Meandering about the frozen landscape of Edith Chase’s Topsmead on the strangely thawing, mist-enveloped, first Thursday afternoon in early February—ice-encrusted blades of grass crunching beneath my boots, the disturbing chaos of the ice-burdened pine boughs torn from their trees and randomly arrayed around the feet of their former tree trunks—I couldn’t help but be grateful for the professionals and the volunteers who have helped to maintain this property, frozen in time, so that generations after Edith can enjoy its serenity. On that note, we have a Valentine heart thank you to honor recent staff turnover and Valentine heart welcomes for some new folks.
We would like to honor Jani Golding who, for the past twenty years, has been the DEEP Senior Environmental Maintainer for the historic house, its gardens and its fields. The Friends of Topsmead have been fortunate indeed to have Jani as a partner, ably complemented over the years by Gene Patchinski in the gardens, and as an advocate for Topsmead at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). Jani has just retired, and we will mightily miss the energy and enthusiasm with which she kept Topsmead well groomed and environmentally healthy in all seasons. Heartfelt Valentine thanks, Jani! (Just a heads up: the DEEP is working on hiring two new maintainers, one full time and one part-time, to fill Jani’s boots.)
A hearty Valentine welcome to Jared Rice, new Topsmead Unit Park Supervisor, who will be filling former supervisor Jack Hine’s boots. Jared brings a wealth of experience, and we are looking forward to working with him. He started working for DEEP in 1997 at Black Rock State Park in Thomaston as a seasonal maintainer and then worked full time for about ten years with Support Services for the Western District Park Manager. In 2015 he returned to Parks as the Supervisor of the Lake Waramaug Unit. As I look at today’s pine bough chaos wrecked upon the landscape by the combination of ice and wind, I can’t help thinking that there will be a mighty clean-up job demanding his attention. Thank you in advance, Jared!
Finally, a Valentine heart welcome encore to former FTSF board member Bob Orintas whom the Friends of Topsmead has appointed to be its first official Advising Historian. In this position, Bob will be a resource to FTSF in all things related to Topsmead history. He will continue his research into life at Topsmead, the operation of Topsmead Farm, and the Chase home at 33 Church Street in Waterbury. He is currently working on a book titled Things No Longer at Topsmead and plans to present a copy to FTSF upon its completion. We are hoping we can convince Bob to autograph that copy when the time comes!
Please know that the fickle weather challenges of the February season won’t interfere with our sending out love-filled Valentine hearts to Jani and Jared and Bob for their contributions to Topsmead yesterday, today, and tomorrow.