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Edie at home in her kitchen.

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The View from Mary's Farm

The View from Mary's Farm for December 2004

November 18, 2004

Storm Home

In the North Dakota, the term “storm home” refers to homes where children who live outside of town can go when a storm takes place while they are in school. I always found the concept rather romantic – a storm so severe that a family other than your own would take you in and care for you. It never occurred to me that, as an adult, I would have to find a storm home. But, late one night last December, that is what happened after a friend and I had sung in a popular local performance of the Messiah. After the last resounding A-men, we emerged into the storm, which was like walking out onto the top of Mt. Washington. Snow was not falling, it was lashing.
In the car, the wind whipped the snow this way and that, as if some madman were at the controls. We inched along, unable to see anything but white. After two miles and what seemed like hours of driving, we stopped. “What are our options?” my friend Sy asked. Sy, who has stalked wild tigers and hacked her way through the Amazon jungle, is by far the most intrepid of my friends. We knew without even discussing it that reaching either of our homes in weather like this was out of the question.
“I have a friend who lives about a mile from here,” I offered.
“Let’s go,” Sy said. We dialed my friend on the cell phone but there wasn’t any answer so we left the message that we were on our way.
By now, I had my head out the rolled-down window. I couldn’t see a thing but we somehow found her house, our imagined haven. The driveway had not been plowed. We plunged in, snow cresting away from us as, tires spinning, I urged the car as far into the driveway as I could.
The house was beautifully lit with white candle lights in each of its many windows, making it look as if the house was alive with activity but this turned out to be an illusion. Our knocks on the door went unanswered. After a numbingly cold ten minutes or so, I tried the latch and the door opened. Willy, the terrier, barked loudly, which I hoped would rouse my friends. But once he knew it was me, he stopped. The kitchen was warm, which felt intensely pleasurable. Willy settled into his bed as if all was well. Sy and I looked at each other. No one seemed to be home. Or else they were sound asleep in their beds. My car was deeply buried in the snow and the storm raged. We were here to stay. “I’ve got blankets in my trunk,” I whispered. “We can sleep right here on the floor.” Sy, who had slept on more floors than I had fingers and toes, readily agreed to this plan.
Before we nestled into our makeshift beds, my friend descended the stairs. Her face was white as a sheet. If she’d had a gun, I think she would have been weilding it. Relief spreading when she recognized who we were. She had already called the police, reporting a home invasion. We talked fast to explain and as we talked, the police arrived, a clueless young man who scolded me for making him come out in this weather. “The driving is terrible. I couldn’t see where I was going! Next time, be sure to call first!” All of which left us speechless. We had called. And, obviously, the terrible driving was precisely why we were here. But my friend, now our hostess, ushered us to bedrooms where the beds were all made up as if we had been expected after all and we fell asleep to the muffled sounds of the storm and woke to more snow. After breakfast, as the sun broke through the swirling clouds, we left our storm home and, by noon, I was back home on the hill, where there was much shoveling to be done.
Edie Clark

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