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The View from Mary's Farm

Winter in New England

In Heaven

In this isolated place, the woes of the rest of the world sometimes seem very far away, quite imaginary. But I have an apartment in the downstairs of this house that I rent out in the summertime. Guests come from all over – California, England, Belgium, New York City, Saudi Arabia – proving to me that I need go nowhere; the world can come to me. I meet the most interesting people this way. A weaver. A documentary filmmaker. A writer of scripts for real-life TV dramas. An artist.

The apartment was home for some time to the grandfather of the big family who once lived here. I’ve scrubbed it up and painted it over but there are still residues of its antique beginnings – the old brick chimney that passes through the kitchen to the upstairs, the deep pine cupboards, the light over the kitchen sink that keeps vigil. Guests seem to enjoy this bit of antiquity. They sit on the porch rockers and take in the untainted air, the silken quiet, and the unadorned view of our mountain.
Last spring, a woman about my age called to see if she could rent the apartment for her parents. She was staying nearby but had no room for them. I booked them in for a week in July. When they arrived, I greeted them and showed them around. They spoke to me in the musical lilt of the Deep South. It was haying season, the only time of year when there is a lot of traffic, tractors and trucks coming and going. I apologized for what I knew might be a noisy week. As we spoke, the big green John Deere wheeled into the drive, towing the baler, and headed for the back field. The father smiled broadly. It seems he had grown up on a farm in Arkansas and had done his share of haying in his day. Evidently he loved nothing more than a farm scene, noise and all.

It was not only haying season but also peak season for berries. I have blueberry bushes and a blackberry bramble that yields good, sweet berries if you can get to them without drawing blood. And a few raspberry canes that came to me from a neighbor a few years ago, humble beginnings for what’s now a darn good raspberry stand. Early mornings in July, I like to make a quick tour of these bushes, carrying my breakfast bowl with me as I pick. When I do this, words such as manna and ambrosia come to mind.

That week, I was busy, not home much but whenever I was, it seemed to me that my southern guests were resting contentedly on the porch. The week passed quickly and soon, I looked out to see them packing their bags into their car. I hurried down to say goodbye. It was yet another of our glorious blue sky days. The mother stood for a long moment beside the car, looking around her, and then, sounding like a character out of Tennessee Williams, she said, “Yue know, Aah feel as if we ah in heaven.”

“I know,” I replied, “I often tell people that I live in heaven.” She turned to me then, a look of surprise on her face. “Yue mean, we agree?”

“Oh yes,” I said, “we do agree!”

“Well then,” she went on, “if we agree, then it must be true! We ah all in heaven!” We all grinned and nodded conspiratorially.

The green tractor worked in the distance; clouds drifted across the blue skies; berries ripened silently on their branches. It was hard, very hard, not to imagine that all was right with the world.

To order your copy of The View from Mary's Farm, click on the links on your left or send $18.95 ($14.95 plus $4 shipping and handling) to Mary's Farm, PO Box 112, Dublin NH 03444. Make checks out to Edie Clark and be sure to include your mailing address. Thank you!

Selected Works

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
An encounter with a sick fox brings a young woman to the heart of her grief