Compost Happens

I suppose you think that when all the students go home for the summer, the much-adored compost shed by the Persons parking lot becomes the neglected province of scavenging squirrels, crows and coyotes. Well, the scavenging squirrels are right on the mark, and I even saw a woodchuck in there finding out “how much mac’n'cheese can a woodchuck chuck?” But what you are totally missing is that there is also a boatload of lovely, fresh, even musically gifted garbage to keep the compost cooking all summer. I mean, the Marlboro Music School and Festival is in full swing, at least as far as the compost pile is concerned. It turns out that world-class cellists, flautists, violists and even bassoonists enjoy the earthy delights of composting their food waste just as much as college students do.

I absolutely know this because I spent yesterday afternoon turning the festering pile of pastoral over with Marlboro junior Caitlyn Charles, who is working for the festival this summer and helped mastermind the summer compost program. Festival staff and participants are on a rotation to bring their polyphonous plate-scrapings down to the compost shed quicker than you can say klangfarbenmelodie, if you can say klangfarbenmelodie. Really, when I think about it my mind reels: how do these outstanding chamber musicians from around the world view composting their leftovers? Giving Bach to the land, perhaps? Scraping the Rimsky-Korsakovs their plates? Making rich garden soil from their discarded Berliotz-meal and orange Schubert and Mozartichoke hearts and pickled Beethovens? I mean, where have these musical composters been Haydn, all these years?

 

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The Original Town Meeting

I hope when I get to be 250 years old, I look as good as the Town of Marlboro. That’s right folks, this year the town is celebrating its “sestercentenial,” literally having something to do with Latin for “half-three,” which makes no sense to me and reminds me why most of our math comes from the Greeks. Anyway, that term is probably preferable to “bicenquinguagenary,” which I know sounds like a tongue-twister I just made up—but I really didn’t, I swear. There are all kinds of exciting activities happening in town this year to commemorate the town charter granted in 1761, at least exciting enough for a town of less than 1,000 easily-excited souls who don’t watch much television.

It all started with the community supper that took place last week at the Marlboro Meeting House, which is what they call the white-steepled church at the center of town. There were salads and quiches and pasta and enough deviled eggs to sink a ship full of angel food cake. Several students, staff and faculty members from the college were there, and I can vouch that they were all well fed. Sophomore Eric Dennis, son of Sophie Dennis ’90, made out like a bandit in the door prizes, but only because he traded tickets with sophomore Michael Schneeweis, son of electronic music professor Charlie Schneeweis and American studies professor Kathryn Ratcliff.

Ironically, and you know how I love irony, the Marlboro Meeting House is not where the town folk hold their “town meeting,” which takes place in the Town House nearby every March. To make things even more confusing, and you know how I like confusing things, they built the Town House out of timbers from the very first Marlboro Meeting House built here in 1778, after a windstorm blew the roof off in 1819. One of the very first Marlboro town meetings was held at Jonas Whitney’s house, now the Whetstone Inn. The first town clerk was William Mather, part of the very same Mather family that once owned the property Marlboro College now occupies. I don’t know about you, but that just gives the college tradition of Town Meeting a couple more centuries of gravity.

The festivities continued on July 2 with the first annual Marlboro “parade,” which was indeed exciting for the five minutes that it took to pass by on the way from the firehouse to the historical society. You know, kids on bikes, old cars, tractors, it was all just as adorable a chipmunk with its cheeks full of seeds, and then it was gone. Everyone was eager to get to the end, where Whetstone Inn owner Jean Boardman was making her world-famous homemade ice cream. The grand finale of all this excitement will be at this year’s Marlboro Community Fair in September, where perhaps they will combine the nail pounding contest and the skillet toss into a dramatic re-enactment of the battle of Bennington. Okay, so it’s not television but it keeps us busy up here on the hill.

 

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