A Place I’m From

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.

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12 Comments

    1. Thanks for the “like” and the “follow,” Jackie. I see that on your site you did get “Blog U” on your sidebar. I’m really glad, because I couldn’t begin how to explain it. I have an awful time with the widget thing. . .still learning. I’ll be over to check out your posts and I look forward to reading more of you.

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  1. I love this first bit of your writing I got to read. My home town, where I now live again, has many of the same issues to deal with, in spite of being in Northern California. Is this Alaska or Canada perhaps? Intriguing. 🙂 Your writing has an undercurrent that a lot of people would miss if they hadn’t lived in a rural area. 🙂 Nice.

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    1. Thanks for the positive feedback, Jessie! This place is the Northeast Kingdom–the northern-est, eastern-est part of Vermont. So you were right on with your Canada guess. And I really like that you felt that undercurrent!

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    1. I don’t think that a writer (or someone who works on it, anyway!) could get any finer feedback than that, Lesley! Thank you so much.
      Thank you for the “like” and for the “follow.” I’m glad to be part of your blogging neighborhood!
      ~pat

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  2. I was curious about where you like as well and noted your response in another comment. It sounds like it is pretty tough to live in that climate. What do you like about it? What makes you want to stay?

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    1. Hmm, good question. I interpreted a Writing 101 prompt broadly and wrote about this place, which is one of the places I’ve lived that has significantly shaped my life. I learned so much about the fierceness of nature there. Human nature, too. Extremes have the potential to draw deeply from a person. The place grew me up, I guess!
      Thanks for the “like” as well as the question, Deborah!
      ~pat

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Deborah, I just wanted to add that I visited your site and am smiling at the huge difference between the place you’re from and a place I’m from! I’ll come back for a visit soon.

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