Tag Archives: carding vermont

A Moment to Muse

SH-sundewsYou 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, Coming Up for Air, will be out later this year.

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

Please share these with your friends, co-workers, and all the family members you like best. I understand they go great with morning coffee.

This week, we’re paddling and musing in a kayak with Wil Bennett. He’s going to be a senior in high school this year, the time when most teenagers dream about leaving home. But Wil has a different point of view.

Enjoy!

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Adults forget so many things when they reach a certain stage of maturity. They forget how to hide vegetables they don’t want to eat. They forget the joy of scribbling with crayons.

They forget the thrill of getting their driver’s license.

But most of all, they forget how scary the leap from childhood can be for those standing on the precipice.

Wil Bennett won’t tell you but the prospect of leaving home does scare him. It’s not going to college that bothers him. He’s a better than average student. It’s just that he already has what he wants, and if you already have what you want, why should you leave?

Oh, he complains about working at the bakery that his parents own, and he complains about his teachers, and curfews, and homework. But deep down, he’s clinging to the green that marks the center of Carding, and the baseball games played at night on the high school field, and the hushed thump-thump of a paddle hitting the side of his kayak as he launches it on Half Moon Lake.

When August rolled around, Wil promised himself he’d get up and out every morning until the first day of school. In his opinion, the best time to be on the lake is when the cool air of the departing night meets the warmed surface of the water, creating a ghostly fog that makes the world disappear.

If only for a little while.

“So what if I want to stay here? Is that so bad?” he whispered to himself as he launched his boat.

He dipped his way forward until the mass of Belmont Island was just visible. Then he swung the back of the kayak around to paddle toward the head of the lake where the Crow’s Head Falls crashes into the water.

Wil was headed toward the marshy cul-de-sac near the base of the falls, a place of low water and fascinating bog plants such as carnivorous sundews and pitcher plants. It was his favorite spot on the whole lake. Just to his left, a neighborhood beaver smacked its tail on the water to register her displeasure at having her morning routine interrupted by a human. Then a pair of Canada geese grumbled out of Wil’s way, and a fish broke the surface with a subdued splash.

As he raised his paddle so he could drift, Wil was startled to realize there were tears in his eyes. “Why would anyone want to leave here?” he asked himself again. And even though his parents felt the same way about Carding, he could hear their questions: What are you going to do? How are you going to make a living?

His kayak bumped into a rock just under the surface, stilling any forward motion. Who did he know that had stayed in Carding, and how were they making it work?

There was Lee Tennyson, the current owner of his family’s farm. Lee raised and sold any number of crops—strawberries, blueberries, apples, corn, and pumpkins chief among them. He cut wood with a team of Belgian horses that he’d rescued from a former owner. In late winter, Wil was part of the Tennyson maple sugaring team who helped boil the sap and bottle the syrup. He loved that.

Lee’s wife, Christina, raised goats for their milk, and last year, Tennyson chevre won the “best of the fest” prize at the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival. Lee will tell you all about it without any urging.

Do I want to be a farmer, Wil wondered.

Then there was Andy Cooper who was the the fifth generation in his family to manage Cooper’s General Store and Emporium. Do I want to own a store, Wil asked himself.

A subtle shift in the light urged Wil to pick up his paddle. It took more than an hour to get around the lake, and he was scheduled to caddy up at the country club at 9:30 so he had to get moving.

Would I want to run a country club? Wil’s nose wrinkled up at that notion. Every time he saw the club’s general manager, the man looked like he was being chased by those Harpies that feature so prominently in ancient Greek myths.

No way.

Dip, splash, paddle. Dip, splash.

Wil sighed big and loud, startling a nearby crow who wasn’t any more pleased by his presence than the beaver had been. Just about every adult he’d consider emulating in Carding ran a family business.

He stopped moving as he considered the ramifications of that thought. Would he, given the chance, want to own the Crow Town Bakery?

Did the key to his future lay in blueberry muffins and coffee?

Hmmmmm.

The Hammock Report

SH-Faye BennettYou 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, Coming Up for Air, will be out later this year.

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

Please share these with your friends, co-workers, and all the family members you like best. I understand they go great with morning coffee.

This week, we’re lazing into August, the warmest month of the year. Faye Bennett’s, who’s going to be sixteen next month, is taking advantage of a quiet afternoon to send an email to her Uncle Dan.

Enjoy!


Hey Uncle Dan,

Wish you weren’t so far away because you’re missing the whole summer in Carding, and in my opinion, it’s one of the best ever.

The whole town is going nuts because our baseball team won the state championship (Wil was awesome on first base and his friend Brian was the winning pitcher), the Carding Academy was featured in the arts section of the New York Times so there’s a ton of strangers in town coming to see it, and last night we had the best concert on the green—EVER!

It was a reggae band brought here by Dirt Road Radio and I saw tons of people dancing who NEVER dance. Seriously, Gram and Andy Cooper can really wiggle their hips and I saw Ruth Goodwin dancing with my English teacher. During the last song, folks made a long line that snaked around the green and the police had to stop traffic coming into town until the music was over.

I made a video for you because Gram and Andy were getting real friendly and I want to know what you think about it. Mom said it’s none of my business, and that Gram’s old enough to know her own mind. I know that’s true but it was weird to see old people kissing like that.

Anyway, the whole town slept late this morning. I know that because Sunday is the bakery’s busiest breakfast day but hardly anyone showed up before ten. Even Mom and Dad were moving slow this morning, and they kept smiling at one another a lot but I don’t want to think about what that might mean. They even closed the bakery early, saying it was too hot to work which is why I’m lying in this hammock writing to you instead of sweeping the bakery floor.

You haven’t had a chance to meet Wil’s friend Brian Lambert but I hope you do next time you visit. He’s really nice and he makes me laugh and he made sure I got included in the group that went down to the beach after the concert was over. I though Mom and Dad were going to say no—they had one of those silent looking-at-each-other things when they’re trying to figure out if they’re thinking the same way without talking to one another—but Wil stepped in and said he’d watch out for me and that’s when their no flipped to yes.

Of course, I didn’t see Wil once we got to the beach but I expected that because he spends a lot of time with this girl named Janice and she was there too. As for Brian and me, let’s just say that I liked him even more by the time I got home.

Please don’t tell Mom and Dad about this, okay? You promised I could talk to you about stuff and you wouldn’t repeat it because they think I’m still ten years old. I’m counting on you.

On a totally different subject, do you remember me telling you about that big split in the Carding Quilt Guild, the one where Gram and a bunch of her friends got into a shouting match with some of the newcomers over last year’s election? I don’t think I’ve ever seen Gram so mad as she was that day. (I hope she never gets mad at me like that.)

Well, Suzaanna and I were sharing ice cream on a bench on the green a couple of weeks ago and that gave us a front row seat when the two guilds faced off over who was running the Carding Fair. The leader of the newcomers (they’re the ones who stayed together as the Carding Quilt Guild) is this awful woman named G.G. Dieppe. She and her husband live in one of the biggest houses on the Mount Merino golf course, and she thinks that gives her the right to tell everyone what to do.

To make matters even worse, she likes to brag about how much she does for the church. She belongs to St. John’s Episcopal and I keep hearing stories about how she’s driving poor Reverend Lloyd nuts with her demands. Dad told me there’s some people who have stopped going to that church who have been there forever, and there’s talk of getting the bishop to intervene. Can they make someone quit a church if they’re awful enough?

Anyway, Gram and her friends and a bunch of the regular fair volunteers—about thirty people—were meeting on the green to talk about layout for this year when G.G. and five of her friends showed up. G.G. claimed that “her” group were the only ones who could run the fair because it started with the Carding Quilt Guild so it had to be the Carding Quilt Guild.

It was weird to watch what happened next. Instead of arguing, Gram’s group went dead quiet. Then they moved slow and deliberate until they made a circle around G.G.’s crew.

When the circle was complete, they just stared at G.G. and her friends while she went on and on and on. It was easy to see that the women with her were pretty uncomfortable pretty quick. In a couple of minutes, one of them left, almost running across the green.

Over the next few minutes, all the other women who came with G.G. melted away until it was just her. That’s when she finally stopped talking, and everyone in Gram’s group went back to planning the layout of the fair as if G.G. didn’t exist.

Suzanna and I were very impressed. I don’t know if it was planned or not but it just goes to show there are more ways to fight a battle than by words or fists.

So Wil and Brian are seniors this year, and I don’t want to think about what happens after they graduate. They’re working as caddies up at the country club this summer, and they both hate it. Brian claims that rich people are the stingiest people in the whole world. Dad says that’s how they stay rich. Wil’s talking about leading a caddy strike during the Vermont Amateur Championship tournament at the end of the month.

You should try to be here for that.

Miss you lots. Mom and Dad say you don’t get here often enough so come soon.

Love,
Faye

The Truth About Fairy Godmothers

SH-Fabric stripsYou 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, Coming Up for Air, will be out later this year.

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

Please share these with your friends, co-workers, and all the family members that you like best. I understand they go great with morning coffee.

This week, we’re going to spend some time learning about Chloe Cooper and how she decided to become a quilter and textile designer. Like most people, her choice had a bit of serendipity to it.

Or was it the fairy godmothers?

This is the first of two parts. Enjoy.


Growing up, Chloe Cooper always thought of herself as an “in-betweener.” It started when her battling parents finally decided to lay down their verbal weapons and get a well-earned divorce. As she shuttled between their houses, Chloe never felt comfortable in either place. At her mother’s, she was pushed out of the spotlight by her younger sister, Lisa, who lived for nothing but the latest hairdo, the most outrageous makeup, and clothes that left little about her physical attractions to the imagination.

The whole hair-makeup-clothes thing bored Chloe but her mother, Angela, reveled in it as much as Lisa. When she was at her mother’s overnight, Chloe always tried to block her ears as the two of them hooted and chortled together in the bathroom so she couldn’t feel how lonely she was.

Her dad, Charlie, tried to ease the rub of being an in-betweener but he was never sure how. He was a man of paper. By day, it was the torts and filings that underpinned his lawyering activities. By night, it was the books that fed his history habit. Chloe liked paper well enough but she preferred it with paint on it.

As her senior year of high school drifted by, Chloe began to panic over the idea of leaving Carding for college. It mystified her how her teachers, her father, her friends, and even her mother (who rarely noticed anything beyond herself) thought Chloe should be thrilled about leaving town for some strange school. But as she lay under her blankets at night, Chloe wondered why none of them realized that fitting in some place else was going to be even harder for her than finding a place in Carding.

What Chloe needed was a fairy godmother. She knew that. She needed someone to change her pumpkin of a life into an elegant carriage that would sweep her away to a future that made sense.

But she figured that fairy godmothers were rare in Carding, Vermont.

She was wrong.

The local librarian, Jane Twitchell (who turns out to be one of the fairy godmothers in this story) looked nothing like the magical ladies in the tales kept in the 398.2 section of the Frost Free Library in Carding. Chloe knew every book in that section because 398.2 was her favorite Dewey decimal number in the whole catalogue. It’s the designation for fairy tales, mythology, and lore. It’s the place to go if you’re looking for sumptuously illustrated tales by Arthur Rackham, well-thumbed copies of the Blue, Red, Yellow and Orange Fairy Books by Andrew Lang as well as stories by Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm.

Chloe loved them all and the librarian noticed.

As her senior winter sauntered toward her senior spring, Chloe withdrew more and more from the people around her. Her sister and mother didn’t notice—they never noticed Chloe at all—while her father tried but failed to reach her. The only place Chloe felt comfortable was the library so she took to wandering there every afternoon after school. The ageless Jane Twitchell worried, telling her sister Isabel that Chloe became “more ethereal by the day.”

Now it must be as apparent to you as it is to me that Chloe Cooper was stuck, not the spin-your-wheels-in-the-snow kind of stuck but more like the can’t-get-out-of-neutral stuck. She had no direction in her life, no passions, no idea how to go forward or even backward. She was stuck, plain and simple.

Now sometimes when you’re in that state of mind, it’s easier for new ideas to find you. This is where fairy godmother number two, Isabel Twitchell, comes in.

Twitchell Two, as Chloe called Isabel, arrived in Carding every year with the redwing blackbirds whose chatter animated the trees by the Corvus River on the first day of spring. At some time or another, Twitchell Two had worked for the state of Vermont before retiring with a pension in a size commensurate with a state legislature that thought of itself as fair but frugal. In other words, Two had enough to live on if she was prudent.

And Isabel Twitchell was always prudent. That’s why she confined her travels to visits with family. In return for their free accommodations, Twitchell Two cooked meals, spent time with the nieces and nephews in her preferred age range—after diapers but before raging hormones—as well as performing other services when she observed an unmet need.

Normally Twitchell Two limited her visits to three days: “Long enough to be helpful but not long enough to be tiresome,” as she liked to say. The only time Isabel broke that rule was when she visited her younger sister, the librarian.

By the time of this story, Twitchells One and Two had spent several years making plans to live together once Jane retired with her pension from the library. They were careful women so before that day arrived, they wanted to be sure they were compatible. To that end, Twitchell Two lengthened her stay with Twitchell One by three days every year. And at the end of Two’s stay, the sisters would discuss the tenor of their time together.

It was during one of those discussions that the sisters Twitchell agreed to acquire some crafty skills to fill their evenings at home, the passive watching of television being deemed a waste of time.

So Jane learned to knit socks while Isabel learned to quilt.

Twitchell One knit her socks from sweaters she bought at secondhand shops. After unsewing their seams, she’d carefully unravel the yarn, wash it and then rewind her treasure into balls. Twitchell Two haunted the same type of shops on her travels, scooping up men’s tropical shirts and women’s summer dresses for quilting fabric.

Anyone devoted to the art of quilting will tell you there are so many ways to put fabric together, you can spend a lifetime learning them all. It didn’t take long for Isabel Twitchell to discover she loved hand sewing more than the machine variety because it was more portable and the cost of tools fit her prudent budget. Eventually, she settled on appliqué as her favorite technique.

The technique called appliqué began with the mending of clothes when smaller pieces of cloth were sewn over holes in  larger pieces of cloth. Over time, some creative folks realized they could use appliqué in decorative ways by cutting the smaller pieces of fabric into shapes like hearts, flowers, stars, leaves, and birds.

Twitchell Two may have been a staunch traditionalist in most ways but when it came to choosing color for her quilts, she was anything but. Isabel’s appliqué danced with brilliant scarlets, blazing yellows, pop-you-in-the-eye greens, and bright sky blues. It was looking at all the beautiful colors in her sister’s quilts that gave Jane an idea about how to help Chloe.

On one especially desolate, drizzly March afternoon, Jane persuaded Isabel to take her sewing to the alcove near the fairy tale section in the library. At first, Chloe ignored Twitchell Two and her flying needle. But as she ran her finger over the spines of the books in the 398.2 section looking for favorite tales to re-read, it suddenly struck Chloe how many references there were to textiles in her preferred reading material. Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger on a spindle, Cinderella wore patched rags, and the young heroine in Rumpelstiltskin is commanded to weave gold out of straw.

These thoughts made something stir inside Chloe. At first, this stirring was uncomfortable but the young woman decided not to chase the feeling away because the novelty of it amused her. That’s when she started paying attention to Isabel Twitchell and her magic needle.

If Twitchell Two noticed Chloe’s intense gaze, she gave no sign as her needle and thread transformed scraps of purple into lilacs, reds into roses, and yellows and browns into sunflowers.

After all, creation is a seductive act, and it is fair to say that Twitchell Two had been seduced.

As Chloe studied the older woman’s face, she realized that Isabel’s eyes sparkled, and the wrinkles in her cheeks disappeared into soft smiles as she sewed. For the first time, Chloe saw something she wanted to do, and the craving to create woke her up.

But now that she was awake, what was she supposed to do next? She thought about asking Twitchell Two for help but she didn’t want everyone in town to know her business, particularly her shallow sister and no-less shallow mother.

No, Chloe decided, learning to sew had to be a private learning experience.

Strange as it seems, Lisa was the one who made that experience possible when she decided she “had to have” some new spangly something-or-other from the Cherries Jubilee store in Burlington. Since their mother had to work, Chloe got stuck with the driving duties to Vermont’s largest city.

When they finally got to the store, Chloe took one look at the bejeweled thongs and feathered push-up bras in the front window and refused to go inside.

“Oh my gawd, Chloe,” Lisa squealed, “are you planning to grow up to be a nun or something? Come on!”

But Chloe snatched her arm away. “I’ll be back to get you at…,” she looked at her watch, “at three.” Then she swept her arms wide to encompass the length of Church Street, Burlington’s renowned pedestrian mall. “I’m sure you can find something to amuse you until then.”

Lisa crossed her arms. Even in her heavy coat, her ample endowments drew glances from the men walking by. “And where are you going? The library?” she asked.

“That’s a great idea,” Chloe said. “See you at three.”

Lisa smiled as her sister trudged away then headed for the thong section of her favorite store.

Gardens of Comfort and Joy

SH-Garden PhloxYou 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, Coming Up for Air, will be out later this year.

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

Please share these with your friends, co-workers, and all the family members that you like best. I understand they go great with morning coffee.

Well, this is the BIG weekend for the Carding Home and Garden tour. If you’ve missed the prelude to this event, you can catch up here, here and here.

Otherwise, saddle up! The judging’s about to begin.


Jane Twitchell, Carding’s erstwhile librarian, felt a wee bit nervous as she thumbed through the entries for the best-in-show trophy for the Carding Home and Garden tour. She’d never seen so many. Who knew there were 36 such ardent gardeners in her hometown?

At first she’d sorted the entries in alphabetical order—she was a librarian, after all—but then countermanded her decision and grouped them by location. Otherwise, the four judges would be racing all over town just to catch a glimpse of the gardens never mind spend enough time to judge them.

The faithful grandfather clock in the library’s entry quietly reminded Jane that it was seven o’clock and the judges were now waiting for her in the parking lot. Don’t be so nervous, she scolded herself. It’s the library’s biggest fundraiser of the year. All the tickets are sold and the entries… She looked down at the papers in her hands again.

Thirty-six entries. Who would have thought?

This means it’s a success, right?

As she walked out to the parking lot, Jane’s hands shook a little and she was grateful not to be one of the judges.

“They’re getting their paperwork,” Ruth Goodwin whispered, “and they’re sorting themselves out with a town map. No sign of G.G. yet.” She handed her binoculars to Agnes Findley so her friend could take a turn watching from Edie Wolfe’s attic window.

“Hmmm, that’s strange. After the big fit she threw in the library last week when Jane objected to the pages she tore out of all those Fine Gardening magazines, I figured G.G. would be stalking the judges. After all, she’s been stalking us all week.” Agnes turned the binoculars over to Edie.

“You’re right. No sign of G.G. I wonder what that means,” Edie said as she examined the cars in the library parking lot.

Keys rattled in Ruth’s hands. “Let’s go see, shall we?”

Minutes later, the three friends were packed into Ruth’s Jeep and headed toward the oversized, overpriced mansion that the Dieppes owned on Mount Merino. As soon as Ruth parked at the head of the trail they’d cut through the woods to G.G.’s backyard, they pulled on their gardening boots to creep through the underbrush.

They were still a good twenty feet away when a shrill voice made them stop in their tracks.

“What do you mean I need to water them?” The pitch of G.G.’s voice hurt the ear.

“Just what I said,” a young voice replied. “You’ve got to water plants after you stick them in the ground.”

“Well, why didn’t you do that?”

“I did, last week when I planted them,” the young man replied. “But you didn’t want to pay me to take care of them. You said you’d spent enough money on them already. It’s not my fault it hasn’t rained.”

Edie, Ruth and Agnes moved forward, being careful not to rustle the Joe Pye weed that towered over their heads. Its heavy flowers were on the verge of bursting open and the slightest touch set them waggling.

“You mean I spent $3,000 on plants and you just let them die? The judges will be here any minute. Do something!”

Ruth’s eyebrows leaped up her forehead at the mention of $3,000 spent on plants. If you added up all the money she’d ever spent on her gardens, it wouldn’t come anywhere close to that.

“Wait! What are you doing?” G.G. yelled. “Where do you think you’re going?”

“You said to do something.” The young man’s face was tight with anger as he looked over his shoulder. “You’re not a gardener at all. You don’t care any more about these plants than you do about a lost golf ball so I’m doing something. I’m outta here.”

Edie dropped to her knees—no small feat for someone with arthritis—and crept forward. She just had to see. Ruth and Agnes were right behind her.

The devastation in G.G.’s yard nearly made them gasp. Ruth, the most tenderhearted gardener of the three (she had a hard time thinning carrots), almost bounded out of the underbrush in a bid to rescue the prostrate zinnias, echinacea, celosia, poppies, begonias, lobelia, hosta and nasturtiums. The fact that they were all dying of preventable thirst made her want to weep.

But Edie and Agnes pulled her back. It was time to go.

“Let’s just hope Jane remembered to do as I asked when she put those entries in order for the judges,” Edie said as they sped through the center of town. “The poor thing’s been a nervous wreck all week. She can’t get over the fact that G.G. cut up magazines that belong to the library.”

As soon as the Jeep stopped, the three women threw open all its doors. Gardening buckets full of tools were pulled from the back storage compartment, and in a flash, the three were taking last-minute snips, fluffing up the soil where it met the neatly clipped lawn, and poking their fingers into the dirt to check its moisture level.

“All right then?” Andy Cooper asked as he pulled into the parking lot.

“Where are the judges?” Ruth asked.

“Last seen headed up to Lydie Talbot’s place,” Andy said as he gazed at all the bright flowers and vegetables in the elementary school garden. “You and the kids have done a great job in here. I brought a couple of bags of mulch, just in case you need it.”

“We haven’t done much,” Edie said as she straightened up. “Just supervised a little.” And then she laughed when she saw a blinged-out scarecrow that the third-graders had set up in their corn patch.

Agnes looked at her watch. “It’s almost ten. I think we’d best get out of here”

The return trip to Edie’s house was slowed immeasurably by the home and garden lovers who’d packed the streets to see Carding’s best botanical efforts on display. Even though she’d planned to change her clothes, Edie never made it inside her house because she was whisked away to answer questions and give short tours.

At Ruth’s house, her daughter Sarah was barely holding down the fort for her mother and was glad to be relieved of the responsibility of talking about flowers. And Agnes arrived just in time to prevent her partner, Charlie, from giving out the wrong name to every plant in her gardens.

It was a long day but the sun finally crested and then slid back down the other side of the sky. With the tour part of the day over, folks crowded the town green to sop up tall glasses of lemonade and buy cookies made by the library’s trustees.

Finally, an exhausted Jane Twitchell approached the microphone set up in the town gazebo and rested her hand gently on the best-in-show trophy, a tall, hand-blown glass vase etched with the names of previous winners. A large contingent of excited students, fluttering like small birds, settled near her feet.

Agnes, Ruth and Edie finally spotted G.G. at the back of the crowd, her large straw hat askew, her cheeks ruddy with sunburn, and her eyes glaring at them.

“What’s she mad at us about?” Agnes whispered. “We didn’t forget to water her plants.”

“Do you think we could sneak up there to rescue some of them before she gets home?” Ruth asked.

“Ladies and gentleman.” Jane’s voice broke in before Edie or Agnes could answer Ruth’s question. “On behalf of the Frost Free Library of Carding, Vermont, I want to thank you all so much for coming.”

She held up an envelope. “The judges have made their decision.” She tore the envelope open. “And the winner is…”

It is said among the Carding-ites who were there that day that no one had ever heard anyone scream at the garden show before. It certainly made Jane Twitchell jump out of her skin when G.G. Dieppe let loose with her scorn for the announcement.

But they all agree that the hand-blown vase, with its mild hint of green in the glass, looked perfect in the elementary school’s trophy case.

They also agreed that they’d never seen so many different plants in Ruth Goodwin’s garden before.