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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 March 2007

February 24, 2007

Greetings, my friends,
The month of February usually goes by so fast, I always think of it as a blessing that helps us get through the long winter. We finally did get a great snowstorm, right on Valentine's Day. But, the rest of the winter has been eerily quiet, a lot like last winter, warm and sometimes reminiscent of life in New Jersey or North Carolina. But it's still winter. Right now it's cold, blowing fine new snow into high ghosts that run across the south field like fugitives, and my woodpile is getting low. I'm putting the finishing touches on a story about Lyme Disease for Yankee, which I've been working on for more than a year and a half. I've not worked on it steadily, but the publication date has been moved back and moved back. However, I think that they will surely run it in the upcoming July/August issue. I'm excited about it as I think it's an important story for anyone living in the Northeast -- actually, now it seems that Lyme has spread throughout the country and it's a very serious disease. I have it, so I know.
As well, I'm in the final stages of writing the manuscript for my new book, Saturday Beans and Sunday Suppers. I'm so excited about this book, which is a collection of essays, or kitchen stories, about food -- baked beans, shad, chowder, Indian pudding -- the list is very long. Each chapter is a short story followed by my favorite recipe for that dish. The book will be out in the fall. Stay tuned!
I hope you enjoy this month's column and I hope you are well and enjoying life as we slowly round the corner toward spring.
Edie

Peace Log

Living in this quiet place, I have rarely had the opportunity to call the police. Once, I called about someone hunting out of season, once about a possibly rabid fox and another time I reported young men dancing naked in the middle of the road at midnight (my parents were visiting at the time and were shocked and frightened by the spectacle. Otherwise, I would not have called.) But, according to the “police log” which appears in our weekly paper, my fellow residents have many reasons to call for help. Or assurance.
The police log is the section of the paper to which I turn first. The entries are brief, five or six lines at most, in small type, cryptic renditions of fender benders or lost wallets, a weekly sketch of law and order in our area. A longtime favorite, posted some time back, cited a car parked at the shopping center with a goat inside, the windows rolled up. It was a hot day. An officer was dispatched but by the time he arrived, the car was gone. Did the goat live or die? We will never know.
Another of my favorites was the item about a landlord who called in to ask that the police evict his tenant. The police asked the reason for the request and the man replied, “Because he’s a snot.” The police told him that there are no laws against being a snot.
We are often treated to the exact quotes, as the one above. Without that quote, we would have missed the salient detail, tenant as snot. In that report resides a short story, maybe even a novel.
Others simply enlarge my impression that it is almost absurdly safe here, maybe even comically so.
This one was listed under the heading “Road Hazard”: At 1:07 a.m. (police) found a fully intact toilet on the center line of Peterborough Street. According to police, the lid was up.
That was it in its entirety. No explanation or resolution to that whodunit. (But I liked knowing the toilet was “fully intact” and that the lid was up.)
Sometimes we are left to wonder whether it’s the person being reported or the person reporting who is out of touch with reality.
At 9:40 p.m., police responded to the shopping plaza for a report of a man walking with a light on his head. Police located the man and determined nothing was wrong.
A more recent entry recounted that a “large bong” had been found in the parking lot of a local supermarket. (For those in the dark about such things, a “bong” is a somewhat exotic pipe through which marijuana and other illegal substances are smoked.) The report included the information that the bong had a “heavy residue” and ended by saying that the police were holding the lost item at the station and the owner could come and claim it. Either the police have a sense of humor or they are clumsy detectives.
Here is one from a couple of years ago: At 4 a.m., police responded to a burglar alarm at the Bank of New Hampshire. A snowflake decoration had fallen from the ceiling and set off the motion detector alarm.
We do have robberies and we even have had a murder or two over the years. But most of what happens here is like that. May it ever be so.
--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