Wednesday, May 9, 2007

NPL Volunteer Spotlight: Connie Cadow

If you're new to town and want to meet interesting people, meet (or become!) a library volunteer. I am continually amazed by the talents and experiences of NPL volunteers.

It's a warm day, but cool air greets us as I follow Connie Cadow down into her basement. After months of talking about gardening and plants, I've asked to see Connie's greenhouse set-up, since I can't quite imagine it. A greenhouse in the basement?

There, among boxes marked Family Pictures and other treasures of time, are Connie's secret for getting the jump on spring: rows of grow-lights, trays of young marigolds, snapdragons, ageratum, and petunias are glowing; tiny basil seedlings are just pushing through. On a table next to the lights is a notebook, with meticulous records on planting dates and germination rates. One day the seedlings were under several suspended lights; the next day, when I returned to take pictures, she'd moved them over to where her husband had set up a hydroponic operation. She's since converted it to more growing space. "Hydroponics have never excited me as much," she explains.

We wandered back upstairs to Connie's quilting set-up: a handsome sewing machine and long counters for spreading out her projects. She's been part of a group meeting at Bugbee Senior Center in White River Junction for the last four years, her projects growing with her expertise. "I gave my grandson a big box of cloth squares last year," she said as she held up the handsome quilt that they were in the process of becoming.

Connie also enjoys a standing date with son Ken, also a Norwich resident, for Western square dancing. They head up to Bradford every week. "It's becoming a lost art," she lamented. "We have just enough people for three full squares."

Most of all, Connie's greatest interest is her family. Pictures of children and grandchildren are everywhere, and she often scoots home from the library in time to welcome them into her home. Last year she and granddaughter Charlotte Cadow teamed up to staff the circulation desk.

Gardener, craftswoman, library volunteer, family woman: Connie Cadow is a special part of Norwich.