It’s early October. Fall will soon hit full force, with a spectacular array of colors. It’s Westport’s most gorgeous time of year — rivaled only by spring, 6 months from now.
As the leaves turn, Debra Kandrak is thinking about daffodils.
It’s time, she says, to “paint the town yellow.”
Rotary at Church Lane and Myrtle Avenue (Photo/Dan Woog)
Kandrak is the woman behind the town’s 4th annual daffodil-planting project. Her efforts over the past 3 years have resulted in an explosion of flowers, from neighborhoods like Greens Farms to the Westport Library, Cribari Bridge, traffic island and the entrances to Staples High and Bedford Middle Schools.
Groups like the Westport Garden Club and National Charity League have helped. But Kandrak is the driving force, helping the project, um, flower.
This year’s theme is “In Memory of a Loved One Lost.” Kandrak encourages Westporters to plant flowers to honor those who died in the pandemic — or any other time.
Kandrak also hopes to plant a Memory Garden for Layla Malon, the young child killed last June. She is looking for ideas for an appropriate site.
Meanwhile, she urges Westporters to plant daffodils wherever they can. Sites include roadsides in front of homes, around mailboxes and street signs, in front of businesses, or anywhere else needing a pop of color.
Kandrak’s goal is for Westport to have an annual Daffodil Festival, like Nantucket’s.
For now, please email email@example.com. Let her know where you’ve planted your flowers. Next spring — just 6 months from now — she’ll take a photo.
Sherwood Island Connector, at the Post Road. (Photos courtesy of Debra Kandrak)
It’s a Ramadan tradition for Muslims to visit civil service offices, meet executive officers in person, and thank them for their contributions.
Yesterday, Feroz Virani, Adil Kassam and Tameeza Asaria — members of the Ismaili Muslim community — presented 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Police Chief Foti Koskinas and Fire Chief Robert Yost with a gift of appreciation.
At Town Hall …
… Police headquarters …
… and the fire station. (Photos courtesy of Town of Westport)
Westport Republican Town Committee member Jim Campbell has tossed his hat in the ring: for chair of the Connecticut Republican Party.
A former chair of the Greenwich Republican Town Committee whose early and avid support of Donald Trump was chronicled in Evan Osnos’ New Yorker story “How Greenwich Republicans Learned to Love Trump,” Campbell is an executive with Frontier Communications.
The cover story for AARP Magazine’s April/May issue is Michael Douglas.
In a long interview about his life and career, the 76-year-old actor mentions his teenage years in Westport:
I was into hot rods, tinkering with cars. I worked at a Mobil station at one point, and my first real award was Mobil Man of the Month. I was also a member of a group called the Downshifters. A little bit like the Jets in West Side Story: [sings] “When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way.”
I had a D.A. — when you’d comb your hair to look like a duck’s ass — the D.A., we called it. We were known to spend a little time locating automobiles that had parts that we wanted. Not proud about it, but it kept me out of a lot of other trouble.
Scott Smith writes: “I can’t remember a prettier season for daffodils and forsythia. I read an New York Times article on tulips that suggested the snow cover this winter may have helped. I
“I don’t recall buying any type of daffodil with multiple blooms, though I know some such varieties exist. So when I spotted this pretty bloom in my yard, I wondered if I have some sort of self-evolved mutant. Anybody else around town have this sort of daffodil?”
Speaking of blooms: The Westport Garden Club’s annual plant sale has a new venue: Jesup Green. The date is Friday, May 14 (9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.).
Also new this year: the option to pre-order plants online, for curbside pickup. The ordering page goes live May 1, at http://westportgardenclub.org.
Held annual since 1928 (except during World War II, and last year’s pandemic), the event features over 1,000 homegrown perennials from members’ own gardens, with a special section of Connecticut native plants. Club members will be on site, for advice. Each plant has a tag with care information too.
The Westport Book Shop — across Jesup Green — will offer a selection of garden books.
Proceeds from the sale — and the club’s booth at the Westport Museum for History & Culture’s May 1 Spring Market — support the club’s projects, including maintenance of local public gardens and parks. For more information, click here.
Westporter Melissa Bernstein has been very open about her lifelong battle with existential anguish and depression. LifeLines — the multimedia platform recently launched, in collaboration with Doug, her husband and fellow Melissa & Doug toy company founder — has gotten great publicity.
One of the most in-depth and powerful stories was just published in the Washington Post.Click here to read. (Hat tip: Marc Selverstone)
Food insecurity and cancer are both difficult situations. Too often, they go together.
In honor of Mother’s Day, Pink Aid is helping struggling moms feed their families. With every the breast cancer support group will purchase food cards for women battling both breast cancer and financial hardship.
Pink Aid will send every donor’s mother a card acknowledging the meaningful gift. For every donation of $100 or more, they’ll send the donor (or donor’s mom) a reusable insulated grocery bag. Click here to donate.
From the Cincinnati Reds to Greens Farms Academy. That’s the unusual career path for the private school’s new athletic director. Eric Lee — senior director of player development for the MLB team — begins his next job in early July. He replaces Tauni Butterfield, who is moving to North Carolina after 2 decades at the Beachside Avenue school.
Lee’s 8 years with the Reds includes stints at director of baseball operations and senior director of international operations. He played baseball at Haverford, where he earned a BA i political science. He then taught world history and coached coaches baseball at basketball at Hawaii Preparatory Academy before returning to Haverford as an assistant dean of students and assistant baseball coach. He also worked and coached at National Presbyterian School in Washington, DC — and earned a law degree from the University of Maryland.
After last fall’s 2nd annual “Paint the Town Yellow” campaign, organizers were pleased.
All over Westporter, groups and individual gardeners had planted daffodils.
Now — as the bulbs sprout — they are really happy.
So are the rest of us — even those who don’t realize where so many beautiful flowers came from.
Prospect Road — with 7,000 daffodils — is particularly gorgeous. Melissa and John Ceriale invite anyone to clip a bouquet in front of #11, 13, 21 and 25, to give to someone who has been bullied — or stopped a bully. (Please take them from the road only — not the garden beyond the stone wall!)
Also last fall, the National Charity League placed daffodils around the trees at the entrance to Staples High School.
Staples High School
Nearby, parents and children planted them in front of then Bedford Middle School entry drive too.
Bedford Middle School
The Westport Garden Club put daffodils around the Westport Library. “Paint the Town Yellow” organizer Debra Kandrak did the same in front of the pine trees along the William F. Cribari Bridge.
William F. Cribari Bridge
Other residents planted in front of their homes and around their neighborhood.
One Greens Farms scene …
… and another.
“Everywhere I drive, I see a burst of yellow. It makes me smile!” Debra says.
She wonders if one day Westport could have a Daffodil Festival.
Why not? It would sure make other towns green with envy.
Greens Farms Road, at Prospect …
… and the Sherwood Island Connector. (All photos/Debra Kandrak)
“Imagine driving through Westport and seeing thousands of daffodils around mailboxes, on the roadside, in front of stores,” she said. “It would be so pretty. And they can be in honor of loved ones, so they’re even more meaningful.”
She got commercial landlord David Waldman on board. Laurelrock and Northeast Horticulture, which maintain several traffic islands, joined in. So did the Westport Garden Club, town officials, businesses, and plenty of random Westporters.
A collage of daffodils.
As she drove around last spring — when the town was laid low by the coronavirus — Debra was heartened to see thousands of new daffodils.
The residents on Soundview Drive had planted hundreds of beautiful flowers along the beach exit road. Project Return planted them in front of their North Compo shelter. They sprouted in front of The Learning Community School on Hillspoint Road, at the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge, and at dozens of other spots, both public and private.
The Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge downtown.
Now, Debra announced the 2nd annual “Paint the Town Yellow” campaign. This year’s theme: Every daffodil represents a stand against bullying.
“Bullying destroys lives,” Debra says. “It chips away at someone’s self-esteem. As you plant flowers with your children, teach them empathy, not excess.
“Our country is in turmoil. Let Westport, show the world that we practice kindness, compassion and empathy. We can do this!”
Debra asks residents, committees, businesses and the town of Westport to plant daffodils “in front of your home, around the mailbox post, by street signs, at your store or office — everywhere!”
She would love to see schools get involved. (Parents can donate daffodils, she suggests).
Sherwood Island Connector, at the Post Road. (Photos courtesy of Debra Kandrak)
Last spring, when we desperately needed to be uplifted, daffodils did the trick. No one knows what this spring will bring.
“A long long time ago, as children would say (but really only last fall), we planted 1,000 daffodil bulbs in the beds along Hillspoint Road, and our entrance in back.
“Our volunteers — along with hundreds of other people Westporters — decided to ‘paint the town yellow’ in memory of people we love, and to brighten our passings all over town.
“Now, in the most bittersweet of ways, they are blooming en masse. As I come and go, to and from an empty CCDC, I remember the families and children who helped make this beautiful scene possible — and I hope and hope some more.”
The project was conceived by Debra Kandrak. Other daffodil gardens can be seen by the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge downtown, the Sherwood Island Connector, Beachside Avenue, and Project Return.
Daffodils around town.
Rindy Higgins writes: “Calling all Westporters to go outside tonight at 8 p.m. and howl at the pink moon! If the Italians can sing from their balconies to connect during social distancing, we can howl to the moon as a way to reconnect with the human pack.
“Even if it’s cloudy, there’s still the biggest and brightest supermoon of 2020 in the sky. So let’s connect to nature and each other by howling tonight at 8!”
Lisa Power provides this update on the Norwalk Hospital meal train:
The goal is to get daily meals to every unit at Norwalk Hospital (20 people each), delivered by a restaurant. It’s a win-win: feeding hard-working medical personnel, while supporting local businesses.
Many restaurants are even providing discounts for donors. Click here for a list of participating restaurants (scroll down to “General Instructions,” and to donate. Restaurants interested in being listed should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A special shout out to Food for the Front Line who have been amazing and feeding all units at Norwalk Hosptial on Mondays. I’m hoping this Meal Train will help fill the gap on those other days.
Earthplace now has its own YouTube channel. Features include animal videos, activities to do at home, and story time. Click here to see.
The coronavirus is taking a toll even on Stew Leonard’s. Departments are shutting early — the butchers now leave at 5 p.m. weekdays — and the entire store will be closed this Easter. That’s a first in the store’s history.
Easter services may be canceled, but one tradition lives on: Jalna Jaeger’s Easter Egg tree!
For the 13th year, the 1971 Staples High School graduate has decorated a large tree on her 3 East Avenue property in Norwalk (just down the hill from Stew Leonard’s) with hundreds of eggs.
Kids (of all ages) enjoy it. “We all need something cheerful these days,” Jalna says. She provides it!
Here’s a novel way to amuse yourself (and others), during the pandemic.
Westporter Steven Kranz is a founder of Strax Networks. The new company just launched “StraxAR.” It’s “augmented reality” — and all you need is a smartphone.
Take a video. Then digitally “stick it” to any item: a logo, a painting, a stop sign…
Take a look at this video:
Strax is offering any “06880” reader the chance to submit a video (45 seconds or less). It could be a special recipe, a do-it-yourself project, even a singing dog. They’ll “stick it” to the target of your choice. Your content will be available worldwide, to anyone who “Straxes” that target.
Send your video to email@example.com. Their crew will turn it into an augmented reality experience. And — completing the circle — “06880” will feature some submissions here. (The Strax app is available through the App Store and Google Play.)
PS: If you’d like, your augmented reality experience can lead to the home page of a charity of your choice.
And finally, this one might be a springtime cliché. But — as Jalna says above — “we all need something cheerful these days.” We can always count on the Beatles for that.
This is peak fall foliage time. The wonder of nature is on display all over town. It’s an amazing, spectacular, all-too-brief moment that makes us realize, yeah, Westport really is someplace special.
So why is Debra Kandrak thinking of daffodils?
The yellow bulbs are an early sign of spring. But they’re planted in autumn. Debra wants Westporters to plant thousands of them soon.
A while back, she started a memory garden on her property, in honor of loved ones lost.
She has hundreds of daffodils, and adds more each year. Just when winter seems to drag drearily on,up they pop. (And even if it snows again, they survive. They’re a lot tougher than they look!)
Debra would like to see daffodils everywhere — not just on her property, Willowbrook Cemetery and random other spots.
“Daffodil Mile” at Willowbrook Cemetery.
She’s started a campaign: “Paint the Town Yellow.” If residents, business owners and town officials participate, she says, “it would be a beautiful thing.”
Both literally and figuratively.
“Imagine driving through Westport and seeing thousands of daffodils around mailboxes, on the roadside, in front of stores,” she says. “It would be so pretty. And they can be in honor of loved ones, so they’re even more meaningful.”
She reached out to landlords David Waldman and Roger Leifer. They’re on board. So are Laurelrock and Northeast Horticulture, which maintain several traffic islands.
Click here to help support “06880” via credit card or PayPal. Any amount is welcome — and appreciated! Reader contributions keep this blog going. (Alternate methods: Please send a check to “06880” c/o Dan Woog, 301 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880. Or use Venmo: @DanWoog06880. Or Zelle: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!)