Category Archives: Carding Chronicles

Short stories about Carding, Vermont

The Dance of the Daffodils: A Carding Chronicle

SH-DaffodilsIn Carding, Vermont, Edie Wolfe is well-known.

She’s the daughter of Danielson Wolfe, the only Senator Vermont’s ever elected from this part of the state.

And she’s the long-time executive director of the nationally renowned Carding Academy of Traditional Arts.

When I asked if she would be willing to take over the Carding Chronicles so I could devote all my time to my next book, she very kindly agreed.

I hope you’re enjoying Edie’s stories and sketches about her hometown.


As I age and my knees grumble whenever I weed and hoe, I’ve come to believe that my favorite time to garden may be winter.

Actually, winter gardening in Vermont is more a fantasizing than factualizing. But it’s a fantasy that keeps you going when it’s gray, grayer and grayest outside.

My friend Agnes Findley is a devoted fan of winter gardening. Her season starts way before Christmas when her mailbox sags with catalogs—seed catalogs, bulb catalogs, hard-to-find shrub catalogs, tool catalogs—you name it. If it’s colorful and flowery and enticing, chances are good that Agnes can lay her hands on a catalog with “just the very thing” in its pages.

Another friend, Ruth Goodwin, likes to draw and re-draw her flower beds, filling them with mounds of daffodils and bleeding hearts and zinnias, all at the height of their colorful power and nary a weed in sight.

If only.

Me, I straddle the line on this fantasy gardening stuff just a bit. I do draw up lists in the fall of what needs to be moved from here to there, what plants succeeded and which should never be attempted again. Then I scour a select few of the many catalogs that Agnes recommends and bookmark all of the plants I want to add to my outdoor collection.

Then I put them aside for a while to see if I really mean it or if the mood will pass. My gardens are pretty mature so I can usually let the mood pass without a qualm.

However, I did make a purchase the year before last when I renewed my crop of daffodils, grape hyacinth, and narcissus, a hundred bulbs of each. My back and knees grumbled from the middle of September through mid-October as I filled in every patch of open soil with bulbs but I was determine to have lots of yellow in the spring.

I forgot all about them as soon as Thanksgiving hit and my flowering cacti decided to bless me with elongated pink and white blossoms stretching out to impossible lengths on every windowsill in my kitchen.

It was quite a show, I have to say.

And then I found a great deal on poinsettias with variegated leaves so instead of my usual single plant, I brought four of them home.

In January, I visited every gardening shop and florist I could find just to inhale the scent of moist earth and in February, I joined a bunch of other folks at the Tennyson farm to boil sap into syrup. I swear, if anyone ever figures out how to bottle the scent of steaming maple sap with a hint of wood smoke, I’d buy it.

March is a long, long, long month in Vermont, the longest on the calendar, in my opinion. So I bought primroses at the grocery store. They helped a little.

In April, I started spreading out the snow piles in my yard with my metal rake. By that time of year, it’s no longer snow but ice crystals. I’ve never been quite sure whether spreading them out makes them melt faster or it’s just a way to deal with our frustrations over the pokey pace of spring.

Everyone’s yard looks pitiful in April with the grass yellow and prostrate and the new molehills glistening in the sun. But in addition to cursing the leftover snow, I also spent time wandering slowly among the thawing flower beds and that’s when I remembered the daffodil bulbs from the previous fall.

At first they’re nothing more that tiny green tips hovering close to the soil. But then…and then…I had the most glorious display of yellow ever seen in my yard. And the scent was heavenly.

Now we’re back to January, the time of year when I tell myself to enjoy the fact that there are no weeds and no sore knees.

But I will confess to daffodils dancing in my head. 


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.

The Dance of the Daffodils

In Carding, Vermont, Edie Wolfe is well-known.

She’s the daughter of Danielson Wolfe, the only Senator Vermont’s ever elected from this part of the state.

And she’s the long-time executive director of the nationally renowned Carding Academy of Traditional Arts.

When I asked if she would be willing to take over the Carding Chronicles so I could devote all my time to my next book, she very kindly agreed.

I hope you’re enjoying Edie’s stories and sketches about her hometown. There are daffodils in your future if you stop by tomorrow. Here’s a sample.

SH-Daffodils

 

Thonk!: A Carding Chronicle

SH-Pileated woodpeckerOne of the best-known folks in Carding, Vermont is Edie Wolfe. Handcrafters and artists from all corners know her as the president of the Carding Academy of Traditional Arts. Teenagers Will and Faye Bennett know her as “Grandma.”

Edie kindly agreed to take over my Carding Chronicle duties while I’m working on my new book. I’m sure you’ll enjoy her foray into big bird watching this morning.

Glad you stopped by.


I love birds. They are my favorite dinosaurs and every season has its feathered charmers.

In early spring, I start cocking my ear toward the trees lining the Corvus River, listening for the telltale “scree” and chatter that announces the annual arrival of the redwing blackbirds. They crowd the bare branches of late March, exchanging news and gossip from their trip back home to Vermont.

And then, about a week later, they all seem to disappear. We do occasionally hear them but they’re mostly busy pairing up and nesting among the river willows and cattails that line the Corvus.

In summer, it’s the flashy yellow of male goldfinches and the songs of robins and wrens plus the serene gliding of Canada geese, mergansers, and mallards across Half Moon Lake. We’re still eagerly awaiting the first appearance of nesting loons.

That will be a thrill.

Sometimes I wonder if I enjoy the birds of winter most of all. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, most of my work has moved indoors so I get to spend more time at my windows contemplating my feeders. There’s a three-part turnstile full of sunflower seeds that’s drained regularly by the neighborhood chickadees, tufted titmice, and the now-olive-green goldfinches. 

I scatter corn and more sunflower seeds on the ground for the cardinals, blue jays, and juncos.

And then there are the suet feeders, two of them, right outside my kitchen windows. They have lots of visitors but the most regular are woodpeckers, downy and hairy in particular.

I often hear their “thump, thump, thump” against the suet before I get down to the kitchen for my first cup of tea. But this morning there was a different sound, one I don’t hear very often.

“Thonk. Thonk. Thonk.”

Loud and unmistakeable.

I lifted my bedroom curtain just a smidge so I wouldn’t startle it into flight. It was raining—yet again—the guarantee of a bone-chiller day, the kind that makes you drink cocoa while hugging the wood stove.

“Thonk. Thonk. Thonk.”

I swept up my robe with one hand, not bothering with the light, and quietly toed down the stairs to the kitchen. The pileated woodpeckers may be the big bird of the woodpecker world but it is notoriously shy, hying off at the least sound. I should know. I’ve tried and failed to take its picture many times.

I have a dying ash tree on the edge of my yard and it’s a favorite of woodpeckers and nuthatches in summer. Andy Cooper keeps telling to take it down before it falls on my house but the bigger branches are taking care of themselves so I’m not that worried. 

I figured this was the pileated’s target.

I fumbled around for my camera in the dim light of sunrise then got down on my knees to scoot across the floor to the back window. I was right. There was a magnificent pileated pounding away near the base of the ash, wood chips and icy raindrops flying in all directions. 

I raised the camera and zoomed in, struggling to get a clear picture through the window and the rain.

Thonk, thonk, thonk. Click, click, click.

The sounds of a satisfactory winter morning in January.

I watched and took pictures until the cold made moving imperative and it was time for cocoa.


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.

Thonk!

One of the best-known folks in Carding, Vermont is Edie Wolfe. Handcrafters and artists from all corners know her as the president of the Carding Academy of Traditional Arts. Teenagers Will and Faye Bennett know her as “Grandma.”

Edie kindly agreed to take over my Carding Chronicle duties while I’m working on my new book. I’m sure you’ll enjoy her foray into big bird watching tomorrow morning.

Hope you can stop by.

SH-Pileated woodpecker

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.