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Edie at home in her kitchen.

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The View from Mary's Farm

Finding Home

I live in the town of Harrisville, New Hampshire, a little brick mill village that is not on the way to anywhere so its anonymity has been easier to maintain as the great sweep of time has moved from the 18th to the 21st century. The story of this village is somewhat epic. We’ll skip all the drama and go to 1857 when Harrisville seceded from the town of Dublin and became its own entity. During the Civil War, the big woolen mills were booming, belting out material used to make soldiers’ uniforms as well. The bounty of war was not only in munitions. Woolen fortunes rose and fell but in the 1960s, polyester pretty much replaced wool and the beat of the looms fell silent. Perhaps for good. The mills were shuttered. In 1971, instead of a “House for Sale,” Yankee’s column was retitled, “Town for Sale,” and the whole town was listed, the bankrupt mill and the buildings and houses that belonged to the mill, in essence, the whole entire village.
A man from New Jersey bought the town in order to relocate his business up here, which he did but he quickly resold (for one dollar) the houses and all extraneous buildings back to the family that had owned the mills for generations to avoid paying a fearsome tax bill. A lot of the buildings were boarded up and in disrepair, however, the fact that they were mostly brick perhaps saved them. Benign neglect. The family started something called Historic Harrisville. Under that umbrella, they gathered the town’s history, creating documentation of the remarkably intact industrialized village which in turn gave the village foundation to become, over time, a National Historic Landmark.
About that time, my aunt, who lived then in Amesbury, Massachusetts, took my grandmother, who was in her nineties at that time, for a drive. They liked to do that, exploring the back roads of New England. Returning from one of these rambles, my Victorian grandmother was heard to say that they had been to paradise, where they saw a “fairy tale village.” We all wanted to know where they had been so we could go there too. My grandmother described this place, in an almost operatic aria, as all brick buildings, a lake above and a canal that ran through and under them, falls tumbling like a ladder, down and down, through the center of town. But they could not say where it was or how they got there – just that they “happened” upon it. And so a quest began. Instead of the random drives they used to take, Nanny and Aunt Peg would set out to find again this fairy tale village. They drove and drove, this way and that and probably had some wonderful crawls past Norman Rockwell scenes but my grandmother died at the age of 98 in 1978, never gaining paradise again.
In 1982, I bought a little rundown house in the woods in Chesham, a small section of Harrisville. I had never heard of either town but it was near where I worked and I liked the promise the house held. I had big plans. I gave Aunt Peg directions to come see what I had bought. When she arrived, she was so excited, she scarcely glanced at my (humble) purchase. “I found it!” she cried out as she entered. On her way she had passed through Harrisville. “I found the fairy tale village again!” We stood in silence, mouths agape. How could it be? I had managed not only to find that storied village but, unaware that this was the place for which Nanny and Aunt Peg had searched so long, I made it my home. It’s only gotten better since.
From edieclark.com

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Selected Works

Articles
In 1992, the Bishop of Worcester condemned St. Joseph's Catholic Church and ordered it closed. The parishioners refused to leave, sleeping on cots and on the hard pews. For thirteen months this was their life. In July of 1993, they were removed by the police. In many ways this was the blossoming of their faith. Originally published in Yankee Magazine in November 1993.
Growing up, nothing I could do seemed to please my mother and nothing she said made sense to me. But when my mother, on the threshold of death, came to live with me, I found what seemed to have been lost forever. Originally published in Yankee Magazine, May 1995
(The follow-up article to Miracle at St. Joseph's.) The Bishop turned to them and said, "Your prayers have been answered, the hard hearts have softened." Originally published in Yankee Magazine, December 1996
A reflection on the power of cooking and friendship and the concept of family. Originally published in Yankee Magazine, November/December 2007
Memorial Day, Harrisville, New Hampshire 1995. Originally published in Yankee Magazine, May 1996
My Articles
Libraries occupy a special place in the heart of a town. Evening events at the library give a strong sense of community and make it seem like a great place to live. And in the wake of the online revolution small town libraries have found a way to not only survive but to be indispensable.
In December 2008 an epic ice storm left virtually the entire state of New Hampshire without power. The residual effects of that storm paralyzed the Monadnock Region almost through Christmas. A first person account.
In 1994, sixteen-year-old Billy Best was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease. After several treatments, he ran away to avoid chemotherapy. What happened after that may have been a miracle.
Roxanne Quimby once lived primitively in the Maine woods. Today she owns 90,000 acres of those woods, and her goal is to create a national park to preserve the landscape forever. So why do so many people wish she'd just go away?
Multi-million dollar border stations are rising along our line between US and Canada. What was once the "friendliest border" has become deadly serious.
Renowned short story writer, Andre Dubus, reflects on the accident that cost him his legs.
A trip to Poland discovers a beloved family friend
An elegy for the master of the short story.
Fall comes to The County
Thousands seek healing from this innocent, comatose child.
A complete listing of articles published since 1978
Fiction
An encounter with a sick fox brings a young woman to the heart of her grief