June 22, 2018

A cut above the competition

Sola Salons offers 18 haircutting businesses under one roof

Oct. 20, 2011

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

Clockwise (from top left): C.J. Hale, owner of CJ’s Barber Shop, is the only barber among the 18 haircutters in the Sola Salons complex; Kristi Blacklock, owner of Shear Bliss, joined Sola Salons in November 2009 after a 16-year career at Reflections Salon & Spa in Shelburne; LaLaneya O’Farrell, owner of Hair by LaLaneya, is one of the newest additions at Sola Salons in Williston, which is part of a national franchise headquartered in Colorado. (Observer photo by Luke Baynes)

If variety is the spice of life, then Sola Salons is the cayenne pepper of the hair salon industry.

With 18 distinct haircutting businesses in a 3,300-square-foot building, Sola Salons offers no shortage of options for a trim, or cut and color.

“This is not a traditional salon,” said Phil Tonks, owner of the Williston Sola Salons building, located on Vermont 2A near Taft Corners. “Each one of the stylists that’s in the facility owns and operates their own business. They keep all the revenue both from doing hair and selling products and they get to pick and sell whatever products they want.”

Founded in Colorado in 2003, Sola Salon Studios is a national chain that allows hairstylists to be their own bosses without the overhead of owning a building or the hassle of managing employees. Each of the stylists in the Williston location pays a flat rental fee, which includes heat, hot water and a personal workspace with its own locking gate.

“An awful lot of the industry has to pay a percentage of what their take is, and in some cases it’s pretty high,” said Tonks, who also owns and operates Grand View Winery in East Calais. “(Here) the stylists have complete independence. They can focus all of their attention on the client.”

LaLaneya O’Farrell, a graduate of the Vermont College of Cosmetology, spent eight years at Orbit Hair Design in South Burlington before a postcard from Tonks convinced her to branch out on her own.

“I just love this whole concept,” O’Farrell said. “I’m my own boss and it’s really all I need. I’m not looking to have employees. I just want a place for my current clients, and I still have room to grow, so it’s perfect.”

There are 16 rooms in Tonks’ building. Four of the workspaces are occupied by two stylists, meaning there are currently two open spaces for interested coiffeurs.

Kristi Blacklock, who joined Sola a month after it opened in October 2009, said the privacy her current set-up affords was the primary reason she started her business.

“Where I was before there were 19 of us altogether and there was no privacy,” Blacklock said. “Here clients love the one-on-one. Some of my clientele are in their 50s and 60s. They don’t have to worry about men walking in when their hair is in foils or when it’s wet.”

Blacklock added that the chance to work in Williston was another key consideration in her move.

“Being right off the Interstate is awesome,” she said. “People are in Williston for so many other things, so they can add on a haircut to all their other errands.”

Perhaps the most unique among the 18 proprietors in the Sola facility is C.J. Hale. Not only is he the only barber in the complex; he’s the only barber in Williston. A self-professed “jack of all trades and master of none,” Hale is a throwback to the days when a shave and a haircut actually cost two bits. After several stints in the military and a series of outdoor labor jobs, he settled on barbering in 1994.

“I grew up on a dairy farm and we used to cut the cow’s hair,” Hale said. “(Barbering) is the same thing — just a different sized head.”

Although the other stylists don’t offer any competition to Hale, who specializes in “military haircuts” and “businessmen’s short haircuts,” he isn’t averse to making an occasional referral.

“I’ve had some guys (come to me) who like to wear the long hair,” Hale said. “I just say, ‘I’m sorry, if you still want to keep it long, I suggest you go to a salon.’”

Follow the leaders: Subatomic Digital’s Matt Strauss and Bob DiVenuti

Oct. 20, 2011

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

Subatomic Digital, a digital media company located in Williston’s Blair Park, designed and manufactured their sign (above). The company has produced over 10,000 DVD titles and offers services for the digital- and print-on-demand markets. The New York Times is one of its clients. (Observer photo by Luke Baynes)

It’s called Subatomic Digital, but its capabilities and variety of services are far from minuscule.

Founded in 2006 by Vermont natives Bob DiVenuti and Matt Strauss, the Williston-based Subatomic Digital, Inc. is a digital media company that has produced more than 10,000 DVD titles, including the NBC hit “30 Rock,” The History Channel’s “Ice Road Truckers” and countless PBS programs.

But Subatomic’s product offerings go far beyond the DVD and Blu-ray market. Its video-on-demand services provide streaming video to such on-demand providers as iTunes and Netflix, while its digital graphics customers include IBM and Ben & Jerry’s.

Subatomic can also count The New York Times among its clients. With every page of The Times going back to 1851 electronically stored on its servers, Subatomic is the exclusive provider of “The Ultimate Birthday Book,” which includes the front page of every birthday in a recipient’s life.

DiVenuti and Strauss recently sat down with the Observer for a round table discussion in which they talked about Subatomic’s past, present and future.


Williston Observer: Why did you choose Williston for your headquarters?

Bob DiVenuti: When we started the business, we were in Essex over in Fort Ethan Allen. As our business grew, we needed more space and we needed a more modern facility.

Matt Strauss: One thing we really liked about (Williston) was the proximity to FedEx, because we do a lot of shipping. And (Williston) is kind of a commercial hub in general, so I think it was really lucky that we were able to end up here. Coming to Williston has given us the latitude we need to go to the next level.

WO: What are your respective backgrounds?

Strauss: My background is a combination of different things. I’ve done a lot of graphics production, but also computers. I’ve actually built a lot of my own machines, so the background for me is technology and creative (projects).

DiVenuti: My background is television production. Then I got into television management, and when the DVD media came out, Matt and I really started working closely together — myself on the producing side, and Matt on the graphic design and technical side. We decided to start our own business almost six years ago.

WO: How has the digital media industry changed in those six years? How have you adapted?

DiVenuti: When we first started, standard-def DVD production was our bread and butter. We had a small print-on-demand business that has grown by leaps and bounds. On the DVD side of the business, we’ve ventured into the Blu-ray market, but now with download-to-own being so popular we take a lot of the content that we produce for DVD and digitize it and send it through the Internet directly to iTunes or Netflix.

WO: Do you think that video-on-demand services will ultimately supplant DVDs and Blu-rays as the primary form of home entertainment?

Strauss: The transition from VHS to DVD was very easy in that you still had a product that you could hold in your hand. I think there will always be a certain group that will always want something to hold, but I don’t know how many.

DiVenuti: Five years ago I thought standard-def DVD would have been dead by now, and honestly, our business doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. There are still stores that need that product on the shelves.

WO: What is the revenue breakdown between your business segments?

DiVenuti: When we started the business, it was about 70 percent DVD production and about 30 percent print-on-demand. Now I would say it’s about 40 percent DVD production, 20 percent digital media and 40 percent print-on-demand.

WO: Do you work with any Vermont filmmakers?

Strauss: We don’t do traditional post-production — people don’t come here to edit their films — but (Vermont filmmakers) do come here when their film is finished and they want to put it out there in the world. Or if they need something extra put in there, we’ve done title sequences and other graphical elements.

WO: How did your partnership with The New York Times develop?

Strauss: (The Times) approached me a long time ago — I think 2002 or 2003 — and they were just getting started with their print-on-demand operation. They asked about doing some poster-type work and I took it on. It was a very small amount of work, so other businesses weren’t interested because it just wasn’t big enough. We’ve always tried to provide the best customer service and product we can, so that allowed the (relationship) to grow into a pretty significant chunk of our business.

WO: Jigsaw puzzles are certainly the most incongruous among your lineup of products. Why did you start making puzzles?

Strauss: We’ve been doing jigsaw puzzles (for The Times) for about four years. They had a vendor overseas who was not very responsive and they asked if we could do it, so we figured out how to do it. We look for areas where the client has a need or could use improvement in, so we’re building a portfolio of capabilities that we can offer to all kinds of potential clients someday.

Canine control

Selectboard adopts changes to dog control ordinance

Oct. 20, 2011

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

The Williston Selectboard approved changes to the town’s dog control ordinance in regards to dog waste disposal. Courtesy dog litterbags are available at various spots in town, including the Williston Bike Path (above). (Observer photo by Luke Baynes)

Summer may be over, but Monday was a dog day at the Williston Selectboard meeting.

Following a hearing in which public comments were heard on proposed amendments to the town’s dog control ordinance, the Selectboard adopted three substantive changes to the ordinance — all concerning the issue of dog waste.

As part of the amendments, dog owners will be required to have some form of bag or waste scooping device in their possession when walking their dog. They will also be responsible for removing their pets’ waste from public property and private property — other than their own — and will be required to properly dispose of such waste.

The previous version of the ordinance made no reference to dog waste.

A fourth change that was considered by the Selectboard but ultimately not included in the amendments would have required dog owners to promptly scoop dog waste from their property.

“I still like the idea of asking people to pick up (dog waste) on their own property,” Selectboard member Debbie Ingram said.

Ingram cited the potential for waste on private property to pollute public lands or waters due to stormwater runoff, and suggested that the additional amendment would be a beneficial tool for the town in “the extreme, worst-case scenario.”

Selectboard member Jeff Fehrs disagreed, raising the question of whether it would be wise for the town to impose an ordinance that would affect private property rights.

“I’m very hesitant to delve into an ordinance that requires a property owner to do something on their own property,” Fehrs said. “I just have a conceptual issue with that. I’m nowhere near ready to cross that private property boundary, at least at this point.”

Williston resident Shelley Palmer told the Observer on Tuesday that a distinction should be made in the ordinance regarding what constitutes public property and that an exception should be carved out for places not frequented by people, such as wooded areas. Palmer also objected to the abandoned proposal regarding private property.

“I don’t think that the town (should have) any peculiar ability to tell people what to do on their own private property,” Palmer said. “The question is: Are we increasing the quality of life or are we just going into regulatory insanity?”

Margie Jacobs, a Williston resident who attended the public hearing, asked how the new additions to the dog control ordinance will be enforced.

“Most of our ordinances are ultimately enforced by the police department,” replied Rick McGuire, town manager. “In order for them to enforce it, they would have to receive reports of a chronic offender and they would have to have some sort of evidence tying the person to the dog or would have to witness it themselves. One thing the police department can do is if they’re aware of a chronic offender, they can speak to the owner and, quite often, that might be enough.”

Other articles of the dog control ordinance that remain unchanged include the requirement of a tagged dog collar and the prohibition of unleashed dogs running at large. The civil penalty for a first offense ordinance violation is $50.


Oct. 20, 2011



Victorine Dorothy Way, 84, Passed away peacefully on Friday, Oct. 14, 2011 at the Northwest Medical Center in St. Albans. Victorine was born July 18, 1927 in Wetherbee N.Y., the daughter of the late George and Margaret Savage Gonyea. Sixty-seven years ago on October 14, 1944, she married George R. Way in St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in South Hero. She is survived by her husband George of Milton and their children; Mary Way of Williston, Diane Bushey and her husband, Roger of Williston, Nancy Way of Milton and Caroline Lemons and her husband, Robert of Milton. Her grandchildren; George S. Way and his wife, Lisa, Jennifer Howard and her husband, Timothy, Michelle Howard and her husband, David and Ashley Bushey and several nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her son; George T. Way and his wife, Kathy. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011 at 10 a.m. in Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church on Main Street in Colchester with Fr. Peter O’Leary celebrant. Burial followed in the Vermont Veterans Cemetery in Randolph. There were no visiting hours. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Kidney Foundation, 6110 Executive Boulevard, Suite 1010, Rockville, Md. 20852-9813 or the American Heart Association, Vt. Affiliate, 434 Hurricane Lane, Williston, Vt. 05495. Online condolences may be made at http://www.minorfh.com.



Baby Boy, Son, Student, Scholar, Sailor, Husband, Teacher, Business Leader, Friend and Father, Grandfather, Patriarch to us all: Dale Richard Dawson of Williston passed away quickly and peacefully in his sleep, early Tuesday morning, Oct. 11, 2011. After suffering a serious decline in health, Dale is now free to rest forevermore. Dale just celebrated his 83rd birthday on Sept. 29, 2011. He was born in St. Johnsbury in 1928 to his parents, Rufus and Alfreda Dawson, late of Lyndonville. Dale leaves behind his wife, Betty (Elizabeth Lyman) Dawson of Williston; his son, Tyler and wife, Madeleine, and his daughter, Beth and husband Larry Dubin, all of Williston; grandchildren, Cory Dale Dawson and Jacob Leland Dawson, Timothy Jon Clarke and Erika Elizabeth Dubin, all of Williston; his brother, Rufus and wife, Jackie of Lyndonville; along with nieces, Andrea and Susan, and nephew, Hank; brothers-in-law, Howard Lyman and Bud Lyman and families; several nieces and nephews, and many grandnieces and nephews. Dale’s formative years were spent in Sutton and then Lyndonville. Early tragedies in his life — a home fire and the death of his father — helped define his personality, creating a man with a tireless work ethic and a dedication to family that knew no bounds. Very early employment during his school years included stints in a men’s clothing store, a movie theater, and summer work caring for the cemetery. Early success came on the athletic field for his beloved Lyndon Institute, including captain of the football team. Dale also served as his class treasurer, and graduated from Lyndon Institute in 1947. Wherever he traveled after that, he carried with him a lifelong love of his school and his classmates. College studies and many more hours of hard work lead to graduation from the University of Vermont in 1951. Then, the quiet man from the mountains of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom joined the Coast Guard and ended up one third of the way around the world on a small tropical island in the Western Pacific Ocean. Dale served on Guam at the Coast Guard’s LORAN station, helping ships navigate the ocean channels. In 1955, when his service ended, the sailor in his dress white’s came back home to Vermont, and married the love of his life, Betty Lyman, of Hinesburg. They celebrated 56 years this past June 30, 2011. Early married life started in Middlebury with a teaching job. This was soon followed by a move to South Burlington and jobs in the business world. Then in the early 1960s Dale joined the Lyman family company, Iroquois Manufacturing, in Hinesburg. Dale’s work ethic and family dedication shined, and the Iroquois’ years were marked with many successes, along with many tests of the human spirit. In the early 1990s Dale turned over Iroquois to the Lyman family heirs and split off the smaller Vermont Ware subsidiary to start a new chapter. Vermont Ware went on to great success in a joint venture with Country Home Products. He retired from Vermont Ware in 2008. Prior to retirement he also served several years on the board of Trustees at Lyndon Institute. Dale’s love of the water never left him. In the middle 1960s, he and Betty bought a camp on Lake Iroquois, where so many summers were spent building precious family memories. In the early 80s they turned the camp into a beautiful year-round post and beam home. Then in the 90s the bigger water called and they moved back to South Burlington on Bartlett’s Bay overlooking Lake Champlain. As the family continued to grow and grandkids arrived, the latest chapter appeared in 2003 with the construction of a wonderful family camp on the shores of South Hero. Dale was able to spend his final summer there surrounded by his whole clan. What is a dale? A dale is a peaceful valley, with softly sloping hills and lush green fields. No jagged rock formations, no wild rivers. Our Dale is a gentle soul now gliding softly through this valley of rest and peace and autumn leaves. The essence of a person is in the family and the friends he keeps, the connections he creates, the moments shared. Dale lived a long and fruitful life, and touched many, many lives. But to really know Dale was to see his impish smile as he pulled your leg with his dry sense of humor. The raised eyebrows, the twinkle in his eye, if you saw this in his presence, you knew you were one of his true friends. So don’t be sad for him or his family. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Dale’s memory to the Lyndon Institute Library Fund, c/o Headmaster, LI Institute, P.O. Box 135, Lyndon Center, Vt. 05850, or to the Williston EMT Squad of the Williston Fire Department, Williston Vt. 05495. Gifford Funeral Home of Richmond is assisting the family. You may send messages to Beth Dubin on Facebook.


Letters to the Editor

Oct. 20, 2011


Thank You, Observer

It is always a pleasure to deal with the staff at the Observer. They do a great job bringing community news to all of us in our mailboxes and are kind to their writers. I am indebted to them for all their help over the years. The paper and its changes have improved for their readers. I think each editor has left his or her mark in a positive way.

Sometimes I have not made myself clear in my writings, and how I think others will read and understand what I have written.

As a result, I am sending this explanation of last week’s guest column (Observer, “Saving mama’s school,” Oct. 13, 2011). George Isham and Sylvia Wellinger Isham were my husband’s parents, who both had a connection to the town of St. George. Their children and spouses, and even many of their grandchildren, called them, “Mama and Papa.” The article sounded like they were my parents. Also, the two Ishams (Joshua and Jehiel) who came from Connecticut and settled St. George were cousins and also were distant cousins of David’s dad, George.

Ginger Isham, Williston

Guest column

Become a ‘budget buddy’

Oct. 20, 2011

By Giovanna Boggero


Have you ever asked yourself: What does the school budget include? How does the budgeting process work? Who is responsible for putting the budget together? Who is responsible for reviewing and approving the budget?

If the answer to any of these questions is, “yes,” then I encourage you to keep reading.

Every year, the Williston School Board invites members of the community to join them as “Budget Buddies.” Having been one previously, I thought I’d share my experiences.

When I was asked to be a “Budget Buddy” in October 2010, I had mixed feelings. First, I thought that the task would require a significant time commitment and, second, I thought that the process itself would be rather complicated, cumbersome and confusing. Well, I figured the best way to find out was by participating and — to my surprise — I was wrong about all of my concerns. It obviously did require me to invest some time, but it was quite manageable and as for the process, I found it to be rather well organized and easy to follow.

What I gained from the experience was invaluable. I had the opportunity to get a close look at everything that is required to be put in place to financially support the schools. More importantly, I was able to really appreciate how challenging it is to strike the right balance between what is required for the best possible education for our children with a fiscally responsible budget in these very tight economic times. It is truly quite a balancing act.

So now that the school budget process is about to begin anew, I wholeheartedly encourage you to reach out to any of the School Board members or the school administration team to join us in this important and valuable process. After all, everybody will reap the benefits of a strong and well-educated community.

Are you unable to join us as a Budget Buddy but still interested in your views being heard? Please come join us for a budget community forum on Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. in the WCS dining room. This is the perfect place to share your thoughts. You will have the opportunity to communicate to the School Board and the schools’ administration team what you prefer the school to continue to offer, to introduce or change.

We hope to hear from you.


Giovanna Boggero is a member of the Williston School Board.

Recipe corner

Fall apple recipes

Oct, 20, 2011

By Ginger Isham


I have yet to make an apple pie, which is usually my first apple dish of the season — I then typically make apple crisp, all with Macs because they are my family’s favorite. This year the following will be my first apple recipe:



—from a Yankee Magazine’s “New England Church Supper” cookbook

2 cups whole wheat flour or white or mixture of both

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ginger

Pinch of salt

2 large beaten eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup oil

3 medium tart apples, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup raisins and/or chopped walnuts or pecans

Combine dry ingredients. Blend all other ingredients and add to dry ingredients. Mix just until all are blended but do not beat. Pour into an 8-by-4-inch greased loaf pan. Sprinkle top with coarse raw sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. You might add a brown sugar glaze or a thin penuche icing. Can bake in small loaf pans for gifts. Freezes well.



—from a 1990s “Eating Well” magazine

1 cup regular oatmeal

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup white flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon lemon zest

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

3 tablespoons oil

1/4 cup apple juice concentrate

3 medium tart apples, peeled and sliced thin

1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Mix oatmeal, flours, sugar, zest, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Work in the oil and apple juice with fork until coarse crumbs. Press 2 cups of mixture in bottom of 9-inch square baking dish. Arrange apple slices in rows on top. Mix nuts with remaining oatmeal mix and sprinkle over apples and pat down.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.


Ginger Isham lives with her husband on a fifth generation family farm on Oak Hill Road.


Life in Williston

Hunting season is here

Oct. 20, 2011

By Neel Tanden


Seeing as I had never shot a firearm or considered hunting until last week, I should probably start by dispelling a couple of stereotypes: Vermont hunters are not necessarily uneducated, gun-toting miscreants who, if they could, would shoot at anything that moves.

I only say “necessarily” because a life-long hunter recently told me (regretfully, I might add), “Yeah, they’re out there, but it’s like with anything, you get the whole spectrum and it’s unfortunate.”

In case you haven’t caught site of a tarp covering a deer carcass in the back of a pick-up or men (I haven’t seen any women yet) in camouflage moving about town, hunting season is here. For many, it is a much-anticipated time of year — one combining both sport and tradition.

Hunting has always shared an intimate relationship with man and the land that he inhabits. The territory between Lake Champlain and the Connecticut River — the area that now contains Vermont — was no exception when hunter gatherers migrated here thousands of years ago. This land hosted a number of native peoples who came to utilize the rich soil, the fish, the animals and other natural resources. With the appearance of Europeans on the scene (Samuel de Champlain’s 1609 expedition down Lake Champlain being one of the more notable), hunting became much more than merely subsistence. Trading posts were quickly set up on the Lake and the fur trade quickly exploded in popularity, at the heart of a consumer rave on the European continent. The desire for fur-felt hats, robes and other luxury clothing fueled the establishment of an enormous industry that spread far and wide in North America.

The people and the wars came and went but, regardless of the political climate, hunting stayed with those in Vermont — and it remains today.

Although in essence the sport remains the same, the laws involved in hunting are now more extensive. The calendar alone delineating which game is in season is busy enough. For examples; the black bear season ends on Nov. 16; the moose season ends Oct. 20; the turkey season continues until Nov. 6, depending on if you’re using a bow and arrow or a shotgun; and the deer season continues until Dec. 11, depending on if you’re using a bow, a muzzle-loader or a rifle.

And it doesn’t end there. There is also a fur season — hunting and trapping — that goes until late December in which you can hunt for a number of different animals, some more surprising than others. This includes animals that you commonly associate with road-kill, including raccoons, skunks, weasels and opossums. There is even a season for what is considered small game like squirrels, crows, woodcocks and rabbits.

It’s funny to think that in a land in which fast food chains flourish and supermarkets are stocked with frozen foods, that someone is frying up some tenderloin or cooking a roast off of an animal they shot two days ago in a nearby woods.

Is hunting a symbol of independence and self-reliance? Is it simply tradition and culture? Is it a way to enjoy and conserve our environment?

Perhaps, it’s a combination. Perhaps, you disagree. Maybe you think it’s an unnecessary barbarism. Maybe you think it provokes violence. Maybe you think it will fade with time.

But whatever it is, it’s in season.


Neel Tanden is a lifelong Williston resident who graduated from the University of Vermont in 2010.

Little Details

Running in circles

Oct. 20, 2011

By Katherine Bielawa Stamper



It’s 5 a.m. My alarm pierces early morning darkness. I silence the auditory intruder, not wanting to wake my husband.

To run, or not to run? That is my question. Bargaining with the clock, I resolve to rest five minutes more — I lay in bed for ten. My mind scrolls through the upcoming day as I anticipate my commute, meetings at the office, dinner and prepping for the course I teach. Free time and the laundry nudge for attention.

Emerging from my slumberous state, I extract myself from bed to survey the blackness outside my window. Running clothes, laid out the night before, wait expectantly. I slip into gear, tuck my driver’s license into my right sneaker — identification is a good thing — and grab a flashlight.

I stretch still-sleepy limbs before slipping out the front door. My jaunt takes me along Old Stage, Mountain View and North Williston roads before hanging a right onto Williston’s Recreation Path to circle home. Forty-five minutes later I’m fully awake. I skim the ever-thinner Burlington newspaper and jump in the shower to face my day.

Running is my exercise, my addiction and my meditation. Running is my penance for the ginger cookies I munch while tapping on my keyboard amid endless cups of English Breakfast Tea. Running is my portable gym — I take sneakers on vacations, jogging past castles and along rivers flowing with foreign names; Vistula, Thames or Taff. Running affords time and space for reflection as my sneakered feet follow a somewhat rhythmic beat.

I am not one of those sleek-muscled marathoners who glide like graceful gazelles. My pace is slow; my style lacks athletic chic. Pumping middle-aged musculature is about seeking balance — physical and emotional. I run most mornings, caving only to inclement weather and the occasional bout of pure, unabashed laziness.

Serious running friends compete in marathons, half-marathons and 10ks.  Competition provides motivation to train harder, faster and better. I run because I like to. My sole competitor is myself. Just finishing is an achievement.

I have a rain rule. If it’s already raining, I forgo a run. If rain is threatening, I take a chance. I have an ice rule, too. Snow is fine; ice is to be avoided.

Early morning runs are the best. Sparse human activity promotes relative anonymity. That said, early bird exercisers are generally a friendly bunch. We greet each other as we pass, mere apparitions in semi-darkness.

Wildlife sightings add a nice twist. Rabbits crisscross my path. Moist mornings require navigating around squishy worms, slugs and the occasional snail I might overlook with an unintended crunch!

This time of year, my path is lighted by moonlight or a constellation of bright, shiny stars, piercing the black-blanketed sky. Sometimes a branch rustles behind me. Adrenaline rises and dissipates as I reassure myself, “It’s only the wind.”

Running feels safe. I’ve had one official “run-in” since starting my regimen two years ago — with a skunk. The black and white rodent emerged from the tall grass and stood in my path. I swerved around, ran a few feet, and turned to notice it running after me. I growled instinctively and bared my teeth. It growled back and ran into the grass. It’s good to know I’ve a good growl when I need it. Happy running!


Katherine Bielawa Stamper lives in Williston. Reader comments are welcome at Editor@willistonobserver.com or LittleDetailsCol@yahoo.com

PHOTOS: Scholastic book fair at WCS

Observer photos by Kayla Walters (www.kaylaphoto.weebly.com)

Williston Central School’s ‘Scholastic Book Fair’ was held between Oct. 17 and 19, and raised money for Williston schools.