Congratulations to Paula Castner and Julia Dixon, the winners of the current Champlain Area Trails (CATS) writing contest. Paula Castner won the $500 grand prize with her essay “The Experiment,” in which she asks and answers the question, can “an asthmatic, allergy-riddled, comfort-loving, people-seeking, city-bred gal not just survive but genuinely enjoy spending summers in a bug-owned circa 1930s home in Lewis, NY, population 1,200?” The answer is a resounding yes, which is interesting in itself, but getting there is half the fun. The piece is warm, funny, and full of insights into the many attractions of the Champlain Valley.
And high school freshman Julia Dixon really bowled me over with her delightful essay “A Coon Mountain Hike,” which garnered an overwhelming 148 votes online. Each year she comes to visit her grandparents in Westport from her family home in Lake Forest, Illinois. She loves family time, she loves the lake, she loves the pizza at Dogwood Bread Company in Wadhams (which was also mentioned in “The Experiment,” by the way), but her deepest affections, I thought, are reserved for the woods. My favorite part of this startlingly rich and mature essay was the secret fallen tree. I won’t say more—you can go read both of these outstanding essays at the CATS web site, champlainareatrails.com, if you haven’t done so already.
Maybe you’ve heard that dance instructor John Danyew has been offering Thursday night lessons at the Westport Heritage House in November and December. In January, he’ll start West Coast Swing lessons from 7 to 8 p.m. with a free half hour of open dance afterward. For more information or to sign up, call him at (802) 897-7500 or visit his web site at champlainvalleydance.com. Or you can just come on January 3 for the first class.
Who are Maurya Teale, Cynthia Schira, Kathy Kelley, Sheri Amsel, Linda Smyth, Elena Borstein, Dee Carroll, Vel Capewell, Carol Laughlin, Caroline Thompson, Stephanie Ames, Caroline Vanderhoof, Kathryn Cramer, Elizabeth Hartwell, and Meredith Johnston? They are WOW—the local women artists featured at the Depot Theatre’s Women of Westport art exhibition, which is currently on view (and on sale) in the lobby weekdays from 1 to 3 p.m.