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: 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 […]

Left in Andover: Post WWII's seagoing cowboys and the milk of kindness

Left in Andover: Post WWII’s seagoing cowboys and the milk of kindness

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC One of the very first relief operations undertaken by the fledging United Nations, from its inception in 1945 through 1947, was to send several hundred boatloads of cows and horses to resupply war ravaged eastern Europe with livestock. This was a cooperative initiative with the Brethren Service Committee […]

Left in Andover: A short history of hitting the road

Left in Andover: A short history of hitting the road

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC The only thing I really miss about my hitchhiking days in the late ‘60s and ‘70s was the space it offered to interact constantly with people of all different walks of life. Swapping stories face to face with the people who stopped to give me rides established a […]

Left in Andover: The end of single-party politics

Left in Andover: The end of single-party politics

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC Dad’s enormous wooden roll-top desk filled the northwest quadrant of the den at Popplewood Farm. He rescued it one winter in the late 1950s from the former Verd Mont Mills Co. factory in Ludlow. To get it into the house, we had to drag it on an old […]

Left in Andover: Hope in the Book of Job

Left in Andover: Hope in the Book of Job

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC In the biblical Book of Job, Satan bets that Job, the archetypal “billionaire” of his time, will not remain true to God in the face of misfortune. God gives Satan permission to visit any tribulation except death upon Job, to test him. Against all odds, in the face […]

Left in Andover: The carrot and the bun

Left in Andover: The carrot and the bun

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC March 2012, a historically warm month, I floor my gas pedal to climb the steep mountain road. High atop Finn Hill in Andover, my daughter, who is in her early 20s, has set up housekeeping in a rented apartment. I am on assignment, delivering a first batch of […]

Left in Andover: Living simply in Gandhi's shadow

Left in Andover: Living simply in Gandhi’s shadow

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC While Dad had always managed to stash a certain amount of “junk” in the breezeway, in the tractor sheds and in our hayloft, when we got rid of our farm animals there was no holding him back from filling up the whole barn. As a by-product of our […]

Left in Andover: Tragic end to search for home

Left in Andover: Tragic end to search for home

By Susan Leader ©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC Dad loved reciting his story about hawking apples in Springfield in 1950. After personally picking them each morning, he knocked door to door at Southview Housing District, reasoning that housewives stuck at home with young kids and no transportation would be likely buyers. Sales, even at his very […]