Tag Archives: Carding Chronicle

The Traditions of Spring

At this point in the year, Vermonters assure themselves that winter is absolutely, finally and resolutely gone. No more snow! No more snow!

Of course, we have had snow in the middle of May.

But we don’t want to think about that.

Tomorrow, we’re going to take a tour around Carding with Ruth Goodwin as she makes note of the rituals of spring. Here’s a sample of what’s in store.

SH-Violets

Welcome to Carding, Vermont where life always includes a dash of the unexpected. And you can find it any time, 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.

Mrs. Mozart: A Carding Chronicle

Mrs. MozartAs the last of the winter snow—long past its prime—recedes, Vermonters rush to be outside.

Gardeners stroll among their dormant beds, picking up the stray branches brought down by the ice and wind of a season that’s already receding into memory. Carpenters start measuring and cutting lumber for the new projects they planned back in February. Walkers don their muddin’ boots to march off down the rutted dirt roads, their dogs wandering as far afield as they can manage.

While Carding’s Episcopal priest, Gordon Lloyd, enjoys the outdoors as much as everyone else in town, this morning he’s looking forward to an indoor activity, one with poignant appeal.

Let’s join him, shall we?

Welcome to Carding, Vermont where life always includes a dash of the unexpected. And you can find it any time, 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.

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Gordon Lloyd, the Episcopal priest who lives and works in Carding, Vermont, will turn 70 years old later this year. So it’s normal that thoughts of retirement flit through his head from time to time.

Some days, such as when the ladies who decorate the altar disagree over peonies versus lilies for the various Sundays in May, his retirement thoughts are more numerous. Everyone likes the notion of escape from time to time.

But there are days, such as today, when he knows he wants to practice his priestly profession for all his days. Because Thursdays are the days he visits patients in the Jack Byrnes Center for Hospice and Palliative Care over in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

It’s the first of its kind in the area, a specialty care center for the terminally ill. The central idea of the center is respect for the dignity of death, something that Reverend Lloyd thinks is sadly lacking in our contemporary society—especially in the medical field.

Now it’s understandable that some folks would think that visiting a place like this would be morbid. But the good reverend finds the palliative care center a place of solace so he looks forward to Thursdays as a day to refresh his spirit.

“These people sure know how to live,” he told a nurse there once. She wasn’t surprised by his remark at all.

“Yeah, you can learn a lot here,” she said. “And most of it isn’t medical in nature.”

She thought about her words for a moment, and then added: “It’s just nature.”

He was more than usually eager to get to the center this morning because one of his favorite parishioners, Josephine Lehtinen, had reached the point of accepting hospice care for the last of her days. Josie, as she liked to be called, was known far and wide in Carding because she’d taught music to every student who came through the local school system.

In Josie’s world, everyone had musical talent. “If you don’t want to play the violin or the piano, you can try a recorder or a guitar or the drums or bang a gong or just hum along. Everyone needs music.”

And she proved, time and again, that she was right. Carding’s band concerts were always crowded by folks who enjoyed music as well as the usual plethora of proud parents. The school’s choral group was so popular, it actually toured the region, performing in nursing homes, at the Carding Fair, and for area elementary schools.

In addition to Josie’s enthusiasm for all things musical, everyone learned (sooner or later) about her passion for the man she called “the Little Austrian,” Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. She kept a small bust of the composer on her desk and her husband, Conrad, swore that she kept an altar for him at home. All of her instrumental students started their musical careers by mastering the twelve variations of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” that Mozart composed.

So it should be no surprise that Josie Lehtinen is remembered as Mrs. Mozart by several generations of Carding students.

Gordon heard music as soon as he stepped through the front door of the Byrnes Center. It was a cello, one of his favorite instruments. He stood still, absorbing the notes, unsure whether it was a Mozart composition or not. The great composer never wrote a piece of music dedicated to the instrument. No one’s quite sure why but the thinking is that cellos just weren’t that common in the late 19th century when the Little Austrian was about.

But several of his works have been transcribed for the cello in the centuries since, a trend accelerated by Yo Yo Ma.

Gordon tilted his head, turning his good ear toward the sound. It was a sonata, the priest wasn’t sure which one, but he liked believing it was by Mozart and until proven otherwise, that was what he was going to believe.

The music, so soothing, flowed down the hall as Gordon made his way toward Mrs. Mozart’s room. All of the doors to the patients’ rooms were open to hear the musician bowing the beautiful instrument, its age-darkened wood catching the spring light streaming through the windows. 

The staff had wheeled all of the patients’ beds closer to the open room doors and stood listening in respectful silence, their faces rapt, embraced by the music.

All except one. Josie Lehtinen.

Gordon’s heart sank when he realized she was missing. He’d been hoping for one last good-bye. 

He crept up to her room, careful not to disturb the musician who played with such intensity and fervor. A nurse, standing where the bed should have been, caught Gordon’s eye and pointed toward the double doors that opened onto a small balcony. Every bed in the center had wheels and every room had access to the outdoors. Patients craving a communing with nature could be wheeled into the open air, no walking needed.

Josie’s bed faced the trees surrounding the center, all of them still naked. All except the pines, of course.

Josie’s husband, Conrad, sat in a chair facing the priest, his hand full of Josie’s hand. He smiled when he spotted Gordon and beckoned him to join them.

Mrs. Mozart stirred as the priest approached her bedside. A small breath of a breeze ruffled her white hair. Gordon was glad he’d worn a sweater.

“Aren’t you cold Josie?” he asked. “Would you like me to get you another blanket?”

“Oh no, no. I am basking in this glorious air,” she said. Mischief gleamed in her eyes. “This may be the last time I get to be cold, you know.”

Gordon shook his head.

“It’s one of the great pleasures of life, Reverend,” she continued after a long pause. She made a small gesture toward the trees. “It all comes down to the ordinary details in an ordinary life, you know. The way the pines move, the shadows on the ground, the notes coming from the cello. Isn’t it amazing what sounds you can get from a wooden box, strings and a bow? Just listen to that.”

Gordon perched on the far corner of the bed and let his head fall forward but he didn’t pray.  There was no need. The notes from the cello flowed the air, the pines exulted with the spring breeze, the sun creased the cobalt sky, and Mrs. Mozart squeezed her husband’s hand.

It was a perfect ordinary day.


Remember, you can visit Carding any time by scouring the archive of older stories or 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.

Mrs. Mozart

As the last of the winter snow—long past its prime—recedes, Vermonters rush to be outside.

Gardeners stroll among their dormant beds, picking up the stray branches brought down by the ice and wind of a season that’s already receding into memory. Carpenters start measuring and cutting lumber for the new projects they planned back in February. Walkers don their muddin’ boots to march off down the rutted dirt roads, their dogs wandering as far afield as they can manage.

While Carding’s Episcopal priest, Gordon Lloyd, enjoys the outdoors as much as everyone else in town, this morning he’s looking forward to an indoor activity, one with poignant appeal.

Here’s a sample of tomorrow’s story. Hope to see you there.

Welcome to Carding, Vermont where life always includes a dash of the unexpected. And you can find it any time, 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.

Mrs. Mozart

To the Rescue: A Carding Chronicle

SH-sable storyThe dog in the illustration for this story was rescued by my son and daughter-in-law. Her name is Sable and we get to take care of her while they are at work.

She is a love.

And she inspired today’s Carding Chronicle, To the Rescue, one that I repeat this time every year.

I am so glad you stopped by to enjoy this story with me.

Patting—and rescuing—dogs is so important, don’t you think?

Welcome to Carding, Vermont where life always includes a dash of the unexpected. And you can find it any time, 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.

———————————————————————–

Andy Cooper, the owner of Cooper’s General Store the everything-you-need emporium in the center of Carding, never meant to get another dog. As he told his best friend, Edie Wolfe, he’d lost enough fur-bearing buddies to last him a lifetime.

But he still retains a very squishy spot in his heart for dogs which is why he’s been letting the folks from Vermont Dog Rescue park in the store’s lot for information and adoption days for so many years.

If there’s one thing that Vermonters share, it’s a deep love of dogs. The Coop’s parking lot overflowed all day with people stopping by to pat the would-be adoptees, donate to the rescue organization or take home a new pet.

Every time the latter happened, Andy heard a large “Whoop! Whoop!” from the crowd, and he smiled to know that another little one had found a good home.

It was a busy day so he never got the chance to venture outside for himself until afternoon. By that time, the volunteers from the rescue organization were starting to pack up to head home.

“Thanks Andy,” Ellsworth Fynn said as they shook hands. “I always appreciate that you let us come here. Carding’s such a receptive place.”

“Did the Elliotts come by? They lost their big German shepherd last fall, and I know that Bruce and Cate planned to get a dog today,” Andy said.

Ellsworth looked down at the paperwork on the clipboard in his hands. “Yep, they were the first ones here this morning. I think if it had been left to their kids, they would have taken all the dogs home.”

Andy laughed. “Yeah, there’s a lot of energy there. I expect I’ll see them all racing through town this summer.”

Just then, a low moan made his head turn toward the organization’s van. “Somebody sick?” he asked.

“No. We had one little girl left,” Ellsworth said, reaching in to stroke the ears of a large brown dog with expressive eyes.

Andy leaned over to pat her as well. “Soft ears,” he said. “What’s her name?”

Ellsworth looked at his paperwork again. “Sable. We rescued her at the last minute from a place down South. The family who dropped her off said they had too many dogs and couldn’t take care of the ones they had. Too typical a story by half.”

Sable groaned a little louder, rolled over on her side, and embraced Andy’s arm with her front paws. “Aawww. She’s a charmer.”

Ellsworth cocked an eye in Andy’s direction. He was well aware of the store manager’s objection to owning another dog, and he appreciated it. Pets leave big holes behind in the lives of their humans when they move on to doggie heaven. But he said nothing, just in case Andy might change his mind.

“How many dogs did you bring today?” Andy asked as he sat down next to Sable to give her a more thorough rubbing with his hands. Her fur was short but not coarse, and he guessed her name came from the way she felt. Sable closed her eyes in appreciation of his gesture.

“There were a dozen with us,” Ellsworth said. “It’s been a good day for a lot of dogs as well as humans.”

“Yeah, I can see that.” Andy drew in a large breath, remembering the promise he’d made to himself about “no more.” He pulled his hand away. Sable sat up, her nose pointed down, her deep brown eyes flicking back and forth between Ellsworth and Andy.

Andy rubbed his face. “Oh man,” he whispered, shaking his head. Sable’s head drooped. “How long have you had her?”

“She’s been with her foster family for about a month,” Ellsworth said. “Though I think we’re going to have to move her because they’ve got three other dogs, and Sable is so docile, she never gets her share of food or attention.”

Andy sighed, and stood up. Sable moaned, a low tone that probably reached only Andy’s ears. They looked at one another for a long, long, long minute. Ellsworth held his breath. He knew this was the crucial moment.

“I hope I don’t live to regret this,” Andy whispered to himself. Then he turned to Ellsworth. “So, how much is your adoption fee?”


Remember, you can visit Carding any time by scouring the archive of older stories or 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.

To the Rescue

The dog in the illustration for tomorrow’s story was rescued by my son and daughter-in-law. Her name is Sable and we get to take care of her while they are at work.

She is a love.

And she inspired tomorrow’s Carding Chronicle, To the Rescue, one that I repeat this time every year.

I hope you can stop by to enjoy this story with me.

Patting—and rescuing—dogs is so important, don’t you think?

SH-sable story

 

Spring Cleaning: A Carding Chronicle

SH-Snowdrops

While dogwoods may be in bloom elsewhere, Vermonters still have to contend with snow on the ground.

Watching the white stuff melt is like watching winter in reverse. The fluffy snow on top coagulates into ice crystals that act and sound like glass beads when you walk through them. And when you get to the very bottom of the snowy mounds, you find the sheets of ice laid down in a fury of December storms that brought the dreaded wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain to the area.

But where there’s melting snow, there’s hope for spring, right?

Welcome to Carding, Vermont where life always includes a dash of the unexpected. And you can find it any time, 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 flu has been making the rounds in Carding, Vermont. Ruth Goodwin nicknamed it the “kinda-sorta flu” because you kinda feel like you have a cold and you feel sorta achey. The overall impact on those under the influence of the virus is a weak of extreme lethargy brought on by an inability to take in enough oxygen because of congestion.

Everyone’s been drinking pots of herbal tea laced with echinacea in between naps and watching the last of the winter snow melting away into spring.

Edie Wolfe was one of the first Carding-ites to succumb so she’s now on the healing side of the equation. She’s on day six of her self-imposed regimen of fluids and sleep. She’s read three books so far but can’t remember any of them, consumed the last of her candied ginger from Christmas (a present from her sister Rosie), and now she’s pulled a comfy chair up to her front window so she can watch the sun play with the puddles spreading out from the mounded snow at the end of her driveway.

Of course you know what happens when you sit still. You start to notice stuff.

“Hmph,” Edie said as she leaned forward to run a forefinger over the windowsill. “You can tell I haven’t dusted in here for a while.”

So she moseyed out to the kitchen for her tote of cleaning products, a sponge and a bucket of warm water.

And the windowsills got a thorough cleaning. Then the top of the honey-colored wainscoting got the full treatment. As she nudged her chair to one side to reach a far corner, Edie realized she hadn’t vacuumed since catching the flu. So the vacuum came out of the closet.

Before too long, she was moving furniture to get at all those hard-to-reach places normally hidden from public view. That’s when she realized that Nearly had left his nose prints all over the lower pane of the storm door on the front of Edie’s house. While Edie had her favorite chair, Nearly, being a wee cocker spaniel, preferred sitting in the sun streaming in the front of the house as he surveyed the great world beyond his home with Edie.

As she washed the windows in the front door, knowing full well that her dog would lay down new signatures as soon as she was done, Edie’s gaze drifted out to the porch that wrapped around the northwest corner of her house. Some of the accumulated detritus of her autumn cleanup was still there, abandoned when the winter’s first storm hit Carding.

She sighed, a roll of paper towels in her hand. It was a truism widely acknowledged in northern New England that whatever is still outside when the first snowflakes fall will still be there when the sun comes up on the vernal equinox.

“I should have taken that stuff down to the basement,” she told Nearly. “Do you think I should do that now?”

The little dog’s tail fluttered with excitement. It had been days since he’d had a proper walk and he was up for anything that encouraged Edie to step outside.

“Okay. I guess we can do that. I’ll get my coat.”

Over the course of a year, the daytime temperature in Vermont can range from a very frosty 20 degrees below zero to a sweltering day in the 90s with humidity that makes it almost impossible to breathe. This wide disparity means that the terms “warm” and “cold” are relative. In January, anything above freezing is considered warm. In mid-August, anything below 65 is “pretty cold for this time of year.”

Today, at the end of March—a month infamous for its unpredictability—the thermometer in Edie’s kitchen hovered around the 40 degree mark, and with the clear sky and light breeze, it felt positively balmy outdoors.

She zipped up her work jacket as she stepped outside, sniffing the air for that first tantalizing taste of spring, the scent of wet earth. Nearly hopped down the front steps, turned to look at Edie and when she did not follow, he hopped back up.

“Sorry, little guy, I don’t think I’m up for a walk today. Be grateful we’re outside.”

She contemplated the detritus. It was mostly flowerpots, some emptied of soil, some not. There was a short stack of five-gallon pails, useful for all sorts of projects. Every household in Carding had at least four of them. 

Next she unearthed a rake, it’s wooden handle splintered at its halfway point.

“That’s right. I was going to replace that. I wonder if Andy has any handles at the store,” Edie said.

Nearly’s ears pricked up at the word store. He hopped down the front steps, turned to look at an unmoving Edie, and then hopped back up, albeit with a lot less enthusiasm.

“Hey Edie. Good to see you up and about,” Ruth Goodwin called from the infamous yellow Jeep she drove on her rounds for the U.S. Postal Service. “How are you feeling?”

“Better now that the sun is shining and it’s spring.” Edie gestured at the still-deep piles of snow as she walked down the steps. “How soon do think it will be before this is gone?”

Ruth pointed at the ground near her friend’s feet. A clot of white snowdrops were poking up through the snow beneath the bare branches of a sleeping lilac bush. Edie gasped with pleasure. 

Ruth squinted up at the sky. “Oh, I think another week, ten days at the most. It’s supposed to be clear all week, you know. Hey, I thought you were going to replace that rake’s handle last fall.”

“Yeah, you know how it is. The best laid plans…”

“Yeah, I was just at the Coop. Andy’s got a big display of seeds and he was putting out the new gardening tools when I was there.”

“Really?” Edie shaded her eyes to look across the green at Cooper’s General Store. “Now that does sound inviting. This kind of weather makes my fingers itch for digging.”

She looked down at Nearly, his face all smiles. “Well, it probably would be okay if we took a short walk. What do you think?”

The cocker’s tail disappeared in a blur.

“Well, will you look at that,” Ruth said. “Just when you thought it couldn’t go any faster, it does. Looks like you’re committed to some perambulation now.”


Remember, you can visit Carding any time by scouring the archive of older stories or 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.

 

Spring Cleaning

While dogwoods may be in bloom elsewhere, Vermonters still have to contend with snow on the ground. But the white tide is receding.

Watching the snow pack melt is like watching winter in reverse. The fluffy stuff on top coagulates into ice crystals that act and sound like glass beads when you walk through them. And when you get to the very bottom of the snowy mounds, you find the sheets of ice laid down in a fury of December storms that brought the dreaded wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain to the area.

But where there’s melting snow, there’s hope for spring, right?

Of course. There’s always hope for spring, especially in Carding, Vermont.

Here’s a sample of tomorrow’s Carding Chronicle. Hope you can stop by.

SH-Snowdrops