Tag Archives: Crow Town Bakery

More Coffee?

365-72The Carding Chronicles are stories about the little town no one can find on a map of Vermont. When you subscribe to the Chronicles, a new story is delivered to your inbox every Friday. If you’re enjoying the Carding Chronicles, please share them with your friends!

And one additional note, the next Carding novel, The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life, will debut in this space on April 7. Twelve weekly installments will be delivered right to your inbox. Tell your friends to subscribe so they can enjoy it too.

Hillary Talbot, waitress extraordinaire of the Crow Town Bakery, didn’t need a calendar to know when the first day of spring drew near. Nope, no indeed.

Suddenly, no one wanted soup.

Suddenly, the booths by the front windows filled up earlier, and stayed crowded longer.

Suddenly, the conversations over eggs and toast changed from how much wood was left in the woodpiles to talk about maple sugaring, spreading manure on the local fields, and bear sightings.

“More coffee, Sam?” Hillary asked.

The young man smiled, and slid his cup across the table. “We were up all weekend boiling,” he told Lee Tennyson. “The sap was running that hard.”

“How’s the sugar content?” Lee asked. “High enough to make candy?”

“Oooh, any chance you’ll be making sugar on snow any time soon?” Hillary asked. Sugar on snow is made by pouring stripes of hot maple syrup over trays of packed snow. The result, if the sugar content of the sap is high enough, is a sort of taffy that’s rolled around a wooden coffee stirrer, and savored with a pickle or two to cut the intense sweetness.

“I think so,” Sam said. “We’re gonna be boiling again tonight. Why don’t you stop on by after work.”

“I’d love to bring the kids over,” Lee said. “Trevor’s been asking about sugar on snow ever since he spotted the steam coming out of your sugarhouse.”

Hillary heard Sam’s laugh, clear and strong, as she moved toward another table.

“More coffee?”

“Sure, sure,” Jane Twitchell smiled up at the young woman. Then she turned back toward her companion, Edie Wolfe. “We’re going to be doing some book weeding starting tomorrow morning. Care to join us?”

Edie nodded, and glanced at Hillary. The younger woman was renowned for her striking hair embellishments and wild socks. But the scarf twined around Hillary’s hair was rather subdued this morning, only one shade of purple, and when Edie looked down, she noticed that HIllary’s socks were only one shade of pink.

“I’ve overdue for laundry,” Hillary laughed, seeing the direction of Edie’s gaze. “These are my every-day. Nothing special.” She wandered off with her half-full pot.

“More coffee, Gideon?”

The bearded man shoved his phone inside his jacket pocket then grinned at the waitress. “Yeah, but just a half cup. I gotta get going.”

“Hmmm, big date?” Hillary asked.

“Yeah, but not the kind you’re thinking of,” Gideon said. Then he blushed a deep shade of scarlet, and Hillary raised a single eyebrow.


Gideon stood up. He had no intention of telling anyone about the sale of his house before the paperwork was signed. He’d been able to keep his purchase of two acres on Half Moon Lake under the radar, and he wanted to keep it that way to avoid uncomfortable questions from his father.

“Yeah,” he said to Hillary as he handed her a twenty. “A date like no other.”

“So it’s not…”

Gideon shook his head. He’d wanted to move ever since his divorce, move into something smaller, more efficient, closer to the lake so he could fish and boat more. “No, believe me, it’s not,” he said. “You know this town, everybody here would know if I had a girlfriend before I did.”

Hillary watched him clatter out the door as she refilled her pot.

“More coffee?”

“Yeah, thanks Hillary,” Charlie Cooper said. “How’s your Mom and sister?”

“They’re doing good,” Hillary told him. “The renovations on Mom’s house should be done later this week, and it’s none too soon because I think Amy and E.J. are at the end of their patience with her. You know how it is.”

Charlie chuckled. “I think the hardest thing for families is for two or three generations of adults to live in the same house at the same time. Somehow, when we reach a certain age, we all need a space to call our own. And if you don’t mind me saying so, your mother…”

“Would make anyone crazy,” Hillary finished the sentence for him. “Yeah, I know. She means well but somehow…well…Mom is just plain clunky when it comes to dealing with other people.”

“Who are we talking about?” Agnes Findley asked as she slid into the booth opposite her partner, Charlie.

“My Mom,” Hillary said. “And living with my sister and her husband.”

“Ah, that generational thing,” Agnes said. “I lived with my mother for the six months before she died, and it felt like six years. Even when we try so hard to be patient because someone’s sick or hurting, we still feel put-upon. I hope they’ve been able to get through your Mom’s house renovations without any hurt feelings.”

“I think so,” Hillary said, putting down a small pitcher of cream. “But just barely.”

The front door of the cafe banged open, and Ruth Goodwin flew in, her hair all awry. She made a beeline for the table where Edie Wolfe sat with the town librarian. “Okay, it’s official,” Ruth announced while Hillary poured her a cup of coffee. “This is THE worst mud season ever on the Beach Road.”

She raised the mug to her lips, and blew across the liquid, looking pointedly at Hillary. “It’s a good thing your mother isn’t living in her house this spring. I got stuck right down to my axles just beyond her house. That sinkhole’s back, and it’s deeper than ever. You’d better tell her to stay put for a while longer.”

Ruth sipped, and then dove headfirst into the conversation at her table. Hillary groaned for her sister (how was she going to break this to Amy?) as she headed back to the main coffee machine with her now-empty pot.

The bell on the bakery’s front door jingled once, twice and then three times, admitting a state police officer, Paula Bouton (Carding’s town manager), and Ted Owen, the postmaster. Amy would have to wait.

“More coffee?”

The next Carding Chronicle will be published on March 25. If you are enjoying these stories (they’re a great break from politics, eh?) please encourage your friends to subscribe.



Dear Uncle Dan

365-5050The Carding Chronicles are stories about the little town no one can find on a map of Vermont. When you subscribe to the Chronicles, a new story is delivered to your inbox every Friday. If you’re enjoying the Carding Chronicles, please share them with your friends!

Dear Uncle Dan,
I’m supposed to be studying for a history test but if I have to read any more about ancient Greece, I think I will scream. Besides, we haven’t seen you for a while, and I thought you might be homesick for Carding so I figured this would be a good time to send you a nice long email.

Everyone’s pretty good here. We haven’t had much snow so far this winter so there’s not much skiing which means most of the people in the Crow Town Bakery are locals which makes it nicer. I know that tourists are supposed to be a good thing but I get really tired of their snooty attitude, waltzing around town in their Lycra outfits and upscale jackets. You can pick them out a mile away, all black, pink and lime green.

Andy Cooper says the only people who look good in that stuff are twelve-year old girls because Lycra leaves “nothing to the imagination.” Personally, I think he’s right. I saw a guy yesterday, wearing Lycra, who looked like he was carrying a kangaroo in a pouch.

And he was smoking A CIGAR. Gag! Do those things taste as bad as they smell? He cleared the whole sidewalk with the stink of that thing which Wil said was his way of showing how important he is. Smoking something really stinky proves you’re important? Really?

I’ll never understand men so I’m glad I never have to be one.

Did you know that Peter Foster and Ted Owens bought the old insurance agency next to the bakery, and they’re starting a brewery? They bought this rig with lots of conveyor belts that move the bottles from the place where they get filled from the vats to the place where they get capped and then to the place where they get packed in boxes.

I think they’re still working the bugs out of the system because last night, a bunch of full bottles slid off and exploded all over the floor. The noise was BIG, you could hear it all over town. Luckily no one got hurt, and the beer smell got rid of the cigar smell so everyone was happy about that.

The Tennyson twins are back in town. They’re calling themselves Ginger and Goldie now. I don’t know what was wrong with the last names they had, Starr and Summer, or the ones before that. Seems like every time they go away on a trip, they come back with new names and hairdos. Mom says their last trip was to Las Vegas.

Anyway, they’re living in the house next to Gram’s, and I heard that they have plans to open a tea shop in the big front room if they can get the right permits. Andy doesn’t seem too pleased about it all. He keeps asking people “what kind of tea do you think they’re going to sell over there?”

Gram says that the Tennyson now called Ginger was always sweet on Andy when they were in high school together, and that Andy’s never recovered from “that relationship,” whatever that means. I notice he jumps a mile and gets away as quick as he can whenever Ginger shows up. And it’s hard not to miss her because she wears this perfume that Mom says is called  patchouli. In a way, it’s almost as bad as the cigar.

When I asked her why Ginger had to wear something so strong, Dad kinda rolled his eyes, and Mom said something about keeping people off the scent. I didn’t get what they meant but they didn’t want to explain more so I’ll have to get Wil to tell me.

Suzanna and I decided to go to the rally for our basketball team last Friday. Wil’s playing guard on the varsity squad this year, though he’s only second string. There’s this new girl hanging around him. She’s got a funny first name, Xylan, and she giggles every time Wil opens his mouth.

I know that Wil can be pretty funny, and you should see him imitate the tourists that come into the bakery. But this Xylan laughs when he says hello. So far, he’s not annoyed by it but I’m hoping he is soon.

The rally was okay until the end when Brian Muzzy came up to stand next to us during the last cheer. Brian plays guitar in the Shades, the band that won the talent show last fall, and Wil says he’s pretty good.

Brian never, ever says anything to me, not even “Hey.” Instead, he just stands there and looks at my shirt until it creeps me out.

Suzanna and I kept trying to get away from him but every time I turned around, there he was again, staring at me. So I finally told him that if he didn’t cut it out, I was going to break him where it counts the most. I said it real loud, too, and he finally left.

I guess he figured I was telling the truth even though I would never break anyone’s hands.

When are you coming to Carding again? Wil and Suzanna and I found a new entrance into the big cave down by the Crows Head Falls, and we want to explore it but Mom says we can’t go in there unless we have an adult with us. She says you’ll do in a pinch.

Love you and miss you,

The next Carding Chronicle will be published on January 15. If you are enjoying these stories (they’re a great break from politics, eh?) please encourage your friends to subscribe.

Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie

Edie Wolfe just got back from a morning walk with her dog, Nearly.
Goldie sleeping 7-7-14 for web
She gets asked about his name all the time, and this morning was no exception when a Joey (tourist) stopped her just outside the Crow Town Bakery when she called Nearly’s name.

“Well, my last name is Wolfe,” she explained. “So my little friend is Nearly Wolfe.”

Blank look.

“You know, all dogs are descended from wolves so they are all ‘nearly wolves,'” she said.

A small spark of comprehension glimmered in the eyes of her listener.

“And it’s also my homage to one of my favorite series of detective novels, Nero Wolfe,” she said.

“Oh, I saw that show on YouTube,” the man said, now thoroughly satisfied. “Now I see.”

And he walked off.

The dog looked up at the woman at the opposite end of his leash. Edie shook her head. “I doubt that,” she said and they walked on to the post office to pick up the day’s mail.