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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 May 2007

May 9, 2007

Greetings, friends,
It's been a very busy spring, as I've been working steadily on the new book, Saturday Beans and Sunday Suppers, which I hope to have available for sale in the fall of this year. The text is done and the design is underway. I feel so happy about this book, as, at the same time I was writing it, I was also writing a story for Yankee about Lyme Disease. The "Beans" book was a great antidote to this very dark topic. I looked forward every day to disappearing into the pleasant world of food and all the places that has taken me throughout my life. In the next little while, I will send you a short excerpt. But now both these projects are basically finished and ready to make their leap into the public.
In the meantime, here's the essay from the current issue of Yankee, which I hope you are enjoying.
I wish you all good things,
Edie

The View from Maryís Farm for May/June 2007
Graduation Day
Edie Clark

The older I get, the more I crave good strong help. In this quest, Iíve encountered some frustrations. I once hired a young man to help in the garden and after an hour or so, I looked out the window and saw him sprawled on the ground. Thinking he had hurt himself or passed out, I rushed to the scene whereupon he rose up, explaining that he was ďjust resting.Ē But that was rare. In my life since my husbandís passing, itís been my privilege to get to know a number of wonderful young people. They come to do chores and I watch them grow up. And move on.
A few years ago, my friend Mel struck a deal with me: he would come with his son, Josh, and the two of them would work together, do whatever I needed done. In return, I would put money into Joshís college fund. I canít imagine turning down such a deal. And so they began to come, mostly after Mel got off work. I had my list. Wallpaper in the back bedroom needed to be scraped off. The rowboat, which was resting in the weeds beside the hayfield, needed a coat of paint. Pruning, weeding and hacking back the bittersweet are perennials on the list.
Josh was fourteen when he first started coming to work here, even then a tall, amiable fellow, always with a smile and a certain quiet enthusiasm. Early on, another quality emerged. I felt the big rock behind the house should be surrounded by blooms rather than weeds. So I set them to digging a lily bed. As is not unusual in this terrain, they soon hit upon a rock but the more they dug, the bigger the stone became. I told them to leave it alone but Josh wanted to finish the job and so in the darkening of that spring afternoon, we left one shovel handle behind and started on another. We brought out crowbars and chocks, working like slaves on the pyramids. Finally, the grip of the earth let go and the giant heaved up, big as a car engine, and Josh rolled it triumphantly into the woods. That was a good introduction to Josh, tenacious, and patient in his work.
Each year, Josh grew taller and more interesting to talk with. On their first day here last spring, we walked down to the raspberry patch which is in a particularly soggy area. High school graduation was soon and in the fall he would be heading off to the college of his choice. And so there was a certain amount of levity between us and, on my part, a touch of sadness as I knew these times would soon end. Josh set to the chore with his usual zest. I identified the raspberry plants for him, as some of them were completely obscured by weeds. With his gloved hands, he set aside the canes and pulled out the mats of thatch and pigweed, which clung to dense soil. We tilled in peat moss and loam and, as the sun began to set, tucked the canes back into their (temporarily) weed-free bed. I canít think of too many things that are more satisfying than a freshly turned garden bed, and this particular chore gave that good feeling of new potential. Something like a young man with his whole life ahead of him.

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