Welcome to the Carding Chronicles, short stories and sketches about the small (but growing) town in Vermont that no one can quite find on a map of the Green Mountain State.
Even though it may be hard to find, you can visit Carding any time in my novels, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, and The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life. The fourth in the series, Coming Up for Air, will be out later this year.
You can subscribe to the Carding Chronicles by clicking the subscribe button on my home page. When you do, my stories will speed from me to you every Thursday without any further effort on your part.
Please share these with your friends, co-workers, and all the family members that you like best. I understand they go great with morning coffee.
Wil Bennett, the author and publisher of a daily news blog about Carding, recently persuaded his grandmother, Edie Wolfe, to try her hand at writing some meditations on gardening and the earthly life called the Weeding Diaries. This is her first attempt. Hope you enjoy.
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A friend of mine recently remarked that “winter isn’t really winter any more in Vermont.” I have to admit he’s right.
Not too many years ago, we’d get a first dusting of snow before Thanksgiving. Then over the next two weeks, the ground would wrinkle up and freeze, and by Christmas, we’d have our first snow blanket. Like magic, the whole town would sprout ice skates, hockey teams and bob houses on the lake, and snowshoes, sleds, and skis for the hills.
We’d play in our frozen paradise until the days lengthened in March, and the frost heaves and potholes of mud season made driving a car a lot like hopping around in a bouncy castle.
Fast forward a decade. Now our winter weather is best described as uncertain. We’ll get a clutch of cold days—perhaps a week here and there—but it’s not enough to freeze the lake thick enough to support an ice skater never mind a whole hockey team. This past winter, our snow cover completely disappeared and reappeared four or five times at least.
For those of us who remember real winters, this is just plain weird.
In spite of grumbling about our weather (a ritual held in high esteem throughout Vermont), in April we all start watching the ground as the snow disappears, looking for the first signs of plant life in our lawns, our gardens, and our woods.
Nothing moves too much until mid-April, and then the green world shifts into fast forward. After a bit of sun and a bit more rain, the fiddleheads (ostrich ferns, really) race to see who can unfurl the fastest. Dots of buttery yellow coltsfoot (no leaves, just small bits of bright color among the leaf litter) have appeared, and the lacy fronds of Dutchmen’s breeches brush our ankles as we walk past them on the footpaths that lead from the center of town down the hill to the mists ruminating on Half Moon Lake.
Every morning, I take a slow stroll through my gardens to assess their progress. It’s still a bit early to work in them because the frigid soil draws all the warmth from my hands, even when I wear gloves. Besides, I know that once I pull that first weed, my time will be at the gardens’ command so I’m putting it off a while longer.
It won’t be long now, though. Yesterday, the first dandelions fingered their way out of the ground to bask in the light and warmth in a sheltered crevice by my front door. In my panoply of garden goddesses, they are the true harbinger of spring, the opening game of the gardening season.
But it’s only one bunch for now so I think I’ll make a second cup of tea, sit on the front porch, and watch the grass grow a little longer.