By Jane Ross, August 2017.
No gala benefit has ever been more aptly named than the August 26 celebration hosted by the Redding Land Trust at historic Warrup’s Farm under a flawless sunset sky. In commemoration of the Town’s 250th anniversary, some 120 revelers sipped seventeenth-century libations and feasted on authentic fare from colonial days under tents with tables set with the china and silverware typical of that long-ago era.
Festivities began at the Well – a bar serving grog, switchel and shrub – at the rear of the Hill family’s magnificent 1830’s home on land carved from Redding founder John Read’s original 1,000 acre farm first owned by Chicken Warrups and where the Land Trust now holds a conservation easement. Cider and spruce ale, rather than the Well’s rum and gin based drinks, were poured at a nearby stand where guests relished trout, duck and cheese, all garnished to old-time perfection.
By Jane Ross, August 2017.
The sun breaking through the misty late afternoon sky was a perfect omen for the glowing accolades to come for beloved community leader Mary Anne Guitar at her memorial gathering on August 12 at Lonetown Meadow. Family members, dear friends and those who had known and thrived under her special gifts of strength, vision and companionship took to the podium one by one to recount the important influence she had on their lives.
Nick Zittell opened the tributes as he talked of spending each Christmas with Mary Anne, one of the Smith alumna pals of his mother who with other Smith alums “adopted” him and his twin brother on the untimely death of his mother in childbirth. Guitar’s Connecticut cousin Mary Guitar, who spent much time with Mary Anne and was of great comfort to her in recent years, recounted highlights of her life which had its roots in Missouri before college and a stint as an editor and writer in New York City and then becoming for many years a legendary part of Redding, Carrick Blair, Mary Anne’s longtime gardener, spoke of her passion for trees and flowers and plants of every kind, especially her heirloom tomatoes.
A public gathering to celebrate the life of Mary Anne Guitar will be held on Saturday, Aug.12, at 4:30 p.m. at the Redding Historical Society, 43 Lonetown Road, near the Community Garden, organized by Mary Anne’s “Connecticut cousin,” Mary Guitar. Mary Anne served the residents of Redding in an official capacity for over a quarter of a century, but her love for Redding, and Reddingites, goes back some sixty years: through her work with the Town Hall, New Pond Farm, the League of Women Voters, the Land Trust, the Old Redding Road neighborhood and the Democratic Town Committee.
Parking will be at the Historical Society meadow. Seniors and those with mobility concerns can be dropped off directly at the tent, with parking nearby. Police will be on site to direct traffic. The large tent (with hundreds of chairs) will be between the historic house and barn (the Rock‘n Roots/Fireworks space). Those without transportation can request pick up/drop off service by the Senior Center van. Please call Gordon Loery (203.938.4774) by Friday morning to add your name to this list.
After the program, everyone is invited to be together for the champagne toast, and light refreshments. Friends are invited to share their anecdotes about and memories of Mary Anne. In the barn will be ‘memory boards’ ‒ gleanings from Mary Anne’s many boxes of memorabilia, along with a lovely profusion of flowers from her garden and land trust open spaces. The last of four videos that she helped produce, “A Love Letter to Redding” will be projected in the barn.
The site of this memorial gathering is significant: just east of the Community Garden where Mary Anne grew her prized tomatoes, just north of the first open space parcel acquired by the Town (Lonetown Marsh, aka Murphy’s Swamp) and just south of Warrup’s Farm where she and Sam Hill and Stuart Chase cooked up the notion of saving Redding as a clean and green oasis in a rapidly developing Fairfield County. It is the very heart of her Redding.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in her name can be sent to the Mary Anne Guitar Education Fund (checks made out to the Redding Land Trust with Mary Anne Guitar Education Fund in memo line) or to one of the boards she sat on and held dear: the League of Women Voters, New Pond Farm, The Redding Land Trust and the Mark Twain Library.
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Update- A Night to Remember is SOLD OUT. Please call or text Mary Ann Carman 203-312-4545 or Laurie Heiss 203-940-6644 if you have questions.
By Laurie Heiss and Jane Ross, June 2017.
On Saturday July 1st at 9:30 am, you have a perfect chance to learn about one of Redding’s natural historical treasures – its varied and beautiful butterflies. The Redding Land Trust is co-sponsoring an outdoor discussion and meadow walk with butterfly expert Victor DeMasi and his loyal team of experienced butterfly “spotters” in the area of the Crossfield Meadow at the bottom of Cross Highway. To keep meadows like Crossfield open for butterflies, dragonflies and bird populations, the RLT pays for annual mowing of all the meadows it owns so that the public may enjoy these unique plant and animal habitats.
Every July, for well over 20 years, Vic and his team join other butterfly spotters all over the country for the National Butterfly Count. Now you can walk, watch and learn as butterflies are identified and counted, and you, as a spotter-in-training, can refer to an identification guide provided by the RLT. Victor as a master caller/observer also provides an identity for the “hard ones.”
Before the two forays into the meadows on both sides of Cross Highway and while you are enjoying coffee, juice and breakfast goodies, Vic and his team will talk about the diverse butterfly population in Redding and put it in the context of national populations, butterfly migration issues and habitat loss. In Redding we are fortunate to have healthy butterfly habitats and dedicated butterfly observers.
One meadow has paths so that visitors can observe the butterflies and spotters without walking through the 4-5 foot tall meadows. The other meadow, Crossfield, has no paths so long sleeves, long pants and closed shoes are a must. Please park and meet at 105 and 107 Cross Highway. At 11:15 the team is off to record butterflies at four other Redding sites.
For more information, please email Redding Land Trust at firstname.lastname@example.org
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