RSSAuthor Archive for Susan Leader

Vermont native and noted potter Susan Leader grew up on Popplewood Farm in Andover. At age 17, she was inspired to take up the potter's wheel by "a charismatic potter" from the Society of Vermont Craftsman. She spent 18 months apprenticing at pottery villages throughout Japan. She returned to Popplewood Farm, where she and her husband, fiddle player John Specker, raised their two daughters.

Left in Andover: Tackling adversity and bridging differences

Left in Andover: Tackling adversity and bridging differences

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC Teaching is my job,” wrote Scott Nearing from Forest Farm, his remote Winhall homestead, in 1944. “I have been sure of that ever since I gave my first sociology courses at Temple University, Philadelphia, back in 1903. Teaching has three essential aspects: 1) to arouse interest,  2) to […]

Left in Andover: A step back to go forward in women's health care

Left in Andover: A step back to go forward in women’s health care

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC Brattleboro Hospital was the place to deliver when I had my two babies in the mid-1980s. It had been early to adopt woman-centric policies, offering my women friends and me wide latitude in our birth plans. But Springfield was a shorter drive from my home in Andover. I […]

Left in Andover: Home in the hills of Vermont

Left in Andover: Home in the hills of Vermont

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC Due to the pandemic, scores of non-resident property owners have worked remotely from area ski and vacation homes. Many will choose to remain as full-time residents. And even more will continue to find their way here as air travel becomes increasingly problematic. I believe future leaders of our […]

Left in Andover: The gift in the rituals of death

Left in Andover: The gift in the rituals of death

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC Four women, members of the local chevra kadisha burial society, arrive to perform the ancient rite of tahara, or washing the body of the deceased, upon my mother. As I cross the dimly lit funeral home lobby on my way out to grab a soy latte, they reach […]

Left in Andover: Waters in the heart

Left in Andover: Waters in the heart

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC A hundred feet into the woods off my front porch is a shallow well hand dug in the 1950s by a hermit who lived in the cabin which is now my pottery studio. We dubbed it Hammy’s Well after our daughter’s hamster met its demise there many years […]

Left in Andover: Vegetarians in meat-filled world

Left in Andover: Vegetarians in meat-filled world

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC As a hyper-sensitive vegetarian child in the 1950s I avoided close-up contact with the chickens my family kept for eggs. Obscured underneath their pretty feathers, my X-ray vision detected dead poultry as displayed at the supermarket. My little brother, on the other hand, enjoyed picking them up and […]

Left in Andover: Between Chester and home

Left in Andover: Between Chester and home

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC As a child in the 1950s, I developed my home town identity attending Peaseville School in Andover. The other kids and families who lived scattered among the surrounding hills were my world. Their names, faces and home places are forever etched in my brain like points on a […]

Left in Andover: From the pages of Northampton

Left in Andover: From the pages of Northampton

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC My early morning marches along the dike overlooking the Connecticut River floodplain were a mortification for me on the coldest winter days. Not because I had to walk, but because the exertion caused my face to turn beet red. The unforgiving gauntlet of female eyes at morning assembly […]

Left in Andover: Recovering lost family history

Left in Andover: Recovering lost family history

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC Most of what I collect at thrift shops and recycling centers is strictly utilitarian. But last year while helping my daughter recycle in Winhall, I snapped up an ornate cast iron picture frame. My husband has two similar frames displaying portraits of his crusty German forbears. My heart […]

Left in Andover: The comforts of comfrey

Left in Andover: The comforts of comfrey

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC My family knows better than to get up hope when I decide to bake cookies.  By the time I grate a few carrots, grind up some oats and skip the dairy, gluten, fat and sweetener, the finished result is more likely to resemble a veggie burger than dessert. […]

Left in Andover: Finding home in Vermont

Left in Andover: Finding home in Vermont

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC Despite my third generation status as a “native” I have no nostalgia for the traditional Vermont in which I grew up. My outsider Jewish, vegetarian, socialist family’s connection was to the land rather than the local culture. Paradoxically, it took Vermont’s early 1970s “Hippie Invasion” and an influx […]

Left in Andover: Fairies among marsh marigolds

Left in Andover: Fairies among marsh marigolds

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC Despite Covid-19, yesterday I paid a visit to some very old friends of mine, cheery yellow marsh marigolds who flourish by an obscure culvert along Weston-Andover Road. My older sister introduced me to them many years ago. She first made their acquaintance on her daily walks to and […]

Left in Andover: All around the mulberry tree

Left in Andover: All around the mulberry tree

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC The night before I started 8th grade at Hawley Junior High in Northampton, Mass., my family camped out on the back of our farm truck parked out in a surrounding hill town. We had driven down from Andover earlier that Labor Day afternoon, the truck loaded with mattresses, […]

Left in Andover: Aunt Vivian finally finds a place at Popplewood Farm

Left in Andover: Aunt Vivian finally finds a place at Popplewood Farm

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC My idealistic grandparents helped buy our farm in Andover under the delusion that my aunt Vivian, Mom’s kid sister by 12 years, would be able to build her own little cottage on the property. This never came to pass, but Vivian did come to visit several times a […]

Left in Andover: Adventures in Bennington

Left in Andover: Adventures in Bennington

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC Going on the town to visit my aunts’ was the big outing for me as a child. Every couple of months, Dad piled us kids onto the back of his farm truck and away we sailed down the mountains to the flatlands — of Bennington. What our first […]

Left in Andover: Myron's sweet smell of success

Left in Andover: Myron’s sweet smell of success

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC The trucks and modest sedans I grew up with in Andover were practical transportation, symbolizing not much more than the fact that we didn’t have to walk. For this reason, the two Cadillacs — one pink and one black — that punctuated my early childhood loomed large. Dad’s […]

Left in Andover: The short, dynamic life of Frieda

Left in Andover: The short, dynamic life of Frieda

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC In 1907, my darkly handsome grandfather Isaac sought shelter from conscription officers of the czar’s army at the home of an acquaintance in the shtetl of Zelva, Poland. He emerged from hiding shortly thereafter, dowry and eldest daughter of the household in hand, destination: America. The enterprising Frieda […]

Left in Andover: Walden ideal of enough as plenty

Left in Andover: Walden ideal of enough as plenty

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC Each of my siblings was named after a special hero of my dad. These included Rosa Luxembourg, the Polish socialist, the brothers Gracchi, who were agrarian land reformers of ancient Rome, and the Irish patriot Robert Emmett. I was the exception to this rule. My parents’ lame excuse […]

Left in Andover: In tune with my musical side

Left in Andover: In tune with my musical side

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC As both the wife and mother of accomplished musicians, I am often asked if I play an instrument. My response is always a vigorous no. This is not, however, strictly accurate. I actually participated in grade school and junior high band as a flautist. But I never progressed […]

Left in Andover: The other side of Terrible Mtn.

Left in Andover: The other side of Terrible Mtn.

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC I was born and still live at the sunny southern foot of Terrible Mountain. At 2,900 feet altitude, our mountain is neither exceptionally tall, nor harsh, ranking  No. 214 in the state. The accepted explanation for its ominous name is the obstacle it presented to through-traffic between Andover […]