Living in Vermont and relying on a cell phone means knowing the best reception landscape around you – precisely which few feet along your dirt road have enough bars to dial out.
Yesterday, with our home reception reliably lousy these days, I parked behind the Greensboro Garage’s yellow barn, opened my notebook, unstrapped my sandals, and went to work. The crickets were singing, and the sun was a peachy end-of-August temperature. I spread my notebook on the dash, with the doors open, in a little breeze that moved along that valley. As a writer, I’ve worked in all kinds of places, from cemeteries to a hospital closet, and this was prime territory, but I’m not sure this represents all that much of a technological advance.
I once used a landline at my own desk; now the phone fits in my hand, which is good thing because I sometimes need to hold it up, believing that will improve reception or send off an email I’m anxious to move along.
Admiring this substantial barn reminded me of Salinger’s Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters. Remember Seymour Glass calling his fiancée in World War II?
The connection was so bad, and I couldn’t talk at all during most of the call. How terrible it is when you say I love you and the person at the other end shouts back “What?”
– Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction
Yesterday evening, parked at the top of Kate Brook Road, near a meadow storybook-beautiful with wildflowers and ringed by mountains, neighbors stopped and asked if I had a flat tire. When I held out my phone, they said, Use our landline anytime. The door’s unlocked. If I stopped by, chances are, I’d leave some of my tomatoes, and sample some of theirs.