Tag Archives: Carding Chronicle

Another Cup of Tea?

Last week, Edie Wolfe and her neighbors, David and Lillian Tarkiainen, had their good night’s sleep shattered by the scream of a peacock.

It was a bit unnerving, especially when they discovered that the flamboyant bird had a love interest hiding in the bushes.

But who owns the peacock and why is it there?

Edie has a hunch so she calls Lee and Christine Tennyson, Carding’s favorite local farmers, to see if they’re missing any birds.

And that’s when she falls into the “Tennyson tangle.”

Welcome to Carding, Vermont where life always includes a dash of the unexpected. Carding is the small town (population 3,700 or so) that no one can seem to find on a map of the Green Mountain State. But you can find it any time, right here in the Carding Chronicles and in the four novels of Carding, Vermont, all of which are available on Amazon.com or by ordering them through your local independent book store.

This three-part tale, which began last week, continues in Edie Wolfe’s kitchen over a cup of tea with Christine Tennyson. Here’s a sample of what’s to come.

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Love Is in the Air

There’s a distinct chill in the air of Carding, Vermont now that the calendar has moved into November. The evenings are definitely longer, the clouds often thicker during the day.

In short, quiet reigns all over town once the sun sets.

So any disturbance is sure to get attention, especially when it occurs in your own backyard.

Tomorrow’s Carding Chronicle begins a three-part tale about peacocks and their romantic affairs, family tangles, and the enduring love of sisters.

Hope you can stop by. Or better yet, subscribe to this website by clicking the button so that the Carding Chronicles can flow effortlessly into your inbox.

Here’s a taste of what’s in store for tomorrow.

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The Spirit of Aisle Two

Ooooh, today is Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve, the day before All Souls Day. This is the time of year when the veil between the land of the living and the land of the dead is at its thinnest.

It’s also called Samhain in the Gaelic calendar, a celebration of the harvest.

Whatever name you prefer, this is the time of year when ghosts and ghouls and the infamous things that go bump-in-the-night take center stage.

So of course, you’re going to meet Carding, Vermont’s favorite ghost in tomorrow’s Carding Chronicle. This story was inspired by a tale about a spectral presence that supposedly inhabits the Norwich Inn in Norwich, Vermont.

By the way, the Norwich Inn has a lovely brew pub and their red ale is exquisite.

I hope you can stop by to enjoy The Spirit of Aisle Two tomorrow, right here. Or you could think about subscribing to my website by clicking on the subscribe button. That way, all of the Carding Chronicles and other news from the town that no one can seem to find on a map will glide effortlessly into your inbox.

Here’s a sample of what’s in store tomorrow.

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The Kids Are All Right: A Carding Chronicle

SH-kids all right jpgNow folks who farm such as the Tennysons of Carding, Vermont rarely get the opportunity to go on vacation because the animals and the gardens don’t take a rest. So they were quite appreciative when their friend Jacob Brown volunteered to watch over the farm so they could go to Boston to attend a wedding and spend a little time in the city.

It was also a good time for Cassie Handy to roll out her “yoga in nature” idea in order to take advantage of the last warm days of the year.

In part three of this story, the townsfolk of Carding figure that watching people do yoga in a meadow is the perfect excuse to be outside in the glories of autumn. (You can read part one, Houdini’s Rules, here and part two, Houdini’s Test right here.)

Houdini, the infamous billy goat owned by the Tennysons, has his own plans for the afternoon.

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). The fourth novel—Lights in Water, Dancing—is now available for your reading pleasure. You can order it from your local independent book store or from Amazon.com. There are links to all of the books at the end of this story.

And once again, a big thank you to the folks at Wellwood Orchard, particularly yoga teacher Aggie, for allowing me to take photographs and use them in my story.


Even though he and Cassie had agreed to hold yoga classes at the farm in order to take advantage of the last warm days of the year, Jacob couldn’t feel easy about it until he’d cleared it with the Tennysons.

“So, are you okay with Cassie holding classes on that west-facing slope while you’re away?” Jacob asked during their daily phone call.

“I’m sure it will be fine,” Christine said. “Though I would check that portion of the fence just to be sure it will hold if the kids start butting it again.”

“I’m already on the case,” Jacob said. “I’m putting up a temporary curtain there, just so Houdini won’t get any ideas.” He added several pairs of vise grips and a drop cloth to the cart attached to the mowing tractor as he talked. 

“I’ll ask Cassie to wait until you get home if you’d rather,” he continued. “It’s just that the weather is going to be perfect, and…”

“…we don’t have too many more warm days left in the year,” Christine finished. “And the view of the foliage from up there is the best on the whole hill. So I would go ahead with your plans. I’m sure you can handle it.”

“Don’t worry. It’s all under control,” Jacob said as he rang off.

Despite her reassuring tone, Christine sighed heavily as she ended the conversation.

“What’s up?” Lee asked when he noticed the pucker in his wife’s face.

“Yoga with goats,” she said.

“What?”

“Cassie wants to do those yoga classes she was talking about on the slope by the apple orchard this week,” Christine said.

“Oh.” Lee thought about that for a minute. He knew, better than anyone, what havoc Houdini was capable of wreaking on any human plans.

But being farmers, the Tennysons rarely had the chance to get away, and he’d been looking forward to some “just us” time with his wife and their two boys.

“Jacob and Cassie are sensible people,” he began as the cinch in his wife’s mouth grew tighter.

“Yeah, but Houdini isn’t.”

Lee sighed. “If you really think we should go home…”

“Hmph, I don’t like being ruled by that old goat,” Christine said. “And we agreed to give Jacob a chance to see if he likes the farming life.” She slid her arms around her husband’s waist. “I don’t want to go home just because of him. I think we should take our kids to the planetarium tomorrow as we planned, and let the yoga classes run their course.”

“Now that’s what I was hoping to hear,” Lee said.

Jacob rose the next morning girded for battle. He watched carefully as the goats skipped and walked out of the barn. As the caprine family headed toward the high pasture, Jacob followed them up the slope,

Houdini glanced over his shoulder more than once but Jacob ignored him, turning his attention to the play of the young ones. They pranced close enough for him to stroke their flanks, and it took less than a minute for the smallest one to find the chunks of carrot he was carrying in his pocket.

Houdini shifted around noisily as he watched his children eating from Jacob’s hand. He understood why the human was attracted to the kids. He liked watching them too.

But none of the humans he knew ever fed baby goats like this. The interaction made Houdini deeply suspicious.

Jacob was busy all day, mowing and grooming the yoga space at the edge of the apple orchard. He cut the grass close, gathered up the clippings, and then walked the whole area looking for stones. 

Cassie pronounced herself “very pleased” when she arrived. Her daughter Tupelo immediately ran to the center of the small field to try out her favorite yoga poses, downward-facing dog and eagle.

Satisfied that all was ready, the three of them stood to watch the sun droop over the western hills, enjoying the sky-high display of pink and peach and gold.

“What time is your class tomorrow?” Jacob asked.

“It starts at 3:30,” Cassie said. “It’s not quite sundown but it gets chilly fast so I figured earlier was better. I told folks that if they wanted to stay to watch the sun set, they’re welcome to do so. Any sign of Houdini and the clan being interested in what we’re doing?”

Jacob glanced up the hill toward the goats as he pinned the drop cloth curtain to the fence with vise grips. “Not at all. Everyone seems content.” 

Cassie’s eyebrows rose. “I don’t know whether that worries me or not, frankly.”

Jacob laughed. “Yeah, me too. Amazing how that old guy keeps us in his thrall, isn’t it?”

The first yoga class on Monday afternoon went off without a hitch. The goats were curious but they stayed put in the high pasture as Houdini gazed down the hill like an ancient tribal chieftain.

Tuesday was just as trouble-free. Still in Boston, Lee and Christine felt genuinely relaxed, and all the humans congratulated themselves on, for once, circumventing Houdini’s rules.

The number of students in Wednesday’s class swelled because word about the beauty of the location had spread through Carding, attracting a lot of drop-ins. Cassie was thrilled when three of them signed up for her regular sessions. The additional income would help with her bills during the winter.

On Thursday, the air temperature rose to the mid-60s, making it the warmest day of October, a perfect time for “yoga in the meadow.” What had begun as an experiment was now a local event, and all sorts of non-yoga types were making the trek up Belmont Hill to the Tennyson farm to see what was “going on up there.”

Jacob was glad to see that Cassie’s partner, Hunter Glass, came with her to help direct traffic along the winding dirt road. Some people spread blankets on the ground under the apple trees while others coagulated in small knots by their pickups and cars. 

Armed with extra yoga mats, Tupelo meandered among the Carding-ites, persuading more than one of them to “give it a try.”

At seven years old and wearing a big grin, the little girl was hard to resist.

“All right,” Cassie called to quiet the hubbub, “make sure you have enough room to stretch out your arms while you stand in the middle of your mat.” She raised her own arms to demonstrate, and then waited for folks to make any necessary adjustments.

“Okay, let’s begin with a few simple breathing exercises.”

Jacob leaned against the fence to watch the class but his attention soon turned inward as he thought about the past week. He liked working on the farm, that much he realized. But did he like it enough to make the switch from driving truck for his father’s company to farming?

“All right, let’s move into doing a little dog and cat,” Cassie said as she placed her hands and knees on her mat, arching her back in a classic “Halloween cat” posture. The class followed her.

“Hey Jacob.” Hunter sauntered over to lean on the fence next to him. “Where’s that old goat that Tupelo’s always talking about? I’m kind of curious to see him.”

“Houdini? Oh, he’s up…” Jacob turned to point at the high pasture. But it was empty.

Sudden squeals made the two men whip around just in time to see the youngest member of Houdini’s harem, Boo, run into the middle of the class, chasing her little one. 

The kid skipped from mat to mat, sniffing sneakers and experimentally tasting a sweatshirt or two. 

Tupelo clapped her hands. “Look Mom, they’re all here.” The two other nannies, Bippity and Boppity, followed Boo, their four kids prancing and jumping from person to person. Everyone standing on the sidelines aimed their cell phones at the scene, each of them hoping to snap the perfect picture of the oncoming mayhem.

One kid leaped on the back of the new school superintendent, David Tarkiainen, and began chewing the earpiece of his glasses. Another tugged at Faye Bennett’s long hair. The tone of her squeal went up a notch when she realized the end of her ponytail was disappearing into the little one’s mouth.

Jacob, Hunter, and Cassie rushed in but the kids, now as excited as little humans high on sugar, began to run even faster—under folks, between legs, and over the mats.

Some of the bystanders rushed in to help but the sight of kids and nannies and nannies and kids provoked so much laughter, they found it hard to run.

Jacob finally managed to corner Boo, grabbing her by one horn. Before he could grab the second one, she turned on him, butting her head into a place no man wants to be hit. Jacob doubled over on the grass with a low moan.

As he tried not to move, Jacob felt a breathy nicker in his ear. His head snapped around and he lowered his shoulder, ready to counter another head butt from Boo.

But he found himself face-to-face with Houdini. The old goat and the young man stared at one another for a tense, elongated moment.

“Get them out of here,” Jacob said.

Houdini took a step closer, and narrowed his eyes.

“Please,” Jacob said.

Houdini stepped back, his eyes never leaving Jacob’s face. Then he raised his chin and bleated a harsh “Maaaa.” The nannies paused in their havoc. Then they raised their own heads.

“Maaaa. Maaaa. Maaaa.”

With a few last kicks of their heels, the five babies retreated, following their mothers back up the hill. 

Jacob watched, momentarily stupefied. 

With a last look over his shoulder, Houdini sauntered off, stopping to pull an apple from a tree in the orchard as he left.

Houdini rules.


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.

The Kids Are All Right

The best-known farm in Carding belongs to Lee and Christine Tennyson. The young couple and their two sons are in Boston this week to attend a family wedding and to see the sights.

They left Jacob Brown in charge while they’re gone—which means Jacob and the Tennyson’s formidable billy goat, Houdini, have been locking…er…horns.

Cassie Handy, Carding’s local yoga teacher, is helping out, and with the last of the good weather running out, she’s decided to teach some plein-air yoga on the west-facing slope next to the Tennysons’ apple orchard.

The question is: What does Houdini think about that?

Here’s a sample of tomorrow’s Carding Chronicle, the third of three parts inspired by the yoga with goats classes at Wellwood Orchard in Springfield, Vermont. You can read part one here, and part two here.

Carding, Vermont is the fictional town at the center of my four novels, all available on Amazon.com or to order from your favorite independent book store.

I hope you will stop by.

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Houdini’s Test: A Carding Chronicle

SH-yoga with goats jpgThe best-known farm in Carding belongs to Lee and Christine Tennyson. The young couple and their two sons are in Boston this week to attend a family wedding and to see the sights.

They left Jacob Brown in charge while they’re gone—which means that for the next seven days Jacob and the Tennyson’s formidable billy goat, Houdini, will be locking…er…horns.

Cassie Handy, Carding’s local yoga teacher, is helping out. And it looks as though there may be some outdoor yoga classes at the farm while the Tennysons are away.

The question is: What does Houdini think about that? (You can catch up with part one of the Yoga with Goats saga right here.)

Carding, Vermont is the small town that’s the star of my four novels about the place that no one can seem to find on a map. Every Thursday, you can enjoy a Carding Chronicles right here. And you can order the books any time. Details are at the end of today’s Carding Chronicle.

So glad you stopped by.


“So, what do you think? Will Jacob be okay taking care of the farm for a week?” Christine asked her husband as they cleaned up after supper. “I know he’s a Carding boy so he’s familiar with the life. But he’s never actually run a farm before.”

“I know what you mean but things are relatively quiet at the moment,” Lee said as he stacked plates in the cupboard. “He’s helped me fix the fences around here a couple of times, and he’s smart and steady.”

Christine sighed. “But there’s always Houdini. He’ll know we’re gone and…”

Lee nodded. “Believe me, I’ve thought about that a lot, and I’m betting on the fact that the nannies are on high alert with their kids still so young. I even saw Boo butt him away the other day when he tried to rough house with her little one. He’s not getting any cooperation on the nanny front at the moment.”

They looked at one another for a long moment. “And if anything happens, we’re only a telephone call away,” Lee said. “We can get back from Boston in good time if we have to.”

Jacob was at the farm early the next morning, his favorite backpack stuffed with enough “bang-around” clothes to last the week. He’d noticed a couple of small repairs that needed to be done on the barn, the chicken coop needed to be winterized, and he planned to walk the fences with his toolbox. He was not a man content to sit and watch the sun rise and set.

“There’s plenty of food in the fridge so please help yourself,” Christine said as she strapped her two sons into the back seat of the family van.

“Yeah, Dad made pizza last night and we left you a piece,” Roy, the youngest, said.

“But only one because Roy ate more than his share,” the older boy said.

“Did not.”

“Did too.”

“Come on, you two. Enough,” Chris said. And then she sighed. “I sometimes think it’s more work to get away than it’s worth.”

Lee jangled a set of keys as he handed them to Jacob. “The tractor and mower keys are on this ring as well as the house key. Don’t feel obligated to do any chores…”

Jacob laughed. “You know that sitting still is not my style.”

He waved at the Tennysons until they were out of sight, and then pocketed the keys. Their dog, Pippin, and their two cats perched expectantly by the back door waiting to be let out, and the hens cooed and clucked contentedly in their pen. Jacob shaded his eyes to scan the highest ridge of the pasture, looking for the goats. The nannies sauntered from one clump of grass to another while the five young ones sparked around their mothers. While he watched, Houdini appeared at the field’s highest point.

“Please don’t escape on my watch,” Jacob whispered. “Please don’t escape on my watch.”

A few minutes later, Jacob set off on his fence inspection, Pippin at his heels, her long graceful tail swaying in time with her hips.

It was a perfect autumn day, the kind you’d like to bottle up and enjoy in the middle of winter when the freezing temperatures have you trapped inside. The air was warming from chilly to “a bit cool” to just right as the sun made its trek across the sky.

Jacob moved methodically from post to post, giving each of them an experimental wiggle to make sure it would stand up to the snow, ice and wind, replacing the wire fencing as needed. Just about the time he started thinking about lunch, Houdini showed up as though he was on his own inspection tour, the five little ones massed around his feet, his harem maintaining their watch over the kids from a discreet distance.

Jacob pushed his hat back, never breaking eye contact with the billy. “Look, I know you think that fences are just a challenge but I’m new here so give me a break, okay?”

Houdini shifted his weight and as if on a signal, two of the kids lowered their heads to run straight at the fence.

Wham! The wire structure shuddered at their impact but it held.

“What’s this, a training course?” Jacob asked.

Two more of the kids took a run at the fence.

Wham!

Jacob glared at Houdini who flicked his tail and turned away. The kids followed. The nannies chewed, their eyes flicking from Houdini to the fence and back again.

Jacob shook his head as he gathered up his tools. On one hand, he was glad to know that his fencing held. On the other hand, he couldn’t shake the notion that Houdini was testing him, and Jacob had no idea whether he’d passed or not.

By the time Cassie Handy and her daughter Tupelo arrived for the end-of-day milking, Jacob had the chickens inside and fed, the cats contentedly full of cat food, and the goats filing into the barn.

“So how’d your first day go?” Cassie asked as she helped him guide the nannies into their stalls.

“Just fine,” Jacob said, “except for this one thing with Houdini.”

“Let me guess—he set the kids on you,” Cassie said as she washed her hands in the sink.

“Yeah. I was fixing the fence when he showed up, and four of the little ones ran at it,” Jacob said. “Does he do this sort of thing often?”

Cassie laughed. “Every day. I have to admit he’s a smart old codger. I think he does it just to see if he can catch us off-guard.”

“Hmm, that’s not encouraging.”

Suddenly the two of them heard Tupelo laughing and squealing with joy from the barnyard. “Mom, come see, come see.”

The two adults stumbled outside just in time to see one of the kids climbing up on the little girl’s back as she steadied herself on all fours. “They tickle,” Tupelo squealed. “They’re doing yoga with me, just like you saw online.”

“Yoga with goats?” Jacob’s eyebrows arched high as he looked at Cassie.

She shook her head. “Yeah, it’s this new-new thing, holding yoga classes with young animals. It started with goats and now there are some folks doing it with alpacas.”

“Is this something you’re planning to try?”

“No, though I have talked to Christine about holding a class on the slope at the edge of the orchard. It faces west and it’s the best place to watch the sun set on the whole farm,” Cassie said.

Jacob shrugged. “If you want to do that, it had better be soon. There aren’t many warm days left in the year.”

“Yeah. Do you think it would be okay if I did it this week? The forecast is clear and sunny all the way through Thursday.”

“Sure. I’ll get over to the field and mow tomorrow.” He nodded his head toward Houdini who was taking his sweet-old-time getting into the barn. “They’ll be able to watch from the pasture so your students should be safe enough.”

Suddenly Tupelo squealed again though not from joy this time. “Mom, the baby goat’s eating my hair!”


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.