Things Left on the Back Porch

A woman I worked with for one summer in Craftsbury, Vermont, lived the rest of the year in New York City. Before she left, I offered to mail her a few books. Don’t, she said, really alarmed. The mailman leaves packages on my doorknob in my apartment building, and people steal them.

Really? She assured me, yes, people did, in fact, steal.

People steal in lovely Vermont, too, but not like that. On my back porch, I leave my friend’s vest and a jar of peaches my daughter and I canned last summer. When my daughter returns from school, she discovers a gift of chocolate cookies and a cat calendar.

While boiling pasta for dinner, I leaf through the Eliot Porter photography book my friend left, too. In it, I discover a chapter written about nearby Glover, Vermont, not far from us.

The passage below reminds me of when I was 18 and moved to Vermont, and knew this state was exactly where I wanted to live — with a kind of certainty I’ve known about a handful of things — being a mother and a writer, tending a garden, the necessity of laughter…. and handing things from friend to friend.

Vermont is a great character mill, and it grinds exceedingly fine. It is too rough a country for pretenders, but it will make room for anyone, however odd, if he doesn’t on airs or show himself incompetent or think himself above the homespun and the calluses and the hard-mouthed virtues that Vermonters have come to the hard way, and don’t intend to lose.

— Wallace Stegner


7 thoughts on “Things Left on the Back Porch

  1. Could you please share the title of this Eliot Porter photography book with the chapter about Glover? I just couldn’t figure it out, even with my extensive internet sleuthing! BUT because I went down the rabbit hole trying to find it, I discovered a different book he wrote which I’ve never read titled Summer Island: Penobscot Country…which I shall be able to check out of the library on our beloved Swan’s Island, Maine when we go for our annual visit soon. I’d really like to know the one that has the chapter about Glover. Thanks.

    • Ah, the one in your accompanying photo😜. I loved that post, btw. Some of the same reasons I chose to live in Vermont. Thank you!

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