All posts by Sonja Hakala

I have been a professional writer since 1987. I've written for newspapers, magazines, worked in the book publishing industry, and published novels and non-fiction books. In addition, I've guided numerous authors through the process of independent publishing, and offer workshops in that same vein. I'm the founder of the Parkinson's Comfort Project and over the course of six years, we gathered and gave away over 500 handmade quilts to people with Parkinson's disease.

Snow Blowing: A Carding Chronicle

SH-Snow blowerWithin the village of Carding, Vermont, the Wolfe family is well-established.

The original members of this family were Kitty and Daniel, founders of the local newspaper (the Carding Chronicle). Their son, Danielson Wolfe, was elected Senator from Vermont for three terms. He and his wife, Caroline, raised their two daughters, Edie and Rose, in Washington, D.C. before returning to their beloved home town.

Edie now lives in the family home, a sturdy Victorian on the town green, and she’s the executive director of the Carding Academy of Traditional Arts. Her daughter, Diana, owns the Crow Town Bakery with her husband, Stephen Bennett. It’s located across the green from Edie’s house. They have two children, Will and Faye, both of whom are making their way through high school at the moment.

As I said, the Wolfe family are an integral part of life in Carding. I’m glad to say that Edie’s going to take over this weekly version of the Carding Chronicle for a few weeks while I finish up my next book. I’m sure she’ll take good care of you.

Here’s Edie’s first Chronicle of 2020. Enjoy!


There are times when I think that life in Vermont is all about winter—getting through it, getting prepared for it, and recovering from it. 

While tourists cherish our autumn colors (for good reason), what they fail to notice is all the scurrying among us locals as we hurry to get our gardens down, store our hammocks and lawn doodads, stack wood in its winter home, and take advantage of the annual sales on boots, coats, heavy socks, and mittens.

This fall, I finally admitted that my trusty old snow blower had died a good death and had to be replaced. I don’t need one for my driveway—my son-in-law Stephen takes care of that for me—but I like to take care of my own walkways and carve out spots for my dog, Nearly, to do his business. 

Which is why I’ve always kept a snow blower.

So I set out to find a good snow clearing machine with grips the right size for my hands. The first part was easy. The second part, not so much.

For some reason, manufacturers believe that only men clear snow so they make the grips that operate a snow blower’s auger so difficult to maneuver, my hands ache before they can get cold. That’s why I hung on to my old machine for so long. Its auger grip fit my hand.

My hunt began in August when all sensible people buy their new snow removal equipment. If you wait until Thanksgiving, nothing is on sale and the selection is pitiful.

I started off by doing a bit of research among the knowledgeable in Carding. That included Stan the Garage Guy, my son-in-law, my best friend Ruth who can sniff out a bargain better than anyone I know, and our can-do-anything, man-about-town, Amos Handy.

Of course, four people equals four opinions with some overlapping and some diametrically opposed to one another. 

Which is what I expected.

Ruth came with me on my shopping excursions and my grandson Wil supplemented our information-gathering with digs through the clutter of the internet. I finally fluttered down on a diminutive machine that not only fit my budget, it fit my hands.

Ruth and I were very happy with our find but according to the males in my life, my choice was either crazy, foolish or tragically uninformed.

“It’s too small to clear a walkway in one swipe,” Andy Cooper said as he examined my gleaming new purchase on the crisp October morning when I brought it home.

Amos Handy just happened to be passing by so, of course, he had to stop too. “Hmph, I see it’s one of those newfangled electric kind,” he said as he examined its stout recharging cord. “So what do you do if it dies in the middle of the yard?”

For an answer, I tilted the machine back on its wheels using only one hand, and pushed it back and forth. “I don’t go very far, Andy. Just in my yard. I can get it back into the garage easily enough if I have to,” I said.

“Hmph, and what if we have a power outage?”

“I wait until the power comes back on, just like everyone else,” I said.

And so the comments heaped up until we had our first real snowstorm this week. By that time, I admit I had become anxious and was starting to second guess my choice.

The clearing started when the white stuff measured six inches on the ground. But then the plow on Andy’s truck got stuck in its raised position, leaving the parking lot of Cooper’s General Store in a wretched condition for several hours while he struggled to fix it. Then Amos’s favorite snow blower suffered from a clogged carburetor so he had to shovel the walkway to his front door. And my son-in-law Stephen got so busy clearing his own parking lot and then helping Andy, he never got to my house until after dark.

Which at this time of year is about 3:00 in the afternoon.

I admit that I didn’t try very hard not to look smug as I clutched a cup of cocoa and waved at him from inside my kitchen as he struggled to beat back the snow. I hoped he noticed that all of my paths were clear and my new snow blower was relaxing in the garage, contentedly soaking up electrons while it recharged its batteries.


Welcome to Carding, Vermont where life always includes a dash of the unexpected. You can find the little town that no one can seem to find on a map right here in the Carding Chronicles and in the four novels of Carding, Vermont, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life, and Lights in Water, Dancing.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe to the Chronicle by clicking the link on this page. That way, you’ll never miss a story.

Snow Blowing

Within the village of Carding, Vermont, the Wolfe family is well-established.

The original members of this family were Kitty and Daniel, founders of the local newspaper (the Carding Chronicle). Their son, Danielson Wolfe, was elected Senator from Vermont for three terms. He and his wife, Caroline, raised their two daughters, Edie and Rose, in Washington, D.C. before returning to their beloved home town.

Edie now lives in the family home, a sturdy Victorian on the town green, and she’s the executive director of the Carding Academy of Traditional Arts. Her daughter, Diana, owns the Crow Town Bakery with her husband, Stephen Bennett. It’s located across the green from Edie’s house. They have two children, Will and Faye, both of whom are making their way through high school at the moment.

As I said, the Wolfe family are an integral part of life in Carding. I’m glad to say that Edie’s going to take over this weekly version of the Carding Chronicle for a few weeks while I finish up my next book. I’m sure she’ll take good care of you.

Tomorrow is Edie’s first Chronicle of 2020. Hope you can stop by to enjoy!

SH-Snow blower

A Fine Doggie Day: A Carding Chronicle

SH-Bird feederWinter storms always bring the possibility of school closings in deference to the bad-for-driving weather.

Of course, everyone has an individual reaction to these joyous and spontaneous holidays.

The snow is piling up. Let’s hover over Carding, Vermont for a little while, shall we?

Welcome to Carding, Vermont where life always includes a dash of the unexpected. You can find the little town that no one can seem to find on a map right here in the Carding Chronicles and in the four novels of Carding, Vermont, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life, and Lights in Water, Dancing.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe to the Chronicle by clicking the link on this page. That way, you’ll never miss a story.

——————————–

1:02 a.m.
Edie Wolfe raised her head from her pillow, trying to account for the strange hissing sound drifting in and out of her hearing range. It took a minute but then she realized that its intensity rose and fell with the wind.

“Great,” she muttered as she burrowed deeper under her quilt. “Wintry mix. Everyone’s favorite.”

3:17 a.m.
“Frank, what are you doing up?” Norrie Hitchcock called to her husband.

“Shhh, it’s all right,” he whispered from his post by a window. “I’m just checking road conditions one more time before I call off school.”

His wife sat up, squinting in the light of their digital clock. “Why aren’t you online looking at the VTrans report? What’s out the window?”

“Without the leaves on the trees, I can see the headlights moving along the interstate.” Frank leaned forward. “There’s hardly anybody out, and the ones I do see are moving like snails.” He picked up his phone. “We have only three snow days left before I have to add extra days at the end of the year so I just want to be sure.”

Norrie chuckled. “The kids in your daughter’s class have figured out that you’re the new superintendent and the guy who makes snow days happen. They believe that you slide our cat across the porch to see if she can stand up or not, and if she can’t, you call a snow day.”

Frank chuckled. “Really? Somehow, I can’t see Gracie letting me do that to her.” He pushed the send button on his email. “There, now all the radio stations know, the town manager, the principals, everyone. Now we can go back to bed.”

4:31 a.m.
“Whoo. I wish someone would figure out how to pre-heat these things,” Melvin Goode said as he hoisted himself into the seat of a town plow truck. He reached for the cup of coffee held by his assistant. “Seems like I always spend the first hour on the road freezing my butt off.”

“Maybe we should invest in some of those heating pads that you warm up in a microwave,” Bruce Elliott said. “My wife got a couple from Cooper’s store, and we’ve been using them in the car. They work great.”

Melvin stared at him for a minute. Even though he used the garage’s microwave to make popcorn and heat coffee, he still didn’t quite trust anything digital. “Huh, you don’t say. Bring me one. If they work, I’ll ask for tush warmers in my next budget. That ought to go over good at town meeting. Ha!”

6:47 a.m.
Edie listened to the murmur of news on Vermont Public Radio while she stirred cranberries into her oatmeal. Ever since the last Presidential election, she’d taken to draping a dish towel over her radio while the national news was on then whipping it off to catch the weather and local news. Reading national news was disturbing enough. Listening to it or watching it made her ill.

“Censorship does have its place,” she told her dog, reaching down to knead the hard-to-reach places behind Nearly’s ears. He sighed with contentment then shook himself awake, trying to figure out where he wanted to take his first nap of the day.

He finally decided on the deep window sill in the kitchen, the one that his human kept a pillow on for his convenience. (Edie was so thoughtful that way.)

He could see the back door and driveway from this vantage point, as well as one of the many bird feeders studded around the yard. He sighed as he watched the silent snow cover his private landscape. It was going to be a long but satisfying doggie day.


Remember, you can visit Carding any time by reading one of my four Carding novels, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life, or Lights in Water, Dancing.

Thanks for stopping by.