“So, how long have you been a member of the Berne Sunday Book Club?” asked the interviewer to the reluctant interviewee.

“Oh, as long as I can remember. Well, maybe for a year or three possibly? Let me think. You see, I never really actually joined the book club specifically. I mean I do have a library card and all. Like for over 50 years.

“I just feel more comfortable reading rather than voicing my opinion on what I think the meaning is behind the words threading through the pages of each book. Or what the characters motives are. But, I do like to follow what book the club is reading each month. So, you might say I’m part of the club, in a hiding-behind-the-big-potted-plant-in-the-corner kind of way. Yeah, that about sums it up.”

The Berne Sunday Book Club meets and shares on April 11 at 7 p.m. On the discussion table, “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman. Honeyman’s 2017 debut novel, set in Glasgow, is a winner of the Costa first novel prize. Maybe you’ll want to get to know Eleanor yourself? Along with vodka, pizza, and her unlikely friendship with the computer nerd, Raymond. 

New readers are always welcome to the group. Next up, for May, is Susan Meissner’s 2018 novel “As Bright As Heaven,” with the Spanish flu traipsing in the background.

Spring fling

Since we’re talking about traipsing, what do you like about spring? Is it the chance to fly a kite, start your garden, enjoy outdoor activities? Well, the library can help you with all three.

On April 11 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Berne Town Park, come on down for an outdoor activity and be part of Fly-A-Kite Day. It’s family-friendly fun and you are welcome to loft your kite into the mix.

Along with kite-flying, remember the seed library is open and ready for picking. Order seeds online from the library’s website or pop in and sift through the wide selection on hand.

Where words

and ideas grow

As far as sifting goes, the Journeys on the Page writing group sifts and shares virtually on the second Tuesday of the month. Sifting their thoughts, getting them to the page, and striving to include writing practice in their daily routines.

Every Friday night, a nudge goes out to the group. Low pressure, friendly support. Journeys on the Page, where words and ideas grow. Hey writers, welcome to the mingle on Tuesday, April 13, at 7 p.m. via GoToMeeting.

Remembering Ramona

The library remembers popular children’s writer, Beverly Cleary, who passed away March 25, 2021 at the age of 104 years old. Cleary’s first book, “Henry Huggins,” published in 1950, introduced Ramona Quimby. Ramona blossomed into eight more stories and a movie, “Ramona and Beezus,” released in 2010.

When asked why she started writing children’s books, Cleary’s reasons were simple. “While working as a librarian, children were always asking for books about ‘kids like us.’ There weren’t any so I sat down to write and found myself writing about the sort of children I grew up with.”

Thank you to Beverly Cleary for filling shelves in libraries and homes with over 39 stories as well as two memoirs.

At 63 years old, National Library Week, sponsored by the American Library Association, is a celebration the Berne Public Library welcomes with a rousing cheer. This year’s theme, “Welcome to Your Library,” extends from April 4 through April 10. April 6 salutes library workers all across the land and on tApril 10, the library raises a toast to the community in thanks for your support. 

Smiles and Wins


 Haha. Hahaha. Hah!

Jokes come fast and furious

Songs bellow from the crowd

Clouds float on the mountain

Peeking sunshine shining down

Shadows linger in the trees

Cardinals flit along the breeze

Fill your baskets to the brim

Make and Takes

Add weekly wins.

Coming up this week are kite make-and-take kits. Keep reading to discover the special community event planned for family and friends using a special key ingredient. 

Quirky quokkas

Before getting to the key ingredient, another carousel of fun for the library in April is National Poetry Month launched by the Academy of American poets in 1996.  Hearing of the silver anniversary, the Word of the Month Club members knew they had to join the party.

Working on some poems between Scrabble games, reading and planning their monthly mind-wandering events, the members are going all in for poetry quokka palooza. Why quokka palooza? Because the quokka, hailing from Australia, has been dubbed the “world’s happiest animal.” 

Roxanne pulled everyone’s attention forward with a solid rap to the gong. Flashing quokka selfies paraded across the screen and then paused, as Charlotte stepped up to reveal April’s theme.

“Glasses up and a round of applause for quirky. Go quirky in your writings, add quirky trips to your day, create quirky dishes in your own special way.”

As the group smiled all around with a loud “Here’s to being quirky in April,” you could almost hear their quirky sizzling thoughts bubbling to the surface. 

Friends make plans

Other bubbling thoughts of interest are coming from the Friends group, who are meeting virtually April 7 at 7 p.m. Anyone wishing to participate may email for a link to the meeting.

Plans on the shelf  include a book sale near the new library shed in June. In July, a Bowls for Books event is building, with ice cream topping the day. Interested in helping out? Get the link and find out how.

Trustees meet

Following on the heels of the Friends meeting, the library trustees are on the calendar for April 8 at 6:30 p.m. Agreeable weather means gathering outside near the library.

Let’s go fly a kite!

The Berne Sunday Book Club is flipping its discussion group to Sunday, April 11, at 7 p.m. “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman is on the reading table. Grab the book, read along.  

Earlier in the day, on April 11 between 2 and 4 p.m., add the Berne Public Library’s Kite-Flying Experience to your calendar. Plan to pick up the key kite kit ingredient at the library during National Library Week between April 3 and the 10. Let’s go fly a kite!

— Photo from Kathy Stempel

The Berne Library honors the memory and contributions of architect Nancy Lendrum with books and blocks donated in her name. She died last year at the age of 66.

Finding Time For a Rhyme”


Library Books showing 811 on their spines 

Leads you to Poems

In books

From the stacks. 

There’s the one that shows a cast of creatures

Like Eagles, Roos, and Beaver features.

It’s title states in several words:

“Have You Ever Wished You Were Something Else?” 

The author earning his Ph.D 

Wrote 60 books of prose and verse.

His name you ask? It’s Richard Armour

And trying to rhyme here is getting worse.

Inside their pages in the stacks

Poetry fills from front to back

In Francesco Marciuliano’s

“I Could Pee on This and Other Poems by Cats” 

You’ll find some smiles but won’t find bats. 

Come inside 

Meet the 811’s

Find your poems

And then, relax.

This past Sunday, March 21, was World Poetry Day. Did you celebrate with song and verse? That’s OK if you didn’t. 

Coming up in April is National Poetry Month and you can celebrate all month long. Do you have a special celebratory poem you’d like to share on the library’s gratitude wall? Go for it. 


Nancy Lendrum

In sync with the gratitude wall, the library celebrates and remembers a special lady. Nancy Lendrum took on a Berne Library Trustee role in 2011. Nancy came on board during a time when the library needed to expand its base of operations.

She received several awards during her life for her volunteering as well as part of her professional architect life. In 2013, she was awarded Library Trustee of the Year from the Upper Hudson Library System.

The award salutes Nancy as “one of the driving forces behind the collaboration between the Library and the Town, to purchase, plan and renovate a decommissioned Catholic Church …” and turn it into the Berne Library’s new headquarters. 

Nancy, using her expertise in building and design, helped transform the old church building into the library space you can visit today. After her death, at age 66, on Sept. 30, 2020, memorial contributions flooded into the library. Many came from her Berne-Knox Central School’s graduating classmates of 1972.

The generous donations purchased several books on architecture and a Keva building block set to honor her memory. Plus, at least two memorial plates to be installed.

One of the books, “Cool Architecture” by Simon Armstrong, is 111 pages “Filled with Fantastic Facts for Kids of All Ages.” You’ll read about many well known architectural wonders like the Empire State Building, India’s Taj Mahal, and the Ancient Roman Colosseum.

The Colosseum included 80 exits in its design to ensure quick departure of spectators after gladiator events. Built over 2,000 years ago, it remains a prominent tourist attraction. 

New York’s Chrysler building, built between 1928 and 1930, held the title of Tallest Building for about a year, at 1,046 feet tall. That is, until the Empire State Building opened in 1931 at 1,250 feet. 

Then there are flashes of structures still being worked on, but not complete, after many years. Like the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. Construction started in 1883. Estimated time of completion: 2026. 

Do you know what a squinch or a ziggurat is? You can find out in the “Cool Architecture” glossary wrap up. 

Remembering and honoring Nancy Lendrum’s footprint in the community and in the library.

Director’s note

Recently, the library added 50 new junior nonfiction books to the collection. Be the first one to check out a few new books.

Anyone can sign up for Minecraft Monday. The Java edition team meets virtually every Monday at 6:30 p.m. Call the library at 518-872-1246 for more information.

You want to try an experiment? You don’t need to order any special gadgets or file into the ground floor of the mega gym to secure your six-foot distancing square. You don’t need an iPad, smartphone, laptop, tablet, state-of-the-art step tracker or internet access of any kind.

All that's required is you and that amazing three-pound wonder you carry around with you everywhere you go. It’s housed above your shoulders inside your skull and contains lots of water, a good amount of fat and billions of — what are they called again? Oh, that’s right. Billions of neurons.

Give it a go as you step away from the daily bustle of “should do”s, “wish you’d done”s, and “really gotta run”s. Settle back, take a few refreshing breaths, and experiment with a daily dose of mind-wandering.

That’s right, take a minute or take five to test out the mind-wandering waters. You may be pleasantly surprised where a positive flow of mind-wandering can take you. 

After all, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, and Friedrich Nietzsche were all known to be one with the mind-wandering practice and they had some interesting journeys. One key ingredient to bring with you, your smile.

Gratitude Wall

After your mind wandering session, maybe you’ll dive back into your device. While there, log onto www.bernepubliclibrary.org and check out the Gratitude Wall. A place to add a happy note or two.

Stop in frequently to watch the wall grow. If you are more a pen-and-paper kind of person, drop the library a written note that can be added to the living wall of sparkles. Send your note to: Berne Public Library, Post Office Box 209, Berne, New York 12023.


Here’s a sparkle for you — the library is now open for short in-house browsing, Monday to Friday from 2 to 7 p.m and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Other sparkles include fine-free March for all Berne library items, virtual story time on Facebook live every Friday at 3 p.m. with Miss Kathy, weekly take-and-make kits, and the seed library is ready to help grow your gardens. Wander in and find your sparkles.

With sweaty palms, the brow of frustration, and the endearing words, “Mom, I’m on speaker phone” heard loud and clear from the Remote Technical Assistance Team, “TEDx-BernePublicLibrary — Life on the Hill,” hit airwaves the last Saturday in February.

After a few technological glitches, facilitator Kathy Stempel’s calm and determined demeanor reigned supreme and the deed was done. For the virtual audience, the pre-recorded sessions, interspersed with a bit of live talk and a smattering of music, trailed visitors through seven unique offerings. 

If you missed the live feed, and have internet capabilities, you can drop in for a look-see from the library’s website. Go to www.bernepubliclibrary.org and click on the “read more” icon under  “TEDxBernePublicLibrary – Link to the event.” This will spin you over to the link.

A big thank-you goes out to all the speakers and behind-the-scenes crew of this new dip into uncharted TEDx waters — Erik, Emily, Brian, Nathan, Donna and Mary. And to Becky Waldenmaier for the live intros and friendly banter along the way.

Photo contest

Another dive into uncharted territory surfaced with the library’s virtual photo contest. After being judged by two professional photographers, winners were selected in the 6th Annual Berne Library Photo Exhibit.

What’s equally exciting is the work of master craftsman Jim Burghart, who copied all the photos onto weatherproof aluminum plates so the photos can be displayed in the Berne Town Park’s StoryWalk trail for your viewing pleasure.

For the rest of March, you can pop over to see the photos in Berne’s Town Park. In April, the display will move to the Knox Town Park. Photos may also be viewed at bernelibraryfriends.org.

From a stunning 23 entries, here’s your  rundown of winners:

— “Partridge Run Pond” by Ann Perry: People’s Choice, Adult Division;

— “Fresh Produce” by Johanna Luhrman: People’s Choice, Junior Division;

— “Pantheon Oculus” by Sarah Raymond: Best of Show, Adult Division; and

— “Love Shines Bright” by Myla Evans: Best of Show, Junior Division.

There you have it. Now, go ahead and be sure to take yourself on a date to the park and enjoy this unique outdoor photo experience.

Congratulations to the Friends for successfully orchestrating this first-ever virtual event. 

March marvels

After all this successful virtualness, you may find the urge to do a little celebrating yourself. For instance you could check into stringing a banner for March’s National Celery, Reading, Nutrition, Kidney or Irish American Heritage Month. 

Or, your creative genius might whip up a poster or two to highlight National Pi day on 3.14, Absolutely Incredible Kid day on the 18th, World Poetry Day on the 21st, or Tolkien Reading day landing on the 25th.

Then, you might just want to jump for joy and utilize March’s fine-free month on all Berne library items. Plus, there is the return of limited in-library browsing back in service. It’s your day to celebrate.

In Jean Craighead George’s book, “One Day In the Woods,” Rebecca, a young explorer, searches the woods near her home for the elusive Ovenbird — a bird her Uncle Luke claims is a wizard, writes Sandra L. Kisselback this week in her Berne Library column as she urges readers to notice nature.

Blooming poinsettia plant, readers! Now is a fine time to appreciate the power of the potted plant. Or, to get your seeds started in your indoor containers.

Here in the library, a poinsettia named Brightstar is in her third year of residency sprouting her reds once more. As any gardener knows, the thrill of a blossoming plant is pure joy.

“It’s true, Poinsettias will grow their red bracts again,” according to Broccoli Spear, Seed Garden organizer extraordinaire. “They need 14 hours of darkness each day to bring on the reds again.” Who knew?

March is hedging us closer to spring with each sunrise. Daylight hours are lengthening and Broccoli Spear is encouraging all garden enthusiasts to get your plans in gear and figure out what you’ll grow in your gardens. 

For seed ordering, go to www.bernepubliclibrary.org and click on the Seed Library’s “read more” icon. After the “read more” click, you’ll find two separate links to access the seed inventory as well as an order form to submit seed orders.

There, the seed is planted. Now it’s up to you to benefit from the free seeds made available through the efforts of Broccoli Spear.

Notice nature

With seed ideas bubbling to the surface you might also be adding notes and drawings to your nature journals. This is a great time of year to notice quiet changes moving about you.

In Jean Craighead George’s book, “One Day In the Woods,” Rebecca, a young explorer, searches the woods near her home for the elusive Ovenbird — a bird her Uncle Luke claims is a wizard. Rebecca spies several wizards during her day in the woods as the author subtly introduces you to the forest inhabitants Rebecca meets.


Moving indoors after your outdoor journaling, readers and writers have mingles to get to. On Sunday, March 7, at 7 p.m. the Berne Sunday Book Club meets to discuss “The Kitchen House” by Kathleen Grissom.

You’ll meet 7-year-old Irish orphan Lavinia. Her parents die on board their ship transport to America. The Captain, James Pyke, makes Lavinia an indentured servant at his tobacco plantation under the charge of Belle, his illegitimate daughter.

Skipping over to Tuesday, March 9, the writing group, Journeys On the Page, shares personal-experience writings, research projects and the gift of support through listening.

Journeys On the Page, where words and ideas grow. Mingle at 7 p.m via GoToMeeting. Interested in joining? Give the library a jingle to join the mingle: 518-872-1246.

Jumping to Thursday, March 11, the Library Board of Trustees convenes at 6:30 p.m. for its monthly business meeting. 

In-person visits

Library news flash for March: As of March 1, limited in-person visits of 15 minutes are back. Hours are Monday to Friday from 2 to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Also, fine-free March is here for all returned Berne library items.

— Photo by Al Ravenna, World telegram photographer, Library of congress

The March 2 birthday of Theodor Seuss “Ted” Geisel — best known as Dr. Seuss — was the inspiration for the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day celebration. Here, in 1957, Geisel draws the Grinch.

That’s a wrap, people. The stage is set. Have you called 518-872-1246 or emailed [email protected] to R.S.V.P. yet?

Over the last few weeks you’ve been introduced to seven personalities. Two pastors, Robert and Jay; Nancy the storyteller; and Kevin, a young college student with artists and dreamers on his mind. There’s Avery, king of the blue oyster mushrooms; Fox, a Scout for all seasons; and John, the lifelong learner. 

Get ready to experience the sharing of wide-ranging passions during “TEDxBernePublicLibrary’s — Life on the Hill” event this weekend. Tune in on Saturday, Feb. 27, from 1 to 3 p.m. and meet who’s talking at the library’s first ever TEDx show.  


March mindset 

While the library’s TEDx presentation remains high on their radar, the Word of the Month Club members also know its time to hail their focus word for March. After hearing about the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day celebration on March 2, the Word of the Month Club collaborated on a little research.

It became clear the NEA organization had a grand idea when it chose to spotlight the well known children’s book author, Dr. Suess, and his March 2 birthday, as an initiative to get kids excited about reading.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go,” said Dr. Suess.   

Out of the initiative grew National Read Across America Day. Since launching in 1998, March 2’s National Read across America Day remains the pivotal banner for National Reading Month. Some start the March reading party by getting their favorite Seuss books out and donning a Seuss character outfit. This is right up the Word of the Month Club’s alley. Always ready to celebrate anything big or small.

Waffling between “quotidian” and “limitless,” club members settled their sights on “limitless” as they thought about Dr. Suess and the limitless places you could go. Eric gave a stirring speech on adopting a limitless mindset toward limitless possibilities and limitless explorations in our quotidian existence.

Raise your glasses to hip-hip-hooraying with Sneetches and Grinches and Hortons and Whos. Here’s to a limitless March mindset full of reading, learning, sharing, and exploring. Cheers!

Reading Party 

And here’s to saying yes to reading and celebrating National Reading Month with the library by joining the “Midway to Spring Reading Party.” See how many pages, books, or minutes you can log in for March.

People of all ages can participate; all reading time is valuable; and reading possibilities are limitless. Call 518-872-1246 and add your name to the guest list.

“Living With Intent”

To start your intentional reading party, parlay this view of “Living With Intent” by Mallika Chopra into a win. Chopra chronicles her struggle to find balance and meaning in her everyday.

Adding knowledge gained from interviewing established thinkers in the field, the path to wholeness and purpose slowly unfolds. Stunning epiphanies you won’t find. You will find relatable intentional living suggestions and reflection exercises wrapping each chapter.

There’s a mind map tool and a balance wheel. Plus, there’s a great afterword by her father, Deepak Chopra. “Living With Intent — Incubate, Notice, Trust, Express, Nourish, Take Action.”  

No fines

Other noteworthy news: An extension of Fine Free February spills over into March. Another full month to get those Berne Library items back on the shelves, fine free.

“So, Fox, how did you get involved with Boy Scouts?” 

“I saw a flyer on the bulletin board at school about joining a Cub Scout group and I thought it looked cool.”

Fox Rifenberg-Stempel asked his parents if he could check it out and they were all for it. That was nine years ago. Fox completed his Eagle Scout project in 2019 with a park improvement venture and is currently Junior Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 1701 in Latham.

Now in his senior year in high school, Fox is working on forming a new Scout group that has historical vibes; it will be Troop 1789, once it is official. He chose the number 1789 because it was the year Troy, New York was founded. Scouting has been a positive force in Fox’s life.

I asked Fox, “What other activities are you involved in? What kind of books do you like to read?”  

“I like reading biographies and history. I’ve been playing the trombone for nine years and I’m in the school marching band. I’m in student government, business club, and I’m senior class treasurer. I also like to prank my sister once in a while. Like when I entered her in the Albany Tulip Queen Contest last year without her knowing it. And she won!” 

While Fox didn’t grow up in the Helderbergs, he has family here virtue of his father, Avery Stempel. Trips to the Hill to visit Grandma and Grandpa Stempel as well as his Stempel great-grandparents included lots of outdoor activities: camping at Thompson’s Lake Campground, hiking in Thacher Park, visiting the Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center, bike rides, and zombie walks.

On occasion, there was the hill climb on what Great-Grandma Sheila called “Her Majesty’s Mountain.” Fox is an avid camper and organizes several camping excursions each year with his Grandma Stempel. 

Fox shares “The Rewards of Scouting” at the TEDx-BernePublicLibrary — “Life on the Hill” on Feb. 27 from 1 to 3 p.m. Call 518-872-1246 or email director@bernepubliclibrary.org  to express your interest in signing up for viewing this first-ever live virtual event on Feb. 27.

Reading party

After you enjoy the TEDx experience, maybe you’d enjoy jumping into a less virtual encounter of the bookish kind. Like signing up for the “Midway to Spring Reading Party.” Call in your registration at 518-872-1246 or drop by curbside and fill in the guest sign-in sheet.

With the Reading Party Missions checklist in hand, get ready to flex your reading muscles. Do a little reading; watch a movie or two; draw, color and explore celebrations around the world. It’s a party and you’re invited.

Photo contest

When you want to take a reading break, hop on the library’s website to vote in the Friends Photography Exhibit contest. Click the GO VOTE sign to view the virtual exhibit entries and choose your favorites. After you vote, order up a few more books to explore and settle in for a cozy weekend.

"Love Shines Bright" is one of the entries in the Berne Library's first virtual photo exhibit. Go to bernelibraryfriends.org to view and vote on the submissions.

“My maternal grandfather taught me you can figure lots of things out using observation, some tinkering, and a mindset. If this doesn’t work, try going at it another way.” That lesson from John Valachovic’s grandfather has stuck with him.

Many people get caught thinking there’s only one way of doing something. They won’t consider another person’s suggestion because of this little thought bubble hovering over their head saying: My way is the only way.

Being bold in tackling projects and looking at different possible solutions is John Valachovic’s mindset. An advanced and avid reader from a young age, John, his wife proclaims, is a lifelong learner. That is just what the library advocates in its mission statement.

“I see you don’t have a library card,” I mentioned to him.

“Yeah, that’s a source of friendly contention at the library. I like to own my books. I’m a big used-book buyer and have my own library at home,” he said.

John’s interest in local history, historical fiction, late 18th- and early 19th-century British naval history and English cookery is just a slice of the topics covered by books lining his shelves.

Becoming his son’s cub master when his oldest started the second grade turned into another learning adventure. It fit his love of the outdoors like a glove.

From mentoring Eagle Scout projects, teaching Dutch-oven cooking, guiding outdoor camping excursions, and nurturing leadership for 13 years as a Scoutmaster, rewards soared. 

John Valachovic shares his “Journey as a Lifelong Learner” on Saturday, Feb. 27, during the “TEDxBernePublicLibrary — Life On the Hill” event taking place from 1to 3 p.m. in the library’s virtual live broadcast. You are all invited to tune in.


Fine Free February is ferrying to a fine start. Any and all Berne library items returned during the month will be checked in fine free. Look around and bring them over as you go about tackling your upcoming spring sprucing projects.

Broccoli Spear’s advice

One of the items on your spring list may involve gardening. Broccoli Spear has been busy checking the Seed Garden inventory at the library.

“Now is the perfect time to think about getting your garden plan down on paper,” Broccoli Spear notes. She is gearing up to make sure you can take advantage of the wonderful seed varieties available for free.

What plants will be sprouting in your garden this year? 

Reading Party

Celebrate the joy of reading when you become guest readers in the “Midway to Spring Reading Party.” Registration begins Feb. 12 for any and all interested readers.

Track your reading minutes through April 2. Participation certificates, prizes and suggested activities are part of the party plan. Join in and share the fun of reading.

Read, dream, explore

Questions on hours or services? Call the library at 518-872-1246. Check the library’s Facebook page or log into www.bernepubliclibrary.org. Voting for favorite photos in the Friends sixth photography exhibit can be accessed through the library’s web page as well as more information on library happenings. Read, dream, explore.

While temporarily transitioning to curbside pick-me-ups, accommodating your reading and movie entertainment needs remain a top priority for library staff. Call 518-872-1246 to schedule pick-ups. Available hours are Monday to Friday from 2 to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Please leave a message any time and someone will get back to you.

Welcome distraction

Distraction. Fuzzy head. Crrraaaazzzzaaaay. Have you experienced dialing a phone number and forgotten who you were calling? Or walked upstairs, looked around perplexed and asked, “Why did I come up here? 

Here’s an idea. Sign up for the “Midway to Spring Reading Party.” Last week, in error, it was the “Winter Spring Reading Party.” Must have been distracted by a blinding quasar.

So, you’re gonna sign up, right? Hey, it’s a party without the fuss. Just bits of reading, participation awards, and activity suggestions for all ages. Call the library and add your name to the library’s “Midway to Spring Reading Party” guest list from Feb. 12 to April 2. It might be just the distraction you were searching for.

“Winter Storms”

Sunday Book Club meets on Feb. 7 at 4 p.m. to discuss “Winter Storms” by Elin Hilderbrand. The third installment of Hilderbrand’s Winter Street Inn series starring the Quinn family of Nantucket Island.

Choose your

favorite photo

The Friends first virtual photo exhibit entries are in. Go to bernelibraryfriends.org to view and vote on the submissions. Choose your favorites in each category and then give a thumbs-up on your overall favorite in the People’s Choice contest.  

FFF Month

It’s FFF Month at the Berne Public Library. That’s Fine Free February on any and all Berne Library items. Look under the dog bed, in the clothes hamper, and up in the attic.

Return any long-overdue or just a smitch overdue Berne library material in good condition during the month of February for your Fine Free February reward.

Mushroom fever

Avery Stempel. A poet, artist, mushroom forager, former Empac front-of-house manager, teacher, philosopher, entrepreneur, apartment manager, father, brother, son, nephew, and friend. A writer, musician, and mushroom devotee.

Avery’s appreciation for nature, family, and friends shows in his laugh and in his smile.

After being nurtured to adulthood in the mountains of East Berne and transitioning through many life changes, Avery landed in Troy, New York.

“So you’re a nature lover living in a city?” I asked.

“Yeah, but Troy’s a city that’s close to nature. In my first days of moving here, I spotted deer eating apples from a tree in front of my house. I’m not a fan of the woodchucks though. They ambushed my garden more than once without a glimmer of guilt.”

A casualty of the pandemic, Avery’s furlough from his 12-year role as Empac’s front-of-house Manager, shot his dream of building an urban mushroom farm from table talk to “let’s do this.” Inspired by a special woman in his life who has been growing mushrooms in the Hilltowns for years, Avery caught mushroom fever and is mushrooming his passion to new heights with Collar City Mushrooms, despite COVID’s crushing handprint.

Experience Avery’s talk: “Helderberg Fungi and the Ways Mycelium Spreads,” during “TEDxBernePublicLibrary — Life On the Hill” broadcasting lively and virtual Feb. 27 from 1 to 3 p.m. Don’t know what mycelium is? Tune in and find out.