December 20, 2014

Sports Notes11/26/08

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Nov. 26, 2008

Middlebury College falls short of Div. III Final Four

With former Champlain Valley Union High soccer standouts Tyler Macnee, a freshman, and Carson Cornbrooks, a sophomore, playing key roles, the Middlebury College Panthers advanced to the regional finals of the national Division III playoffs. But facing Stevens Institute of Technology on Sunday night, the Panthers bowed out on a penalty kick shootout in Hoboken, N.J.

Cornbrooks helped force the tie that led to the shootout when he assisted on a Middlebury goal midway through the second half, knotting the game at 1-1.

Macnee, who led the Panthers with 13 goals, scored the lone tally Saturday in Middlebury’s 1-0 third-round triumph over Carleton.

Meier helps Midd to cross country title

Former Champlain Valley Union High cross country runner Hannah Meier, a Middlebury College sophomore, helped the Panthers win a fifth NCAA women’s cross country title on Saturday. Meier placed 39th among 279 runners and second for her team in the title event at Hanover, Ind.

Volleyball title

Helped by some local residents, the Vermont Commons girls volleyball team took home the state title on Nov. 1. The Vermont Commons team defeated Enosburg Falls High School, 25-13, in the championship match. Team members included sophomore Mikela Boudette of Williston and senior Celina Hickson of St. George.

Vermont Commons is an independent college preparatory school in South Burlington.

Rec League basketball registration

Registration is open for the Williston Recreation Basketball League. The league runs from December to February. Register through Williston Town Clerk, 878-5121. Coaches are needed. For more information e-mail Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Finnegan at [email protected]

 

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Redhawk football squad to compete in Division 2 next fall11/26/08

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Nov. 26, 2008

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

If the Vermont Principals’ Association approves the recommendation of the Vermont Interscholastic Football League coaches and athletic directors, Champlain Valley Union High will bid farewell to gridiron foes Bellows Free Academy of Fairfax, Oxbow High and Winooski High, and say hello to such powers as Middlebury High, Rice Memorial High and U-32.

 


    Courtesy photo by Terri Zittritsch
Champlain Valley Union High quarterback Konnor Fleming drops back to pass against Division 2 opponent North Country Union. The Redhawks, which had played in Division 3, will move up to Division 2 next season.

The VIFL, in its biennial evaluation of its three divisions, voted at a meeting last week to boot CVU from its present Division 3 up to Division 2 over the objections of head coach Jim Provost.

“We are in Division 2,” Provost said this week, having fought the good fight and lost. “We are now fine with it. The move is two years ahead of schedule but the kids are excited.”

Provost originally felt that the Redhawks, even with a much higher boy enrollment then other schools in Division 3, had not yet shown an ability to dominate the division. The Redhawks had made the playoffs as a fourth and final seed in two of their four years in competition.

The formula that the organization uses to establish its three divisions is based on number of boys playing football at the school, its total boy enrollment and number of victories in the past four years.

CVU’s enrollment of 680 boys and 82 in football pads this past season apparently was the determining factor in swinging votes against its proposal to spend another two years in the lower division, where Provost said it has won 41 percent of its games.

Apparently there is no consideration of a school’s traditions. Middlebury, which is moving down from Division 1, has a respected history in football going back decades.

CVU’s fall tradition is rich and successful — in soccer and cross country. Football next fall will enter its fifth season as a varsity sport where the future looks bright, the numbers strong, but the competitive edge still in development.

“We are a fledgling program and are still trying to get our feet under us,” Provost said. “Two more years would have given us more of an opportunity to benefit from our youth program.”

The veteran coach sees the big difference between the two divisions as one of balance.

“From top to bottom there is not a weak team in Division 2,” he said.

Other prospective intra-division opponents include Mount Mansfield Union, Colchester High, Milton High, Lyndon Institute and North Country Union.

Provost noted that CVU is 0-6 thus far in games against Division 2 teams.

“I hope this inspires the kids,” Provost concluded. “We have to get better and more physically mature as a team.”

Provost said the commitments have been made by the boosters and the school.

“Now we need the commitment from the kids,” he said.

 

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Hopes of CVU boys basketball team a matter of size11/26/08

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Nov. 26, 2008

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

“I thought we looked okay,” Champlain Valley Union High basketball coach Scott Bliss said a day after his charges scrimmaged Hartford High at home on Saturday to top off the opening week of tryouts and practice.

 


    Observer photo by Karen Pike
John Donnelly, a senior on the Champlain Valley Union High basketball team, controls the ball during a scrimmage on Saturday.

The Redhawks have another week and three days of workouts before they begin the new season on Dec. 4 with a trip to Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans. The home opener is the following Saturday afternoon, when Mount Anthony Union High of Bennington comes north.

Bliss has to replace six graduated seniors, the losses including high scoring Ben Brooks and Greg Gause, the 6-foot-7-inch scorer, rebounder and shot blocker.

“We are going to be very athletic,” said Bliss. “We will be able to put five guys on the floor who can handle the ball and shoot. Our issue could be lack of a big man.”

The coach said that while there is no huge presence under the basket, the team will have very good average size, which no doubt means rebounding by committee.

Senior John Donnelly is the tallest of the returnees at 6-foot-4 and, according to Bliss, “can play the post or out on the perimeter,” where he can knock down the treys.

Sophomore Jake Donnelly at 6-foot-2 saw serious playing time last season as a freshman.

Senior Jack Jesset (6-foot-2) is a returning starter and is expected to be a significant presence for the Redhawks, as is 6-foot junior Chris Nigh, who is up from a solid jayvee season a year ago.

Ryan Poirier, a 6-foot senior and 2007-08 starter, and 5-foot-10 junior Chris Beaton, coming off a breakout jayvee season, are among the leaders for the backcourt slots.

Bliss also has seen good work from senior Jordan Duke, a reserve last year, who brings a lot of energy to the backcourt and at 5-foot-9 is even a high riser when rebounds are in the offing.

Chris Banbury, a 5-foot-11 senior, is a transfer from Winooski High and should be a solid performer.

Also in the mix for those valuable game minutes are senior Andrew Leckerling (6-feet), junior Will Hurd (6-foot-2) and sophomores Kevin Lambert (6-foot-2), Andrew Gale (6-foot-1) and Robert Russ (6-feet).

“We are not big, but we have decent size. The question will be, can we compensate athletically for the lack of a really big man,” said Bliss.

The 13-man varsity roster was set after three days of tryouts that involved 23 hopefuls at the varsity level and 39 for jayvee A and B squads.

Earlier this week, the Redhawks were slated to travel to Rutland for another scrimmage. They will wind up the practice game schedule Dec. 1 with a 6 p.m. home session with Bellows Free Academy of Fairfax.

 

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Community provides configuration input at forum11/26/08

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Nov. 26, 2008

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

The Williston Conceptual Frameworks Committee continued its work toward deciding a future configuration of the school district by holding a community forum Monday night. The event was held by the committee to get the community’s response on what residents found to be the most important aspects of configuration.

 


    Observer photo by Tim Simard
Parent Jason Hibbeler votes for what he feels is the most important criteria the Frameworks Committee will discuss in deciding the school’s future configuration.

For parents, this was one of the first times their voices could be heard during the committee process. Some seemed optimistic the forum would yield positive results.

“There will be a good conversation that comes out of this,” parent John Hemmelgarn said.

About 60 parents and community members gathered in the Williston Central School cafeteria to vote on different criteria and brainstorm pros and cons of different configuration options.

Frameworks Committee Facilitator Mary Jane Shelley asked people to choose their top priorities from a list of more than 20 criteria options. Williston teachers had determined their top 10 list last Thursday during their own forum, and parents came up with similar choices on Monday.

For instance, both teachers and parents said fostering a strong sense of community and rich relationships over time, with continuity for students, families and teachers, was the number one issue in determining a future configuration.

Teachers and parents found similar ground on other issues, although their rank in importance tended to differ in each top 10 list. The top 10 lists of both parents and teachers can be found on the school district’s Web page, www.wsdvt.org, under the link for the Frameworks Committee.

Participants voted by putting multi-colored stickers on large sheets of paper next to their favorite items. Shelley allowed parents to make positive comments on why others should vote for certain criteria before decisions were made. She did not allow parents to make critical comments.

Some parents found the results of the earlier teacher’s forum encouraging.

“It seems like the teachers had a good sense of what was most important,” Melinda Friedlander said.

“They’re seeing what parents are seeing,” Pam Bouffard said.

Parent reactions

Hemmelgarn said he attended the meeting to make sure there were easier transitions for students in the future.

“Flexibility is a very important piece,” Hemmelgarn said.

Shelley Forrest, a parent and a teacher in Colchester, said her top issue was a greater focus on 21st century learning. She doesn’t want to see Williston students left behind.

“You have to know how to apply the knowledge you’ve learned,” Forrest said. “You have to be able to learn how to learn.”

Early in the evening, Shelley reiterated to community members the Frameworks Committee’s suggestions would not be done in time for the next school year, but instead for the 2010-2011 school year. Originally, work on configuration was to be completed by December and presented to the School Board in early January for budget considerations. In order not too rush the process, the committee and board decided to allow work to continue into the spring.

Beth LaStrada, the mother of five children, was unhappy to hear a new configuration would have to wait a year. She wants the community to be allowed to become more involved in School Board and Frameworks Committee meetings.

“If we’re going to do this (work) this intensely and drag this out, we should involve the community in every process,” LaStrada said.

She also said she wanted more debate on specific criteria items, rather than just hearing positive comments.

“They are trying to make this as sterile as possible,” LaStrada said.

Also during the forum, parents walked around the cafeteria to different flipchart stations where the pros and cons of certain topics — including multi-age classrooms, single-grade learning and different building configurations — could be discussed. Members of the Frameworks Committee and School Board wrote down the comments in appropriate columns. The large sheets of paper would also be used in future Frameworks discussions.

While looking at different flipcharts around the room, parent Tammy Pudlo said she liked the current multi-age system and likes the discussions the Frameworks Committee has had in its work. She said she would be open to changing the structure if it’s what the majority of the community wanted, but made it clear she was happy with the current set up.

“There is something to be said about having a four-year house,” Pudlo said. “Change is a little bit hard since it’s been working so well.”

Sue Scheer, parent of a second grader, said she was initially unsure of the house structure when her daughter started the first grade. She said it was a struggle initially with her daughter transitioning from half-day kindergarten to first grade last year, but this school year is much better with the help of teachers and older students.

“I’m seeing the benefits to (the current structure),” Scheer said. “The difference between the first grade and second grade for my daughter is huge.”

The Frameworks Committee meets again on Thursday, Dec. 4 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Another community forum is scheduled for Jan. 12.

 

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Police Notes11/26/08

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Nov. 26, 2008

Theft

• A juvenile stole books from Williston Central School on Nov. 17, according to police reports. The youth’s case was referred to the Williston Reparative Board.

• Zachary Shomer, 25, and Maria Jesuele, 30, both of Vergennes, were charged with retail theft from Wal-Mart on Nov. 18, according to police reports. Information about the value and type of merchandise allegedly stolen was not released.

• An ATV was stolen from a residence on Fay Lane on Nov. 21, according to police reports. The investigation is ongoing.

Assault

Darnell Stewart, 22, of Williston was charged with second-degree aggravated assault on Nov. 17, according to police reports. Stewart allegedly assaulted his girlfriend’s mother after the woman tried to stop him from taking an X-Box 360 gaming system as he was “in the process of packing his belongings” at the home he had shared with his girlfriend and her mother for more than three years, according to a police affidavit. Stewart, who has two previous convictions for domestic assault from February 2008, fled the scene after the altercation, according to the affidavit.

Police were unable to locate him, but Stewart subsequently called his probation officer, who advised him to “turn himself in,” according to Williston Police Sgt. Scott Graham. The probation officer met Stewart at the Vermont District courthouse, where he was arraigned on a charge of violation of probation in addition to the assault charge, according to Graham.

Stewart is being held for lack of $5,000 bail, Graham said. He is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 29.

Driving with a suspended license

Tawnja Suchoski, 32, of Burlington was charged with driving with a suspended license following a motor vehicle stop on Nov. 20, according to police reports. No information was available as to the nature of the suspension.

 

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Everyday Gourmet11/26/08

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Nov. 26, 2008

Black Friday in the kitchen

By Kim Dannies

No smack-down shopping in the superstores for me on Black Friday — I’ve declared this a retail-free season.

Instead, I’m preparing and sharing delicious consumables for family and friends. Friday will be a culinary cooperative in the kitchen whipping up gingerbread house parts, soups and sweet treats with my mom, sisters and kids. I found cute containers and bags at the craft store and deli to package and store the goodies. For my quick hit gifts, I find holiday-themed cellophane bags perfect for filling with pistachio nuts, trail mix or homemade granola: pop on a big, bright bow, and it’s a treat good to go anywhere.

There are several food-gift recipes on my Web site (kimdannies.com) that have become holiday classics over the years: gingerbread houses (Nov. 25, 2004); cream cheese sugar cookies (Dec. 18, 2003); chocolate almond bark (Dec. 9, 2004); Green Mountain chocolate chip cookies — I freeze the dough in quart containers (Oct. 13, 2005); healthy holiday quick breads (Nov. 20, 2003); crunchy granola (March 13, 2003); and BBQ marriage sauce (July 22, 2004). I guarantee that loved ones will be thrilled with any one of these mouthwatering treats.

Last year, pal Sherri George made these fragrantly delicious vanilla nuts for friends, and I loved them so much I’m adding them to my repertoire this season.

Vanilla nuts

You’ll need: 1 pound of walnut halves; 3 tablespoons of corn oil; 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract; 1/2 cup of sugar; 1/4 teaspoon each of ground coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice and salt; 1/8 teaspoon of white pepper.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Bring a large pan of water to a boil. Blanch walnuts 1 minute. Drain well. Transfer to a bowl. Blend corn oil with vanilla extract. Pour over hot nuts. Sprinkle in sugar and toss to mix well. Let stand 10 minutes. Arrange nuts on a rimmed baking tray. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until nuts are light brown and crispy. Stir nuts a few times during baking. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. When nuts are done baking, transfer to a large bowl while still hot. Toss with seasoning mixture. Return to baking sheet and spread in a single layer to cool. Serve at room temperature. (Double or triple the batch.)

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three college-aged daughters. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.

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Letters to the Editor11/26/08

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Nov. 26, 2008

An eye-opener for Williston

Due mostly to the exacerbation and relentlessness of the media creating a sense of doom, yes, local revenue has taken a hit. Lest we forget who is being hit the most:  local businesses, especially your local Mom and Pop’s.

In the past, Williston officials have taken for granted the revenue it pulls in from the local 1 percent sales tax. Most recently, your Williston representatives opted to have local business bear the brunt again by imposing a tax on all business utilities.

Williston continually bites the hand that feeds it and keeps residential property taxes stable. Is this really in your citizens’ best interest? Keep in mind your revenue is directly connected to how well Williston businesses do. Things have been less stressful since the resignation of D.K. Johnston, the obsessive ordinance official that made many of us miserable and contemplate relocation. But then Williston rewrote the ordinance rules to make them more confining.

We have always contributed generously to the community and now we do it every time we turn on our lights and heat our stores. With a window front restriction it will be hard to decide on supporting a local events poster or leaving an ad up for potential store revenue. We are not all corporate giants, we just want to make an honest living in a very nice town. So a little show of respect for those silent contributors to the success of your community.

Angela L. Emerson, owner

Amarah’s Chocolate Company

Williston

 

The band played on

Not the Williston Town Band, but ours, here in Williston Woods, a small community nestled away up on a hill off North Williston Road. Our float, “The Band Played On,” won the blue ribbon in the Neighborhood category on the Fourth of July.

We prided ourselves on that achievement and anticipated the barbecue to be hosted by the Williston Rotary Club on the 9th of September. Good food was cooked and served by Rotary members, including our very own Town Manager, Richard McGuire, and Director of Parks and Recreation, Kevin Finnegan. A local DJ provided the music that kept us dancing.

My point? The coverage of the event was a misnomer that needs to be corrected in order to preserve the integrity and well-deserved reputation of our Williston Observer. One picture of a dancing couple, with the title, “Dancing Days,” did not tell the true story in the Sept. 18 edition of the paper. Yes, we do have dancing feet, but the occasion was the kicker — the celebration of the Blue Ribbon! So now you have it — the whole story.

Williston Woods is only one of many neighborhood communities in our jewel of a town. I count 15 neighborhood communities in the Williston Resource Directory. What a parade of floats, or festive walkers, or stars-and-stripes cars overflowing with community members could grace the 2009 Fourth of July parade that celebrates our Williston and our USA. See you there.

Alice Bowman

Willison Woods

 

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Guest Column11/26/08

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Nov. 26, 2008

Now that the election is over

By Spencer M. Wright

Like so many others, I am relieved, proud of the choice America has made, and hopeful that the next eight years can bring about the growth of a new spirit and some new wisdom in this country.

My biggest fear is that the nation will not have the patience or the trust needed for President Obama to initiate improvements in our economy, in social justice and in our international stature. I am convinced, though, that he has the “right stuff” for the job. He will necessarily ask us to make sacrifices, and he has promised to tell us what we need to hear rather than what we want to hear.

We will no doubt have to re-think the meaning of the right to the “pursuit of happiness,” for it has acquired increasingly flexible boundaries. This right — perhaps not as it was envisioned in our Declaration of Independence — is often the primary but unacknowledged justification for what the powerful and the rest of us want to do. Self-interest drives a free-market economy, and social justice is not the concern of the “military-industrial complex.” For all of us, the credit card and the information highway have opened vistas of opportunity for immediate gratification, while the potential for painful costs often remains unobserved. Those of us whose cupboards are not bare have done little beyond clucking our tongues over the rampant consumerism in the richest (for now) nation in the world. We know that we face tremendous challenges to our economy, to our security, our stature in the world community and our environment. There is a real danger under those challenges that complacency, turning into outrage over unavoidably leaner measures of well-being, could overwhelm the fortitude we need to sustain our hope for change. President Obama will indeed be tested by us.

My second fear, not to be dwelt upon, is based on the reality that hate — and in particular, racist hate — is a real threat to our next president. It exists, and thrives, in enclaves of ignorance and prejudice that may wither or die but inevitably re-emerge.

Barack Obama’s broad grasp of things that matter, and his fluency and gravity in addressing them, particularly since he secured the election, give me hope that anyone who is willing to pay attention will be able to set aside ideological, racial and other prejudices long enough to permit his emergence and survival as a leader in fact as well as in hope. To the extent that he can broaden the vision of those who view him too narrowly, he will enhance his own safety and ours.

I hope he will speak to us openly and often. I hope he will help us respond not too grudgingly to the reality that our total national indebtedness is not just a few trillion, but $53 trillion, as revealed by the Peterson Institute and known by distinguished Obama advisors who have validated that finding. A $700 billion bailout and a budget deficit in fiscal year 2008 of $455 billion are small pieces of the total picture. There is, unfortunately, no effort by the mainstream media or by government to present this astounding reality to the public, a reality that reflects rising and unsustainable health care costs and other unfunded liabilities that necessitate lowering our expectations regarding our “entitlements.”

We can’t yet absorb the full implications of our fiscal crisis. Still, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on our expectations with regard to health care, compared to our expectations regarding other aspects of quality of life. Most of us would agree that any citizen is entitled to at least a minimally acceptable standard of food, clothing and shelter. When it comes to health care however, we tend to think that everyone is entitled to the maximally effective options that exist. That way of thinking has already created unsustainable health care costs, and can no longer be justified. Health care will have to be rationed in ways other than it already is.

Despite the economic and other challenges that have thrived on national complacency, I am excited and hopeful. I hope that President Obama will nourish a new pride in us as Americans, not just because we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, but because the label means we have acquired a new understanding of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” that gives more weight to responsibility and restraint and tolerance. To be sure, I don’t want to give up my right to complain when things aren’t going as I think they should, as long as I have done my best to understand.

Spencer M. Wright is a Williston resident.

 

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Visions of Youth11/26/08

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Nov. 26, 2008

Defensive driving

By Kayla Purvis

Most school days I ride the bus twice — to school and back home. And almost every day my bus driver honks at at least one person who drives straight through her stop sign. The only way someone could miss a giant yellow vehicle with flashing lights is if he or she is not paying attention; and if you’re not paying attention, you shouldn’t be on the road.

I’ve been driving for about seven months with a learner’s permit, and I always make sure to pay attention to what’s happening on the road around me. I can’t imagine hitting anyone just because I received a call on my cell phone.

During my school years I’ve heard various reports about accident causes: cell phones, eating while driving, applying make-up while driving. If you’re driving, you should only be driving; not talking on the phone, texting or fiddling around with knobs and buttons. To be a safe driver you should have two hands on the wheel and your mind focused on the road and surrounding things. I think a lot of drivers have forgotten that.

If a phone call is important, pull over to take it. If your favorite song comes on the radio, turn it up a little, but don’t blast it. If you receive a text message, wait until you’re at a red light or your destination before you check it.

I got the idea to write about this topic this past week after observing the different things drivers do when they have to stop for the bus. Some drivers do exactly what they should do: slow down immediately and stop with a good-sized space in between their car and the bus. Others slow down and roll or crawl toward the bus, but never actually stop. And some people only stop after the driver has honked at them. Last time I checked, a red sign with eight sides and the word “Stop” written on it meant that a driver had to come to a complete stop.

Honestly, the bus won’t be stopped for more than 30 seconds — there’s no need to break the law just to save half a minute.

I have to cross Route 2A every day when I get off the bus. Now, I’m a big girl and I can cross the street all by myself. But I know that not all drivers are nearly as careful and aware as they should be, so crossing one of the busiest roads in Williston isn’t something I look forward to. I know that parents have written about this before, but I thought that it might make a bigger impact coming from an actual bus rider, someone on the other side of the stop sign.

Remember, all lanes of traffic have to stop for a school bus’ sign.

So turn down your music, ignore your cell phone, and just pay attention to the road. Come on, Williston. When you’re driving, just drive. It’ll help keep your students, citizens and fellow drivers safe.

Williston resident Kayla Purvis is a sophomore at Champlain Valley Union High School.

 

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Little Details11/26/08

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Nov. 26, 2008

Turkey and tips

By Katherine Bielawa Stamper

Thanksgiving is upon us.

Millions of Americans board planes, trains and automobiles to gather with family and friends. Aunts, uncles and cousins trade stories for simmering bowls of sweet potatoes and stuffing at holiday meals simple and grand. Young cousins play and tumble underfoot, offering up moist thumbs and runny noses to the “great germ exchange” in which viruses seamlessly cross state lines. Thanksgiving reminds us that, even in challenging economic times, we have much to be grateful for.

My own family’s holiday will be quiet. We’ll drive south to Hancock in Addison County for our annual hike around Texas Falls. We’ll clip a patch of fluorescent orange fabric to our clothes before hitting the trail, lest we be mistaken for deer among the trees and branches. It is hunting season, after all. The path might be slippery from snow or rain passing through a scant canopy of leaves. We’re drawn to this patch of land for the gushing water falling and flowing over rocks, filling the air with life-giving exhalations.

After the hike, we’ll spread our worn travel tablecloth on a picnic table at a shelter overlooking a stream. Sandwiches of thick Ciabatta stuffed with fresh mozzarella and summer pesto emerge from our backpack. A thermos offers up steaming cups of hot chocolate, adding warmth to our traditional Thanksgiving lunch.

Hours later, we’ll convene with friends for a collaborative holiday feast that’s veg-, carn-, and celiac-friendly. I’ll pass on the turkey and eagerly indulge in cranberry relish, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie crowned with dollops of homemade whipped cream.

When I was a small child, I felt jealous of friends who travelled “over the river and through the woods” to grandma’s house for Thanksgiving. My grandma lived across the ocean; she didn’t even celebrate Thanksgiving. My immigrant parents did their best, preparing turkey with all the fixings and letting us linger in our pajamas lazily to watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television.

By the time we were young teens, my sisters and I worked on Thanksgiving, serving up meals and bussing tables at the restaurant where our father moonlighted. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Frankly, I needed the money. I liked the waitresses and cooks with whom I worked. I only felt awkward when a classmate came in for holiday dinner with his or her family and there I stood in my black and white uniform waiting to fill their water glasses.

The owner of the restaurant treated staff to a holiday meal. We’d arrive at10:30 a.m. — no time to watch the parade — to prep the dining room for the onslaught. We’d sit down at 11:30 and eat quickly. Reservations started at noon.

Although the owner offered a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving to guests, he always served us prime rib. I remember greedily digging into thick, juicy slabs of beef cooked to perfection and Delmonico potatoes smothered in cheese.

The next several hours would be a blur as the hostess peppered me with requests: “I need a deuce at table 12; set up table 14 for seven; the bar needs more ice.” I made a game of working as fast as I could, clearing and setting tables. I placed a red linen napkin on my strong shoulder — the one I carried trays on — to keep from marring my white blouse with kitchen grease. My father was busy at the bar preparing Tangueray and tonics and Shirley Temples all afternoon.

By 6 o’clock the dining room was usually empty except for one or two parties that seemed to linger endlessly. The cooks would be gone, as would most of the waitresses. We learned from experience that customers who made us wait weren’t necessarily good tippers. As the person charged with cleaning and resetting their table, I too had to wait, as did my father, who was my ride home.

While waiting, I’d empty my pockets on the steel counter in the kitchen and count out the crumpled dollar bills — tips from the waitresses. I could make $60 or even $70. The waitresses were extra generous because it was a holiday, even if customers sometimes were not.

Tables cleaned and lights out in the dining room, we’d pile into dad’s car for the short ride home. I’d heat up leftover turkey in the microwave and help myself to a thick swath of my mother’s pumpkin pie for dinner.

Growing up in a restaurant family, I learned about teamwork and how to serve people with a smile even if I didn’t always feel like smiling. Folks I worked with on Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, Easter, Mother’s Day and Christmas Eve were generally there because they needed the money. So, if you’re out over the holidays and the service is good, tip often and tip well.

Katherine Bielawa Stamper lives in Williston. Reader comments are welcome at [email protected] or [email protected]

 

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