The farmhouse is built on a cliff above a glacial lake. It’s been years since anyone lived there, although the roof and windows are intact yet. I walk around the house and then stand for a moment at the steep hillside that tumbles down to the lake. Someone lives down below, and I spy a flash of silver roof in the sunlight. Beyond it, the lake.
The road is exceptionally narrow, winding uphill more steeply than most Vermont roads. Whoever built here, I’m guessing, chose this place for the sheer beauty of the view. A foolhardy choice, perhaps, as the house and farm have long since turned over and over in ownership.
I’m here to look at survey marks, line up orange and blue blazes with paper, and read deeper down into the stories of people, of friends and enemies, of what land means to various people. Surveys, roads, grudges, loyalties, all the barriers we erect between ourselves.
Inadvertently, I take the slow road home, stuck in construction on the highway that winds along the lake. A duck flies overhead. At home, I meet my daughter who has just returned from soccer practice. We sit in her car, talking, talking, about olive bread and cheese, sautéing mushrooms with garlic. Around our house and my garden the foliage is simultaneously luminescent and gone by, the leaves dropped dead to the ground, the trees uncloaked. For these moments, the sky is suffused pink. My daughter says, “Not bad.” Around us, an infinity of stories held just for a moment in my hand.
“Nevertheless, something will come of all this.”– John Gardner