Category Archives: Carding Chronicles

Short stories about Carding, Vermont

The Pirates of Pendennis

SH-Cornish pastyEvery year, Edie Wolfe takes a vacation with her younger sister, Rosamund. Most of the time, they rent a cottage on one of the Champlain Islands or travel up to Montreal, Quebec.

But this year, they decided to treat themselves to a long vacation in England. They’ve been talking about doing this for years.

Of course, Edie is writing emails home and sending pictures to her family and friends.

I thought you would enjoy reading them too.

I hope you enjoy today’s Carding Chronicle. Please share it with your friends.

Carding is a fictional town in Vermont that’s celebrated in four novels (so far). You can find links to them all after Edie’s description of her travels in England.

This week, Edie and Rosie are enjoying themselves in Falmouth in Cornwall.


Hello folks,

Rosie and I are now in Cornwall, in the city of Falmouth so named because it sits on the mouth of the River Fal.

I think I’m in love. Living in Vermont gives one a fine appreciation for land that rises and falls (see below) and the flattest thing in this charming place is the river. Or maybe the main thoroughfare which goes by the name of High Street or Market Street or Church Street, depending what part of it you’re walking on.

Falmouth landscape
View of Falmouth, England rising from its main thoroughfare, High Street.

It was rather rainy the day we arrived so we decided to make it a museum day. Falmouth is the home of the wonderful National Maritime Museum which details the amazing history of the port and has a Pirate School for kids.

Piracy in this part of the world is not the stuff of legend, it’s the stuff of reality. Piracy was big business here for decades, especially during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The long arm of her navy did not extend this far west so the men (and some women) who called Falmouth home took what they wanted, when they wanted, and where they wanted.

And yes, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that Elizabeth (and her minions) looked the other way quite a lot because many of the victimized ships were Spanish.

Aye, there’s the rub.

Pirates may be regarded as either thieves or entrepreneurs, depending on what side of the mainmast you’re standing. If you were a Spaniard during the Tudor era, you’d describe the pirates of Falmouth as bloodthirsty thieves. But if you were the British Royal Navy, you’d be glad of them because you benefited from the pirates’ boat-building skills. They were innovators in the craft, and as their knowledge spread through the Elizabethan world, the British navy’s ships (and their sailors) became the masters of the world.

(There’s a superb book about the history of Falmouth and the origins of its piracy called the Levelling Sea by Philip Marsden—highly recommended.)

This is a good example of something my father used to say: “At the base of every fortune is a crime.”

Pendennis Castle
Pendennis Castle, Falmouth, England

After our trip to the museum, the winds changed so that we could hike up to Pendennis Castle. Built by King Henry VIII, Pendennis is situated on a high bluff right at the mouth of the Fal and the view from up there is stunning. (see below)

Harbor from Pendennis Castle
View of the Fal River as it meets the sea from Pendennis Castle in Falmouth, England

This spot has been used and abandoned more than a few times, including during World War II. It is now maintained by the good folks of English Heritage. We roamed all over the inside and outside of Pendennis (those stone spiraling staircases gave me pause because they’re so narrow and steep), and then settled in with the crowd to enjoy two men who showed off the boom and bang (and it is LOUD) of the guns and cannons used during the Tudor period.

Yeah, the kids loved it.

I think I could spend a lifetime here in Cornwall and never have enough hours in the day to thoroughly enjoy everything this special place has to offer. Because it reaches so far out into the sea, Cornwall benefits more from the Gulf Stream than any other place in England. That means you can grow just about anything here and they’ve got the gardens to prove it.

Camellias at Trelisik
Dogwoods at Trellisick Garden in Cornwall

We’ve been to three of them: the idyllic Trebah, the subtropical Trelissick (Lowarth Trelesyk in the Cornish language), and the amazing Eden Project.

Our AirBnB host here in Falmouth is Kevin Bishop, and he was kind enough to introduce us to his parents, Janet and Brian, who brought us to Trebah. There’s a great winding path up, down and around the slope that takes you to the sea. The gardens are full of rhododendrons, waterfalls, monkey puzzle trees, and incredible plantings.

One of the great differences between what I think of as American gardening and British gardening is the English use of shrubs and trees which, to my eyes, makes a far more interesting landscape. I know I couldn’t possibly grow most of what we’re enjoying here but I can sense more shrubs in my future once I’m back home in Carding.

The Eden Project is as much a wonder to visit as it is a wonderful story. In 1995, this spot in St. Austell was a clay pit, rather desolate and played out. But Tim Smit and a team of invaluable friends and advisors had an idea that grew out of their work together in the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Smit and company had been so inspired by Heligan, they wanted to continue their work and build an ecological showcase that not only brought people and botanicals together, it would be proof that reclamation and recovery of the land and soil is possible.

Biodomes-Eden Project
Biodomes at the Eden Project, St. Austell, Cornwall

There are a lot of lessons to be learned here.

Eden opened in March of 2001 and by June of that year, over a million people had visited. Since then, this spot has grown in size and in the number of avenues visitors can explore. You can stay here, go to school here to earn a degree in sustainability or work as an apprentice among many other options.

Heather in bloom at Eden Project
Heather in bloom on the walkway to the biodomes at the Eden Project, St. Austell, Cornwall. And yes, it smells heavenly.

The centerpiece of the project are the two enormous biomes (pictured above) that rise from the earth. From a distance, they look like mounds of soap bubbles. One of them—the Rainforest Biome—houses the largest “rainforest in capitivity,” as the Edenites say, while the second—the Mediterranean biome—displays an amazing variety of plants that like hot, dry weather from cacti to cork trees and the grasses of Australia to tulips.

Bee sculpture-Eden Project
Huge wooden bee sculpture outside the biodomes at the Eden Project, St. Austell, Cornwall

What an amazing place!

Dragon at Eden Project
A friendly dragon at the Eden Project, St. Austell, Cornwall

Back in Falmouth, we took the recommendation of our host and spent the day on a cruise from the Prince of Wales dock up the river  to the ancient city of Truro. These Enterprise boats function as hop-on, hop-off trips so we hopped off to visit Trelissick Gardens.

Falmouth from river Fal
View of Falmouth from an Enterprise boat, Cornwall.

Okay, I’m running out of adjectives to describe the gardens here—wide sweeps of lawn with a view to the River Fal and the sea beyond, stone-sided paths guarded by trees and trees and trees of all varieties, riotous color among the shrubs, a beautiful house that’s being restored by the National Trust…and…and… (see below)

House at Trelisik
Conservatory of the house at Trelissick Gardens, currently being renovated by the National Trust, Cornwall, England.

 

Rosie and I were in raptures.

And then there was the easygoing trip back to Falmouth by boat where we treated ourselves to a supper of Cornish pasties (pronounced pass-teas) at an Oggy Oggy.

Oggy Oggy is a chain of restaurants in this part of the world that specialize in pasties. Gawd they were good.

By the way, no one’s quite sure where the term “oggy oggy” comes from. Some believe it’s a Cornish word or phrase meaning pasty while others believe it comes from a common cheer that you hear at soccer games where one side yells “oggy, oggy, oggy” and the other side replies “oy oy.”

Nope, doesn’t make any sense to me either.

Kevin has been a great guide to Falmouth and Cornwall. He was born in this city and it is easy to see how much he loves this enchanting place. We spent the better part of a day with him as he introduced us to rugby (more interesting than I ever expected) and then took us over to the north coast of Cornwall where we walked Gwithian Beach. You can see Godrevy Lighthouse from here. If you’ve ever read Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, this is the spot that inspired her.

Rugby game-Penzance
A rugby match in Penzance, Cornwall. The home town team, the Pirates, won.
Gwithian Beach
Gwithian Beach on the north coast of Cornwall.

Yeah, I’m totally in love, can you tell?

Unfortunately, our week here is coming to and end. But Rosie and I have already promised ourselves to come back.

Oh, one more note before I close—if you think that Americans love their dogs, you’ve never been to England. Canines rule here. (See below.)

Love until next time,
Edie

Brits and their dogs
The British people are totally in love with their dogs. This was not the only canine we saw being wheeled about in a pram.



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, Lights in Water, Dancing, is now available for your reading pleasure.

You can subscribe to the Carding Chronicles by clicking the subscribe button on my home page. When you do, my stories speed from my keyboard to your inbox every Thursday morning without any further effort on your part.

If you’d like to get in touch, my email address is: Sonja@SonjaHakala.com.

Pasties and Pirates—Aaarrr!

Every year, Edie Wolfe takes a vacation with her younger sister, Rosamund. Most of the time, they rent a cottage on one of the Champlain Islands or travel up to Montreal, Quebec.

But this year, they decided to treat themselves to a long vacation in England. They’ve been talking about doing this for years.

Of course, Edie is writing emails home to Carding, Vermont along with pictures of her adventures with Rosie.

This week, Edie and Rosie are enjoying themselves in Falmouth in Cornwall.

Here’s a yummy sample of tomorrow’s Carding Chronicle. Please share it will all your friends—or anyone who loves good food.

SH-Cornish pasty

Did You Know It Rains in London?

SH-London EyeEvery year, Edie Wolfe takes a vacation with her younger sister, Rosamund. Most of the time, they rent a cottage on one of the Champlain Islands or travel up to Montreal, Quebec.

But this year, they decided to treat themselves to a long vacation in England. They’ve been talking about doing this for years.

Of course, Edie is writing emails home and sending pictures to her family and friends.

I thought you would enjoy reading them too.

Carding is a fictional town in Vermont that’s celebrated in four novels (so far). You can find links to them all after Edie’s description of her travels in England.

I hope you enjoy today’s Carding Chronicle. Please share it with your friends.


Dearest folks,

Rosie and I are at the end of our first week in England and I have to tell you that the word “whirlwind” has taken on a new meaning for us. As you can imagine, every turn we take in London reveals something more fascinating than the turn before and we’ve been neck-deep in history ever since we landed at Gatwick Airport.

Our AirBnB hosts, Leigh and Mary Parker, could not be nicer, pointing us in the right direction while explaining the inexplicable. In spite of that, we’ve still managed to get turned around more than once but we quickly discovered that if you stand still and look woebegone, someone will stop to ask: “Are you lost? Can I help you?”

First things first, of course, so we were out buying umbrellas and Oyster Cards right away. Oyster Cards function like gift cards, and are used on the trains, the tube, the buses, and the ferries (known as Thames Clippers) that carry people all over London. There’s a rumor that the umbrellas will keep you somewhat dry while you’re doing that.

Rosie and I have become particularly fond of the Thames Clipper service. We’re staying not too far from Greenwich (with its Royal Observatory and a HUGE park and the Cutty Sark and a great street market) and there we can board the ferries that take us through the heart of London without traffic or crowds. It’s a great way to sightsee.

So let’s get to some of our pictures!

London Eye
The London Eye seen through the window of a Thames Clipper

Cue the theme from Sherlock. That’s what I hear in my head every time I see the London Eye. This picture (above) was taken through the window of a Thames Clipper. It’s the best way to see the whole thing. And yes, it turns so slowly you have to watch carefully to see it move.

During our research for this trip, we found lots of recommendations for Borough Market so we wandered around until we found it.

Borough is built, literally, under London Bridge, spilling out onto some of the adjoining streets. Vendors have been selling their wares here for a thousand years and the place is packed with buyers for the incredible cheese (see below), produce, fish, breads, coffee, spices, and eatables of all sorts.

Cheese at Borough Market
Checking out the cheese in Borough Market, London, England

Borough Market is located in the section of London known as Southwark (pronounced suth-ick). Like many places in England, Southwark centers around a cathedral of the same name. This is the part of London where William Shakespeare hung out and the replica of his Globe Theatre and the Tate Mordern Museum are just a short walk from the church. Along the way, we found this street performer playing “Singin’ in the Rain” on a tuba that spouted flames.

Yeah, I know. Go figure.

Flaming tuba-London
Street performer outside the Tate Modern Museum in London, England. He was playing “I’m Singin’ in the Rain.”

As you stroll through the city streets, you can brush medieval walls with your fingertips and find clots of Roman stonework here and there.

I am getting such a kick out of this.

Next day, we rode the Clipper once again, this time further up the Thames to Westminster pier where we planned to visit the abbey of the same name.

Juggle in Covent Garden-London
Juggler in Covent Garden, London, England

Rosie and I decided to take the long way ’round to squeeze our way through Covent Garden where we caught the last part of this juggler’s act (above). Yep, that’s a man balancing on a ladder while he talks and juggles and removes articles of clothing. We found out that the women in the information booth that’s on the edge of the performance area have a regular bet on what color underwear our juggling man will be wearing each day.

Seems that pink was the color of the day.

From Covent, we located Westminster Abbey queued up to get inside. While we waited, I spotted this sign for Saint Margaret’s Church, a small place of worship next door.

St. Margaret's Church sign
Sign outside St. Margaret’s Church next to Westminster Abbey, London, England

This simple stone structure is beautiful in its lack of ostentation. But what really caught my eye was this sign explaining who some of its past parishioners were.

I want to draw your attention to a particular name that you may not know but you should. That’s Caxton, as in William Caxton, the first person to print books in the English language. In fact, he translated the first book of fiction and the first work of non-fiction into the English language.

I know that bumper stickers like to claim that “if you can read this, thank a teacher.” But strictly speaking, that’s not correct. You should really be thanking William Caxton. Before he revved up his printing press in this area of London, English speakers were just that—speakers. Now when all communication is oral, you don’t need to concern yourself with spelling or grammar or punctuation. But as soon as you want to communicate via the printed word, the writer and the reader have to agree that the only way to spell “apple” is “a-p-p-l-e.” Otherwise, you can’t understand one another.

So Caxton, in his role as printer, started the process of regularizing our common tongue on paper.

Can you imagine setting out to do that? By the way, he’s responsible for some of the quirky spellings we still have in English such as ghost, through, rogue, and thought as well as common words such as happiness, achievement, gardening, and pottery.

Very important man, and now you know his name.

Rosie and I got separated as we wound our way through the abbey because I lingered in the Poets Corner for quite a while drinking in the names of authors whose work I have cherished my whole life like George Eliot and Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

When I finally rejoined her outside, she pointed above our heads at one of the sculptures over the front door. “Did you know there was a statue of Martin Luther King Jr. here?” she asked.

Martin Luther King Jr-London
Statue of Martin Luther King Jr. above the front door of Westminster Abbey, London, England

I didn’t. The fact that the British honor King made me feel wistful. Throughout history, we have martyred our oracles and paladins, have we not? The living, breathing human being would be so preferable to the statue.

The next day, we decided to take a break from the London crowds to spend some time in Greenwich. What a splendid small city.

Our walk through the royal park ended at the Royal Observatory (below). Not only is the history of the chronometer on display (what a profoundly important development in the history of human kind), there are dozens of small and large astrolabes. I fell in love with these artifacts and their lovely curving designs and intricate engravings. There’s something rather wizard-like to them.

Royal Observatory-Greenwich
The Royal Observatory, Greenwich, England

Then we wandered down the hill, watching the London skyline grow ever larger on the horizon, until we reached the National Maritime Museum. Of all its displays, it was the wide variety of figureheads that I enjoyed most. (below) Then it was into Greenwich town proper.

Figureheads-Greenwich
Display of figureheads in the Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England

Rosie and I have a habit of wandering down narrow streets because there’s always something interesting to find along the way. This picture (below) was in the window of an art gallery that we passed on the way to Greenwich market where I bought my first souvenir, a small dragon fashioned out of copper wire.

Art in Greenwich
Art in window of gallery in Greenwich, England

Of course, this is just a wee squidge of what we did all week. I have to say, I am so enjoying the British people. They are helpful and smart and witty. I don’t think we’ve had a conversation yet when we didn’t end up laughing.

And then there’s the beer and great fish and chips and cream teas and really old buildings next to very new ones…and eating lunch in a 500 year old restaurant…and…and…

…we’re off to Falmouth in Cornwall on the train in the morning—the land of pirates and pasties (that’s pass-teas, not the things that strippers wear).

Will write soon!

Love,
Edie


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, Lights in Water, Dancing, has just been published! You can find them all on Amazon or you can order them through your local independent book store.

You can subscribe to the Carding Chronicles by clicking the button on my home page. When you do, my stories speed from my keyboard to your inbox every Thursday without any further effort on your part.

If you’d like to get in touch, my email address is: Sonja@SonjaHakala.com.

Edie Wolfe Does London

Every year, Edie Wolfe takes a vacation with her younger sister, Rosamund. Most of the time, they rent a cottage on one of the Champlain Islands or travel up to Montreal, Quebec.

But this year, they decided to treat themselves to a long stay in England. They’ve been talking about doing this for years.

Of course, Edie is writing emails home and sending pictures to her family and friends.

I thought you would enjoy reading them too.

Here’s a taste of tomorrow’s Carding Chronicle. Please share it with your friends.

SH-London Eye

 

Inspiration

Singing robin at Eden Project
Robin singing at the entrance to the Eden Project, Cornwall, England

My husband and I recently spent seven weeks traveling in England. It was a trip that we’d talked about and planned for a long time.

I came home with almost 2,000 pictures, a treasure trove that includes “the sights” as well as images of geometric designs that will eventually  become zentangles or quilt blocks.

Expecting anyone but us to sit through 2,000 photos is a bit over the top, wouldn’t you agree? But I didn’t want to shove these memories away in a digital drawer never to be seen again.

So I decided to send one of my favorite Carding characters, Edie Wolfe, on a trip to England with her younger sister Rosamund. The two of them get along so well that I knew they’d have a good time.

Edie, of course, is sending emails and pictures back home to her family and friends in Carding, and that includes you. Over the next four weeks, she’s going to take you to England.

Enjoy the journey!

London St. James Park house
Caretaker’s cottage in St. James Park, London, England

 

And the People of Carding Danced

There are so many summer pleasures in Vermont it’s like being at an all-you-can-eat buffet with all your favorite foods.

But summertime concerts on a town green have got to be at the top of everyone’s pleasure list. Lawn chairs, sunsets, picnics, the joy-squeals of children, and the mix of generations reminds us all how much we have in common.

In Carding, Vermont, music-on-the-green concerts start at the end of June and finish up just before Labor Day. Tomorrow’s Carding Chronicle takes you there for the last concert of this season.

I hope you’ll stop by tomorrow and in the meantime, here’s a sample of what’s in store.

SH-Carding danced

Best Fair Ever: A Carding Chronicle

SH-Kilowatt ParkOne of my favorite movies of all time is Shakespeare in Love. There’s a historical character in the film named Philip Henslowe (played by Geoffrey Rush). In real life as in the film, Henslowe was a theatrical entrepreneur.

In the film, Henslowe is deeply in debt and he’s being chased by those who want to be paid. As one thing after another happens to keep Henslowe from keeping his promises, the debit collector asks: “How are you going to pull this off?”

To which Rush’s Henslowe always answers: “It’s a mystery.”

I think that that sentiment is true of community theater, art exhibits, concerts, and fairs. Somehow, in some way, it will all come together in the end and the show or Fair will go on.

But how we get there is a mystery.

I hope you enjoy the final Carding Chronicle about the annual Carding Fair. And please be sure to invite your friends.

Thanks.


“Mom, come on, open up,” Sarah Goodwin called as she rapped on her mother’s front door. “I know you’re in there. What’s going on?”

Ruth Goodwin glared at her beagle R.G., daring him to make a peep. But he ignored her warning, as she knew he would, and set up a joyous howl to greet Sarah. She always carried his favorite dog biscuits.

“Mom, you do remember that you gave me a key to your house, right?” Sarah said as she stood on the front stoop shaking her head. Her mother really drove her nuts sometimes. “I’m counting to ten and then I’m coming in there. One…two…”

The door opened slowly. Ruth was still in her bathrobe and slippers, an unheard-of circumstance at ten in the morning. Mother and daughter scowled at one another for an elongated moment before Sarah broke the silence.

“The least you could do is offer me a cup of decaf tea,” she said. Sarah was abstaining from caffeine during her pregnancy. “And then tell me what the heck is going on. No one’s seen you for two days, and you need to get down to the green to set up your space.”

“I can’t,” Ruth mumbled.

Sarah pushed her way through the door. “And why not?”

“Because the stuff I made isn’t good enough to sell and I can’t put a price on something that’s not good enough to sell.”

Sarah snorted. “That’s the biggest load of nonsense I’m going to hear all day,” she snapped. Her back ached. “I need to use your bathroom.”

Ruth stood uncertainly in her kitchen, waiting for her daughter. As a woman used to charging ahead no matter the circumstances, Ruth couldn’t understand her reluctance to selling her handmade critters.

“Okay, what is this all about?” Sarah demanded. “Have you got any cookies or cake? Never mind, don’t answer that. The one thing I don’t need is sweets.”

Ruth smiled. “It’s nerves, honey. You have less than a month to go before that little one walks into the world, and your body is craving carbohydrates. It’s normal.”

“Yeah, well, it’s not normal for this baby’s grandmother to still be in her night clothes at this time of day,” Sarah said. “What has gotten into you, Mom?”

Ruth sighed. “Come with me,” she said and headed down the hall to her sewing room.

Sarah gasped with delight when she walked in to see the riotous color of the googly-eyed fish, mice, frogs, and turtles grinning at her. “Oh my gawd, I don’t think you’ve ever made anything so adorable, and you’ve made lots of adorable stuff. So what’s the catch?”

Ruth shrugged. “Why would anyone pay for these?”

Her daughter swung around, her mouth hanging open. “Is that it? You figure no one will want these?” Her mother nodded. “Have you bought tags to put on them?”

Ruth nodded again, pointing at a container on a nearby table.

“Okay, you go take a shower and get dressed,” Sarah said, taking charge. “I’ll do the pricing and then we’ll pack the car and head to the green.”

A wee smile appeared in the corners of Ruth’s mouth. “When did you get so bossy?”

Sarah pointed toward the bathroom. “Git.”

Up at Amos Handy’s place on Sunrise Hill, Tupelo helped her uncle line up large plastic bottles of dish soap in the woodshed. “We’re going to make lots and lots of bubbles, aren’t we?” the seven-year old squealed.

Amos smiled as he scrubbed his large mixing bucket one more time. It was very important that no grit or dirt find its way into his bubble solution.

“Lots and lots of bubbles, yes, so let’s get started,” he said, looking down at the recipe he’d scrawled on a brown paper bag. “Six cups of water.”

They measured and poured.

“Now a half-cup of dish soap.” More measuring. “Now a half cup of cornstarch and a tablespoon of baking powder.”

“It’s just like when Mommy makes brownies,” Tupelo said as she concentrated on her uncle’s every move.

He grinned. “Well, I wouldn’t want to eat this, would you? Now hand me that bottle of glycerin.”

“How much do we need of this?”

“Oh, just a tablespoon. Okay now, stir it gently. We don’t want a lot of foam.”

It took a while but eventually, uncle and niece got their bubble-stuff production organized, and by the end of the afternoon, they had filled 36 quart jars with the mixture.

“Okay, we’re going to take these down to Andy Cooper’s store and put them into his refrigerator,” Amos said.

“Why?”

“Well, for some reason, the bubble stuff gets even better if it sits in the cold for a while, and we want ours to be the very best, right?”

“Right.”

The trip took a lot longer than Amos expected.

“You might as well shut your engine off for a spell, Amos,” Charlotte Davenport hollered as she signaled him to stop in the center of town.

“What in the world is going on here?”

The police chief grinned as she hooked her thumb over her shoulder. “The company that normally brings the carnie rides in for the Fair pooped out on us so Gideon Brown’s organized a bunch of folks to make our own fun.”

Tupelo stretched out of the truck window as far as she could go. “Oooh, look, they’re putting up lights like it’s Christmas and there’s slides and can we go see, Uncle Amos?”

“After we drop the bubble stuff off at Cooper’s,” he said.

“Bubbles?” Charlotte said. “Why didn’t you say so? Let me get you through this mess and out the other side.”

From her spot near the center of the green, Edie Wolfe grinned as she watched Gideon Brown pointing and laughing and hammering and talking, directing the small army of men and women who had swarmed to the center of town to help out. At one point, he had a phone pressed to each of his ears. Edie couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen him so content with himself.

“Excuse me,” a woman called. “Can you tell me where you want the kettle corn stand?”

“Oh, you must be Cate Elliott’s cousin,” Edie said, extending her hand. “I’m Edie Wolfe.”

“I’m Beth.” The young woman was tall and graceful with a face that liked to smile, her curly hair swept up in a ponytail that followed every movement of her head.

“I’m assuming you would like a spot on the perimeter of the green,” Edie said, consulting her layout chart. It seemed to change with each passing minute.

“That would be great. If I can keep my truck close by, it means I can swap my gas tanks quickly, and not keep people waiting,” Beth said.

Edie pointed across the green toward Gideon who was now supervising the building of the raised walkway among the sycamores. “See that guy in the red T-shirt?” Beth shaded her eyes and nodded. “He’s probably got a better idea than I have about the best place to set you up. His name’s Gideon.”

“Thanks.” Beth waved as she walked off.

As lunchtime approached on Friday, you could feel the frenzy of the workers on the green increase. People hammered and sawed, laid electric lines, set up tables, moved tables, and then maneuvered Lee Tennyson’s two Belgian horses into Edie Wolfe’s driveway along with a hay wagon and a watering trough. Of all the creatures great and small involved in the Carding Fair, Babe and Merry were the calmest. They stood shoulder to shoulder in the shade of the great ash tree in Edie’s front yard, their tails whisking away the occasional fly, and wondered what all the fuss was about.

Finally, Edie gave the signal to clear and all the volunteers stepped back to see what they had created. A rope-and-plank walkway arched gracefully from tree to tree to tree in the center of the green. There were five handmade water slides, a pile of colorful stilts for walking, four zip lines, and a track along one end of the green where a nightly tug-of-war was scheduled. The gazebo was twinkling with lights, and Ruth’s stall was replete with critters in every color. The Friday evening band, Ground Control, had started to set up their equipment.

Then Amos appeared, dressed in a brightly-painted smock, glittering top hat, and lime green shoes. He and Tupelo slowly emptied one of their bubble stuff jugs into a shallow pan, Amos immersed the string circle of his bubble maker into it then gently held the contraption up in the air. A fair breeze pushed on the soapy film, and when a large bubble emerged to float through the air, the whole green applauded.

“Okay everyone,” Edie said, “you have done the most amazing job, and you have done Carding proud. Let the Fair begin!”

Later, when it was all over, the tired volunteers gathered for a quiet picnic at the town beach. Almost too tired to talk, they dug into potato salad, corn on the cob, and barbecues chicken with gusto, each of them feeling that they’d earned their supper.

Off to one side, Edie noticed that Gideon and Beth were sitting side-by-side in a friendly sort of way, and that Ruth’s customary gusto had returned as she recounted how fast her critters had sold. And Amos still had his top hat perched on top of his head.

“To the best Carding Fair ever,” Charlotte Davenport said as she raised her bottle of locally brewed beer in a toast. “I can’t wait to see what we do next year.”


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, Lights in Water, Dancing has just been published. All of the Carding novels are available on Amazon.

You can subscribe to the Carding Chronicles by clicking the subscribe button on my home page. When you do, my stories speed from my keyboard to your inbox every Thursday without any further effort on your part.

If you’d like to get in touch, my email address is: Sonja@SonjaHakala.com.