush its name.

The most significant harbinger of fall, however, is the rapidly dwindling hours of daylight. Today, it’s just 13 hours and 1 minute. Those days when we had over 15 hours of daylight seem like yesterday.

I think you will agree it was a strange summer. It really didn’t seem to start until July. However, in these scant eight-or-so weeks, the season made up for lost time. Though short, it was glorious. My garden strove to catch up and produce beans, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, onions, and tomatillos. As usual, my squash stunk. I wonder why I continue to try.

How did your garden do? Have you been enjoying fresh produce? Has it made this short summer even sweeter?

Despite the sense of loss over summer, I think this is one of the most beautiful times of the year. The weather is usually pleasant, the humidity is low, the sky is a gorgeous blue, and the cooler nights are good for sleeping. Here’s one thing that’s not changing just because it’s September. Puddledock Park Parties continue for the entire month.

Tonight, for example, is Art in the Park with Lisa Kaija. We are all going to work on an installation that will go in the park as the Green Spaces Committee continues to refine the space and make our public green more beautiful and useful.

On September 12, the theme is '80s Dance Night. Dig out your leg warmers, your Izod polos with turned-up colors, slim neckties, and Members Only jackets—or don’t—and join the fun. I cringe at the fashions, now as I did then, but I do love 80s music!

September 19 is Open Mic Night. Bring something to read, including something you wrote or perhaps your favorite fall verse, a musical instrument to play a song, magic tricks, your favorite jokes, even something to show and tell. The park is yours, and we're all ears and eyes!

Finally, September 26 is the grand finale of the third Puddledock Park Party season, and these fun Thursday evenings are going out in style. The Reading Recreation Commission will be showing the movie A Night At The Museum under the stars. We'll also be making s' mores before the movie starts.

As a reminder, Puddledock Park is next to the library. The parties start at 6pm. Don’t forget to bring a chair or blanket to sit on, some snacks and drinks, and bug spray.

The Reading Recreation Commission has a day to take a breather after the last Puddledock Park Party, and then it's throwing a fun event for autumn, the Reading Fall Fair.

We’ll have food, of course, but also live music, a petting zoo, a build-a-scarecrow contest, carnival games, touch a truck, the maple jug challenge, and, the Ducky Derby.

If you’re wondering what touch a truck is, let me explain. There will be large trucks at the fair. Tractors, rescue vehicles, and maybe some of the equipment you’ve seen tending the roads around town. Kids love big trucks, right? This will be their opportunity to check them out up close.

Similarly, if you’re wondering what the maple jug challenge is, I’m here for you. It's a contest open to kids to see how long they can hold a jug of maple syrup at arm's length. It may sound easy, but a half-gallon of maple weighs five-and-a-half pounds, and a gallon eleven. The Reading Recreation Commission will offer prizes to the winners.

The Reading Fall Fair is a big event. It’s more than just the five rec commissioners can do on their own, so we’re asking for volunteers. Specifically, people who can handle the food tables, someone to time the kids who are taking the maple jug challenge, someone to help people get set up to build their scarecrows, and certainly other logistics. It’s not a ton of work, but it is a commitment. Your contribution, however small, will help the Reading Recreation Commission put on this event. The commission wants it to be something that we, the town of Reading, can be proud of. Maybe for a couple of hours, at the end of September, while we are all having fun, we can overlook the fact that the leaves really are changing and falling and that it is finally time to say goodbye to summer and hello glorious fall!

Happy birthday to Brendan Barbour (September 6), Rob Macri (September 7), Naomi Ameele (September 8), and Kelton Dutton (September 10).

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

This column originally appeared in The Vermont Standard on September 5, 2019.

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