I’ve joined the Writing 101 Challenge that WordPress is currently sponsoring. Typically, I’m way behind on my posting. This is from the day 2 prompt.
The snow comes, sometimes in October, and it hardly stops until May. The cold bites with razor teeth. Along with the deer, moose, turkey, and bear, hunting season annually claims a few human lives as well: young men with their lives ahead of them; older men whose families love them deeply in spite of their big drinking habits and faint scents of domestic abuse.
The snow falls hard and fast, leaving the rocky fields, red spruce, and balsam firs pristine and white before the soot makes the fields dreary again. Winter lasts so long that cabin fever is often tried as a legitimate excuse for a variety of behaviors that would otherwise result in divorce or criminal charges. Mud season is practically a formal fifth season and limits comings and goings more severely than the snow. Potholes and erosion mark the 2-lane paved roads and the narrow dirt roads. In one season, more struts are destroyed than there are people in Derby.
Spring, nearly invisible and imperceptible, precedes a brief summer. Growing season can be as fleeting as 60 days but is often 90. The mosquitoes and black flies are predators and must be dealt with in some way. Autumn makes your eyes ache with its pulsing reds, yellows, and oranges. If you look too long, it’s like you’re staring at the sun—the colors of the trees are that strong.
Then winter comes again.
The northeastern-most part of the Northeast Kingdom is a loose container for people eking out economic existences in a wild variety of ways. Women fare well in the helping professions. Farmers often feel they’re working in a hostile environment. The paper and furniture mills shut down routinely when work gets slow. Car mechanics did well until engines became more and more computerized. Logging is good pay, but it’s the second most dangerous job in this country. There’s seasonal work–cutting Christmas trees in late autumn, working at the ski resorts. Some have tried their hands at smuggling, and many have moved large amounts of pot. Some claim disability. Some get themselves arrested for the winter and released in the summer.
Here, too, are some of the first-, second- and third generations of back-to-the-landers of the 1970s, who came from various city-holds across the lower northeast. Although some have returned to the cities, many stayed, were grudgingly accepted as part of the community, and became part of the everyday struggle and celebration that is life along this cold border.
Here, many of the lost arts, aren’t. Stitching everything together, a wedge needle on leather, is an artful way of living called survival.