Although I’ve lived in Vermont for almost all my adult life, I grew up across the Connecticut River. Growing up in New Hampshire, not only did we meet all the candidates, we met all the sub-candidates, too – anyone who was remotely interested in running for president showed up not only in our small town, but in everyone’s small town. Some students set off a smoke bomb in our high school just before Reagan arrived with his secret service entourage.
The best thing about the New Hampshire primary is that intractable streak of curmudeoniness that runs through the state. Voters in my town expected all candidates to have coffee in Linda’s Diner. You didn’t vote for a no show, and you didn’t take excuses. The second best thing about the New Hampshire primary is that it’s just more fun. It’s happening.
I remember (and this was many years ago) standing on a street in Manchester waiting for Jesse Jackson. Behind us, one newsman complained to another, New Hampshire in January! It’s always freezing, and you have to walk forever to find a pay phone!
The rest of us managed to make do.
In New Hampshire the state lunch is a submarine sandwich with a tub of coleslaw.
This afternoon, in a driving rainstorm that almost instantaneously altered to sunny skies, I took the girls with me to a staff meeting in Burlington. They read for a while, then headed down to the lake’s waterfront, and by the time I arrived, they had both decided Burlington was THE place to live.
On the way home, we stopped in at Big Box Store Land. With all our recent house guests, our towels have been revealed in all their deplorable condition. While I wandered around a mammoth store looking for towels in what had been advertised as a bath store, but had a sizable luggage department, too, the girls scoped out the premises.
They were truly amazed: hair clips could be bought in a plentiful pack and three dozen hairbrushes were on display. One daughter murmured, I’ve never seen so much shampoo in one place.
Such marvels! We left with towels and hair clips. Back at our house, in the cool and rain-fresh evening, we walked around the garden, the little girl noting the singing crickets, while the wood thrush trilled her inimitable melody. As summer winds down, the birdsongs gradually diminish.
The world of plastic baubles thoroughly admired, the girls and I sat on the couch and read.
(Donald Hall) is a writer who (at least on the best day) does not succumb to inner or outer pressure but, rather, knows that what he calls “absorbedness” is the answer–the only answer. Through all of life’s twists and turns–those fleas–he turns to the work the way his grandparents turned to the soil, to the harvest, which waits for no one.
July has reached the point where it’s tipping into August, early summer already flown past. Biking with my daughter along the road last night, I felt the shadows’ coolness, their dimness harboring a deepening darkness.
Nonetheless, growth roars on, the elecampane blooming way up there, above my head.
we live in a small island stone nation
without color under gray clouds and wind
distant the unlimited ocean acute
lymphoblastic leukemia without seagulls
or palm trees without vegetation
or animal life only barnacles and lead
colored moss that darkens when months do
hours days weeks months weeks days hours
the year endures without punctuation…
the sea unrelenting wave gray the sea
flotsam without islands broken crates
block after block the same house the mall
no cathedral no hobo jungle the same women
and men they long to drink hayfields
without dog or semicolon or village square
without monkey or lily without garlic
In my first gardening days, I planted few flowers, hoarding what little space I had in those days for vegetables – work to eat, work to eat. How years unravel and unwind. Today, the garden is lush with vegetables, but my beloveds are the blossoms. This morning, the reseeded calendula is nearly open. My earlier days, with nursing babies and accumulating bills, were a scramble to plant and weed and harvest. These days, I pause and watch the traveling pollinators at their work. Sustenance.
Your peonies burst out, white as snow squalls, with red flecks at their shaggy centers in your border of prodigies by the porch. I carry one magnanimous blossom indoors and float it in a glass bowl, as you used to do.
While writing an essay on Thoreau and a sense of place in contemporary Vermont literature, I’ve reread Donald Hall’s “Why I Hate Vermont.” Having spent a chunk of my childhood in Hall’s New Hampshire, I can only laugh at this essay. It’s wickedly funny (and his claim about the trout is actually true).
In Vermont deer are required to have shots. In Vermont people keep flocks of spayed sheep to decorate their lawns. In Vermont when inchling trout are released into streams, a state law requires that they be preboned and stuffed with wild rice delicately flavored with garlic and thyme…. In Vermont, in 1999, the license plate slogan was Eat Three Nutritious Meals a Day. In legislative committee this slogan edged out Experience Mozart.