Category Archives: Gong Girls

Missing Santa Claus

gorro-1

Our family missed Santa Claus this year.

Ever since we moved to Vermont seven years ago, our family has attended the “Very Merry Middlebury” festivities in downtown Middlebury on the first Saturday of December. This annual celebration, designed to welcome the winter holiday season, includes a hot chocolate hut, horse-drawn carriage rides, a scavenger hunt for themed ornaments in Main Street’s shop windows, and various craft fairs. The Sheldon Museum’s spectacular model train diorama is open to the public, as are the impressive entries in the Vermont Folklife Center’s gingerbread creation contest. Inspired children can make (and eat) their own graham cracker “gingerbread” houses at Ilsley Public Library.

Santa Claus himself begins the day, riding into Middlebury atop a town fire engine.

We look forward to the Very Merry Middlebury tradition every year. But this year, there was some consternation among the adults in our family when we noticed that the schedule listed Santa’s arrival at 9:15 AM.

Click here to continue reading this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent.

For the Boy Next Door

IMG_0664

Girls like swords, too!

When we moved into our current house, we moved next door to a boy. He’s an only child, and we share part of our long driveway with him and his mother.

The boy next door, whom I’ll call Theo, was nine years old at the time – a year older than my eldest daughter. The first time we met Theo was the day we took possession of our house: He and his mother joined us for pizza on our lawn, since we had no furniture in the house. My girls were so loud, and there were so many of them; I was certain that they’d overwhelm Theo. On top of that, my oldest daughters had recently picked up the sort of “girls rule, boys drool,” attitude that seems to predominate early elementary school culture.

In short: I couldn’t imagine much of a future for Theo and my daughters.

Click here to continue reading my latest “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent.

Curiouser and Curiouser

ready-to-have-your-mind-blown-look-who-was-screaming-about-deficits-in-2004

 

“The flags are lowered again! What happened this time, Mama?”

I was driving three of my daughters along Route 7, down to Brandon for a rehearsal of their homeschool production of Alice in Wonderland.

The last time I’d attempted to frame tragedy in age-appropriate terms had been only a month before, when area businesses flew their flags at half-mast to mourn the deaths of 59 people after a mass shooting in Las Vegas. This time around, we were mourning the shooting deaths of 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

I took a deep breath, and tried to arrange my words.

***

Lately I’ve been interested in how nature seems to be mirroring the prevailing mood in this country. Or is it the opposite: Is the prevailing national mood a reaction, at least in part, to natural events? Further: Am I overgeneralizing when I write of a “prevailing national mood?” Is it most accurate to state that nature seems to mirror my mood, or the moods of myself and my nearest friends?

You see how written expression can become complicated.

Click here to continue reading my latest attempt at written expression in this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent. 

Doing All the Things

IMG_0591

“You should write about this in your next column,” my nine-year-old daughter said.

She was huddled together with her three sisters and our two neighbors, attempting to walk in lockstep across our backyard while cupping their hands to shield a monarch butterfly from the wind whipping through our little valley. They’d discovered the monarch minutes earlier, clinging to a blade of grass in the field. It kept trying – and failing – to fly; whether it was newly hatched or had a problem with its wings, we weren’t sure. The huddle of monarch rescuers was attempting to get the butterfly onto a flowering plant by our front door, where it would be more protected from the wind.

It was a lovely scenario, to be sure: an example of communal compassion. But here’s what really struck me: My daughter was suggesting that I write about it. My daughter, who next month will enter double-digits when she turns ten, is now reading my columns and offering feedback.

It’s just another example of how we’ve moved up to the next stage of childrearing.

Click here to continue reading this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent.

 

My Interview for “The Story Matters”

This morning — after I fed the poultry — I had the pleasure of taping an interview with Len Rowell for his program on Middlebury Community Television, “The Story Matters.” We talked about libraries, children, storytelling — the good things of life. If you’d like to watch, here it is! (And if not, you’re in good company: My own children, whom you’d THINK would be a little excited that their mother was on TV, have absolutely no interest. Nada. Zilch. My little humblers.)

Change and the Library

reading, glasses, atop, pages, open, dictionary, book

“Is that a new cash register?” my eight-year-old daughter asked the woman behind the counter at Otter Creek Bakery last week.

I do take my daughters to the bakery on a semi-regular basis because “they” need treats — but I don’t take them so often that I’d expect them to notice a different cash register.

The woman behind the counter seemed as surprised as I was when she answered, “Why, yes….Yes, it is!”

My daughter threw her hands in the air and turned to me. “See! Everything in town is changing and getting more modern!”

Change is hard for kids, who tend to crave routine and predictability. But my daughter was right: By any measure, the past year has brought a dizzying array of changes to Middlebury, especially from a kid’s eye view.

Click here to continue reading this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent. 

Apples, Fall, and the Future

IMG_0568

 My husband arrived home one evening during the first week in September after a stop at the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op. He raised his arm in triumph, clutching the handle of a small brown paper bag filled with Macintosh apples and bearing the stamp of Shoreham’s Champlain Orchards.

“Vermont apples are back!” he announced joyfully.

Click here to continue reading this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent.