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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 February 2008

March 6, 2008

Late again! Or still. I do want to tell all of you, my special subscribers, that very soon, I will be re-issuing my first book, The Place He Made, which was published in 1995. This was a memoir about my husband's death from cancer. It was published first in hardcover by Random House and later in paperback by Bantam and it sold relatively well at the time but, because of the way publishing is now structured, it went out of print in 1998. I continue to receive letters about this book from folks who have found it in second-hand stores or in libraries, and many people order the book from me. I've had a hard time filling these orders so I will be issuing a new edition, with a introduction and a new cover. The price will be $18.95. If you would like me to save you a copy, please let me know.
OK, on to this month's essay!

My Bohemian Paradise
Edie Clark

In the early part of last winter, I stacked wood in my shirtsleeves, mowed the lawn and fretted that no ice had yet come to the lakes. Even the birds were confused. For quite some time during January and February, I enjoyed watching a pair of bluebirds cavort in the brambles across the road and dart back to my porch, where they pecked away at a Christmas display of greens and red winterberries. This was the third of our disappointing winters. Boots, hats and scarves stayed in the closet all the way till February. Many here rejoiced in how easy it was, no snow to shovel, no slippery roads, no bone-chilling winds. But I, perhaps too much a contrarian, craved a good snowstorm and the creaking, squeezing noises inside this old house, provoked by a night below zero.
Perhaps I long for those sounds because itís been otherwise so quiet here. In the past year, no walls were moved, no foundations poured, no floors sanded or walls painted. The only change was the replacement of several windows in the el, which has made a big difference. Curtains no longer puff out during northeasters. I didnít realize that living with those old, thin windows, I could hear almost everything: the occasional car that passed by, the long approach of the snowplow, the crack of a hunting rifle. It was a bit like living in a tent. Now, with the new windows, the silence, always notable, is almost complete. I may not miss the cold winds that blew through the room but I do miss that closeness to the outdoors, summer and winter. Now, I actually have to go outdoors to be outdoors. In the ten years Iíve been here, the house has transformed from an ancient, drafty, seven-bedroom farmhouse to a snug one-bedroom home, flooded with sunlight.
I have one last bastion of unfinished territory, a roomy attic space under the eaves, with new light brought in by a big, south-facing dormer and a skylight. Fresh out of funds but not out of need, I determined to make this a place for family and friends to stay when they came to visit. I moved beds up there and put thick rugs on the floor. Bedsheets, pulled tight and stapled to the rafters and kneewalls, give the appearance of painted walls. A bookcase holds a raft of worn paperbacks, including A Prayer for Owen Meany, Crossing to Safety, and everything Farley Mowett ever wrote. I tacked the many Bread and Puppet posters Iíve accumulated over the years to the roof boards between the giant timbers of the old frame. Heat drifts up from a register over the cookstove so the warmest place is right next to the bed, an old cannonball four-poster my father rescued from a junk shop back in the 1940s, in anticipation of marrying my mother.
I call this my ďbohemian paradise,Ē a place where you can still smell the old wood and see the open history of the house, including the charred beams from a house fire that was quenched before it took the house and the huge opening for the original center chimney, long since removed and boarded over.
I will have to finish this room someday, add insulation and sheetrock, make it really nice, but, no hurry. Itís a bit like the weather and my contrary nature: donít make things too comfortable. It makes me uncomfortable.

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