Vermont Commune Story

Writing about summer camp — in February — makes me pause over photographs. How green and gorgeous is Vermont’s summer. The profusion of hydrangeas. The luxury of lying in green grass.

I spent a few hours last week speaking with Peter Gould of Shakespeare Camp fame. But Shakespeare Camp is just an iceberg tip of his fame. A few years back, I heard him read the title story from his collection Horse-Drawn Yogurt at the Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick. The bookstore was packed. The evening may or may not have been snowing, but I remember the night as snowy, because the story, set in winter, is so evocative.

I’ve shared a few lines from this story below. The story is one of the very best stories I’ve read about the countercultural life in Vermont — the energy and enthusiasm and love of Vermont and the sadness, too.

The farm would remain. People would leave. Some would stay, working in town but making their home there, connected to the mythic past but not to the daily work of a farm. New folks would come, with new goals. Soon no one would remember most of what had already been tried, what this antique tool was for, what dream that pile of rotting lumber in the lower pasture represented. We would always plant a little organic garden, but that would not be our excuse for being. We could live off the economy better than we could live off the land.

— Peter Gould, Horse-Drawn Yogurt: Stories from Total Loss Farm

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By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

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