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: A long Thanksgiving walk

Left in Andover: A long Thanksgiving walk

By Susan Leader ©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC The Sunday before Thanksgiving, 1975, my dad and I set out for an adventure hitchhiking from Andover to Bennington, then onwards to Albany, N.Y., to visit Cousin Frances who had invited us to stay at her house overnight. The weather was mild for that time of year, and […]

Left in Andover: Martha's life of faith and family

Left in Andover: Martha’s life of faith and family

By Susan Leader ©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC Eight-year-old Martha Hennessy learned of the assassination of JFK standing in line at Perkinsville Elementary School. Fifty-seven years later, the Vermont native and grandmother of eight recalls: “That same year, 1963, we were still having duck-and-cover air raid drills because of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the perceived […]

Left in Andover: Taking the wheel, and a ticket home

Left in Andover: Taking the wheel, and a ticket home

By Susan Leader ©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC Although Dana-san, the boss, had given me  permission to work on the potters wheel, no one actually “taught” me. One learned by doing, in this land where questions as such were just not asked. I was assigned my own wooden kick wheel, the concrete base of which was […]

Left in Andover: The push to learn in Japan

Left in Andover: The push to learn in Japan

By Susan Leader ©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC The downside of securing an apprenticeship at the Ogami Pottery was that I could no longer freely visit the other workshops in Tachikui village without feeling like a traitor. Wherever I wandered, workers quizzed me as to how the Ogamis did things: What tools and techniques did they […]

Left in Andover: Transformation in Japan

Left in Andover: Transformation in Japan

By Susan Leader ©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC In 1979 I resettled permanently on our family land in Andover with my life partner-to-be, fiddle player John Specker, my long held dream of establishing a family run pottery upmost in mind. John had recently come to southern Vermont from Ithaca, N.Y., where his bowing, singing and rhythmic […]

Left in Andover:  Discovering pottery in Japan

Left in Andover: Discovering pottery in Japan

By Susan Leader ©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC When I started college at Antioch in Yellow Springs, Ohio, in the summer of 1969, it was an era when all the rules were being broken. I was desperate to create my own young adult identity. But it was disorienting to go from a very structured high school […]

Left in Andover: Finding the Promised Land

Left in Andover: Finding the Promised Land

By Susan Leader ©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC In 1942, at the age of 21, my mother was determined to escape her urban New York life. “The superficial, merry-go-round life of the city is hateful to me,” she wrote. “I want to get away from it and remain close to the soil. You are holding a […]

Left in Andover: Following the golden thread

Left in Andover: Following the golden thread

By Susan Leader © 2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC A sermon by the distinguished guest preacher the Rev. Roland T. Heacock, presented at Simonsville Church in the summer of 1966, was instructive as to how to live a righteous life. The imagery was striking in his “Golden Thread” sermon: “I am giving you a thread, a […]

Left in Andover: Keeping up with Anne Mausolff

Left in Andover: Keeping up with Anne Mausolff

By Susan Leader 2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC While visiting Middletown Cemetery in Andover this summer, I met a man paying his respects to his dad and son, whose ashes he had scattered guerrilla-style between two boulders where were no gravestones. Both had loved roaming nearby Markham Mountain to hunt, though neither had ever lived in […]

Left in Andover: Warp, weft and spinning a life

Left in Andover: Warp, weft and spinning a life

By Susan Leader ©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC In the late 1960s and 1970s, when I viewed “dropping out” as a viable career option, I wrestled with what version of the Age of Aquarius would be right for me. I toyed with creating my own clothes, the goal being to make myself independent of the exploitation […]

Left in Andover: An oasis in our food deserts

Left in Andover: An oasis in our food deserts

By Susan Leader ©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC My father Herbert Leader (1917-1988), self-described “Bennington boy,”  recollected driving out to the surrounding countryside as a small child with his father: “Pappa used to take the horse and wagon around the countryside, a rabbi from Slonim looking out for his flock. Sometimes he’d take me along and […]

Left in Andover: Apple picking plants seeds for lifetime of growth

Left in Andover: Apple picking plants seeds for lifetime of growth

By Susan Leader ©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC In 1978 my mother, Miriam Leader, wrote, “I search the reddened cheeks of a Northern Spy, my daughter’s cheeks rosy as she picked it … I am becoming greedy of those times.” I have no desire to reprise my time as a professional, seasonal orchard worker throughout my […]

Left in Andover: The Coolidge connection

Left in Andover: The Coolidge connection

By Susan Leader ©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC As a young child I used to hike up Weston Road with my mother to Middletown Cemetery, where we enjoyed trying to figure out the stories behind the gravestone inscriptions. What triple misfortune befell the Chandler family, summers end, 1839? Even the ministrations of Dr. Charles Chandler, husband […]

Left in Andover: A bit of Hetty Green in Weston

Left in Andover: A bit of Hetty Green in Weston

By Susan Leader ©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC In 1966, I inherited my older sister’s job as a housekeeper at the newly rebuilt Weston Playhouse, designed by architect and esteemed native son Ray Austin. What I most dreaded was cleaning the toilets. Luckily for me, all the bathroom fixtures in the upstairs actors’ quarters were still […]

Left in Andover: Finding our place in France

Left in Andover: Finding our place in France

By Susan Leader ©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC Late August 1963, stranded in Helsinki, my family and I explored the city, subsisting on hearty black bread, figs and sour yogurt from an open air market. A family living near the Olympic Stadium rented us the dining room of their mansion, outfitted with five beds. An overly […]

Left in Andover: Starting at the Finnish line

Left in Andover: Starting at the Finnish line

By Susan Leader ©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC Free-standing saunas, some in excellent condition, others rotted into the ground, still punctuate the hills of Andover. It was not possible to grow up here without being aware of its Finnish heritage. “Yksi, kaksi, kolme … one, two, three” and “Paha tytto, paha poika … bad girl, bad […]

Left in Andover: A job stopped on a dime

Left in Andover: A job stopped on a dime

By Susan Leader ©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC In 1957 and 1958, I attended school up in Burlington for part of each school year. My dad had scored a job as an assistant librarian at the University of Vermont in late 1957, shortly after he recovered from his operation for a brain tumor. This was the […]

Left in Andover: Getting in touch with the earth

Left in Andover: Getting in touch with the earth

By Susan Leader ©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC For me, summer on Popplewood Farm in 1958 meant forced labor. I detested the endless hoeing of weeds in my family’s large vegetable garden. There were, however, several limited compensations. When no one was watching, I dallied, catching grasshoppers to feed my kitty, who lolled in the grass, […]

Left in Andover: Bewitching water in the 1980s

Left in Andover: Bewitching water in the 1980s

By Susan Leader ©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC Hard by the original cellar hole on the West Place – as our deed identifies the southern section of my family’s Popplewood Farm – is where my husband John Specker and I decided to build a “real” house, in 1988. We had dithered through the decade living in […]

Left in Andover: Big house, little house, book barn

Left in Andover: Big house, little house, book barn

By Susan Leader ©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC Until I came across Thomas C. Hubka’s transformational book Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn, I assumed that the purpose of our Popplewood Farm “little house,” as we called the honey room, and breezeway was just to make it easy to get to the barn in the […]