Questions of the season

By Inge Schaefer

The cooler temperatures of last week were a stark reminder that summer is drawing to a close and is what prompted my dog walking buddy Ellen Zdyb to suggest for this column that I answer the question, “Is summer over – already?”

Of course, fall does not officially begin until Sept. 23, so we shouldn’t panic just yet. There are, however, lots of ominous signs that summer is headed south and “sweater weather,” as another dog walking friend Sarah Hoerr calls it, is just around the corner.

There is, for instance, the occasional red or gold leaf to be found on the lawn or road, the grass is not growing as fast, the sedum are about to bloom, it’s getting darker earlier, temperatures can dip from one day to the next, the Bayside Park free concerts are over, there are big, bright full moons to take your breath away, and the tourists are thinning out. Gratefully, still around are the beautiful flowers planted throughout the town by the Colchester Conservation Committee; the delicious fresh veggies available at our local farm stands, and enough warm, breezy days for a good sail or to generate a sweat when riding a bike, running, playing tennis or pickleball. Yes, pickleball – the fastest growing new sport in America and alive and well in Colchester. In another column, I’ll talk about this craze that sees up to 20 — mostly gray-haired folks — on the town’s tennis courts several days of the week throughout the summer.

Another sure sign of late summer is the abundance of zucchini in gardens around town. After you have roasted, boiled, sauteed and baked them, and there is still a bunch in your garden or refrig, try this great recipe – Zucchini appetizers. It comes from the old Brigante’s Farmstand on Malletts Bay Avenue, and I’m not sure whether it was Lorraine’s recipe, or sisters-in-law Velma or Marge, but one of them gave it to me more than 15 years ago when she saw the frantic “help me” look in my eyes as I reached for yet another zucchini. It’s easy, different, and soooo good.

Here’s the recipe: 3c thinly sliced unpared zucchini (about 4 small), 1 c Bisquick; 1/2c finely chopped onion, ½ c Parmesan cheese, 2 Tbsp. Parsley, ½ tsp. Salt, 4 eggs (slightly beaten) ½ tsp. Marjoram or oregano leaves, dash of pepper, 1 glove garlic (finely chopped), and a 1/2c vegetable oil. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13 x 9” pan. Mix all ingredients; spread in pan. Bake until golden brown – about 35-45 minutes. Cut into pieces. YUM!

Kudos and congrats to the Colchester/Milton Rotary Club. With Leora Black as their 2013 President, they were named Club of the Year in their District (of 42 clubs from Quebec, Northern Vermont and New Hampshire). Were that not enough, the club also received five other awards, one of them recognizing their “signature” project, which is the Colchester Holiday Basket program. With local support from such groups as the Malletts Bay Fire Department and the Boy Scouts, they offer holiday cheer in the form of food, books and much more. In 2013, they served 151 families or about 613 people and spent $6,000 on this project alone, but were still able to support other community needs, such as Meals on Wheels, Therapy Dogs of Vermont, food shelves, Winter Carnivals and July Fourth parades handing out American flags in both towns, Boy Scouts, community band and chorus, and the National Guard Foundation. They also donate to Winooski, Milton and Colchester schools for literacy projects and scholarships and for international causes.

It’s a good group of local folks who meet weekly for lunch at noon at the Hampton Inn; you are invited to join them any Thursday. A lovely buffet lunch is provided, folks socialize and hear from an invited speaker, who generally is worth the listen. Make no mistake, Rotarians work hard to raise the money they donate (upwards of $27,000 a year), but they have a good time doing it, so give consideration to joining this lively and worthwhile organization. Call Bill Thompson at 878-4739 or Erica Marks, 893-0258, for more information. Their 2014 President is Suzanne Brown.

Did you have a chance to look through the first “Life Program” brochure, co-sponsored by the Rec and Parks Department and the School District? It offfers a wide variety of classes ranging from yoga, to carving wooden spoons, to technology tips (there are three of these classes and I could use every one) to preventing water pollution, dance lessons, quilting and more. I think the only one I didn’t think about taking was the SAT Bootcamp and maybe R.I.P.P.E.D that stands for Resistance, Intervals, Plyometrics, Power, Endurance, Diet. Some of those I don’t understand, and some of them sound entirely too healthy! I have had as instructors Pat Marmillion who will be teaching the “Yoga for Life” class, Samir & Eleni Elabd offering the Adult Formal Dance class, and Joe Ryan who does “Writing Stories from your Life,” and know them to be knowledgeable and professionals in their fields. I’ve not had a class with Dr. Susan Deppe, but know her to be a dedicated community volunteer with lots of energy and passion around what she does, so I suspect her class “Understanding Emotion: Creating Healthy Relationships,” will be dynamite.

The hard part is knowing what to sign up for, so if, by chance, you tossed your brochure, call Parks and Rec at 264-5640 to register, or for more info. The Life Advisory Board who put this all together includes Schools Superintendent Larry Waters, CHS Principal Amy Minor, Town Manager Dawn Francis, Librarian Kelly Tomaseski, LIFE Co-Founders Lisa Lagerquist and Thomas Bacon, and its coordinator Susan Fielden, and Parks and Rec folks Glen Cuttitta, Director, Derek Mitchell, Assistant Director, and Rec Board Member Dick Pecor. Pretty impressive. “See you on the campi,” as the saying goes – or in this case at Colchester High School this fall.

Am I the only one who remembers Darryl Strawberry of the 1980s New York Mets? The outfielder helped them win the 1986 World Series, and with his slugging at bats helped carry the New York Yankees to World Series wins in 1996, ’98 and ’99. Because of substance abuse, he fell on hard times but has since established two foundations – one to help kids with autism, and a second, the Darryl Strawberry Recovery Center for athletes struggling with substance abuse. Anyway, he will be at the Echo Center on Sept. 20, from 11-2 p.m., in support of the Vermont Association for Mental Health and Addiction Recovery – donations will be accepted. No Colchester connection really except I love Darryl Strawberry (and the Mets – yes, I know they stink, but there’s hope) and am grateful to hear he is still in recovery.

So, in answer to the question, is summer over – already? No, it’s not, so get out there and enjoy. Send me your news – God bless!