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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 April 2005

April 1, 2005

The Cruelest Month
Whoever it was that decided that April would be the national month of taxes made a wise choice in that, in general, this is a pretty good month, starting off with the fool’s day and the flowers rising, and sometimes even including Easter, time of new beginnings. That leaves just a little thing there in the middle about paying up. Some of us are so busy with the spring that we hardly notice.
But here in New Hampshire, we tend to talk about taxes all year long, especially in election years when yet another group of intrepid candidates steps forward and carefully words their campaign promises so that they not include the dreaded words “income tax.” New Hampshire is one of only a very few states that does not tax a person’s income. (Or, God forbid, its liquor.) So they think up other ways to extract money from the populace.
One of the things they came up with is known colloquially as the “view tax.” It is assumed, I suppose, that anyone who has a view must have enough money to be able to pay extra for that privilege. I would never argue that it isn’t a privilege to have a view. The main reason I moved here to Mary’s farm was because of this spectacular view of Mount Monadnock. But I’m not sure how they came to the conclusion that having an unobstructed view of the mountain is a taxable advantage. Most of our taxes pay for our children to go to school. The rest goes to keep our roads in shape as well as to operate our recycling center and other matters of the town and state. Not all of us who have a view paid an enormous amount to get it. In some cases, people have inherited homes or their farms. Some bought the places years ago when a view was considered to be just part of the rest of the landscape. Many people have moved away because of these bleeding sums. Conversely, in an effort to avoid the dreaded “view tax,” some of my neighbors have let trees grow up to obscure that expensive view or one has even gone to the extreme of building a house which does not include windows that look at the mountain, hoping this would avoid the levy. To my mind, it is the tax that ought to go, not the view.
In my case, I bought the place for a reasonable price, knowing that the buildings on which this “view property” were sitting would require an immense sum to bring them into the 21st century. The farm itself was oriented toward the barn, the center of all activities. The barn was behind the house, eyes closed to the mountain. Most of the renovations I’ve done here have been designed to turn the house around to face the mountain.
In my time here, the mountain has required no updating or renovating. It is there, just as it was when I bought the place. But my taxes are not. They have gone sky-high. My income, unfortunately, has plummeted since the time of my arrival here. Isn’t this the way it goes? I suppose. But in this particular case, we cannot throw our tea into the sea, as did our forebears in Boston. I believe in everyone paying their fair share of taxes but the view is nothing that can be carried, nothing that can be consumed, quantified, held up, paraded around, driven or otherwise used. And heaven knows it does not send children to school. This inestimable view of our wonderful mountain is an intangible, a great gift, as is the sunlight and the air we breathe, the moon that rises to my east and the spectacular shooting stars of a summer’s night. All it does is provide us with the kind of peace and contentment the rest of the world so badly needs.
Edie Clark

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