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Edie at home in her kitchen.

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The View from Mary's Farm

Message from Edie Clark/Mary's Farm, May 2010

May 3, 2010

Greetings, friends,
I've just posted my blog for this week (www.edieclark.com/blog) which makes remark on this strange and changeable weather. Now this, along with the announcement that in July of this year, a new book will be published, "States of Graces: Encounters with Real Yankees," a collection of profiles I have written over the years, with updates for each articles. I'm spent the past few months putting this together. These folks are so inspiring, I've been lost in their lives, full of quiet passion. I'll keep you posted on when this book might be available.
Thanks so much! Here's the essay for May/June
Edie.

Return to the Old Country

I didn’t come out of the oven here, as the old folks like to say. I am originally from New Jersey. Growing up, visiting my New England relatives, I vowed to one day make this place my home. And, soon enough after college, I did, pushing off from the shores of the Old Country, arriving here eager to pledge allegiance to the promising New World of New England. I’ve never looked back.

Until last May. The high school I went to in northern New Jersey was a small girls’ school, only 28 of us in our graduating class. As if cooperating with my desire to leave it all behind, in the early 1970s, the school merged with a nearby boys’ school and moved to its larger campus in another town. Essentially, the school as we knew it ceased to exist. As a result, our class had never held a reunion. Then, one of the few classmates I’d kept up with died. Though she had lived in London most of her adult life, her funeral took place in our hometown. I attended and reconnected with a few others from our class who were also there. Over coffee after the service, we wondered: where was everyone else? What happened to us all? None of us knew anything about any of our old friends. We were such a small school, there was a time when we were just like one big family all in one big old house of a school. The schoolmarms were our daytime mothers, encouraging us, scolding us and, generally, watching out for us. I viewed it all as if through a thick fog.

Then and there, we hatched a plan for a reunion. When we returned home, we searched the internet for our old friends. And found them all, discovering along the way that two more members of our class had passed away. All from cancer. So what if it was not a banner year, such as our 50th? It had been 43 years since we strode down the grass lawn in our white, wedding-style dresses to receive our diplomas. Time to gather.
The reunion took place the following year on a weekend in May. Sixteen of us attended, some flying in from Oregon, California, Wisconsin, while others simply drove over from a few towns away. Several still lived in the vicinity of the old school and offered to host us. We had dinners together, lunches, brunches and we hired a little school bus to trundle us around to various places we remembered so fondly. The fog began to clear. The din on board that bus could have drowned out the roar of a jetliner on take-off. We were the Merry Pranksters, together again to remember things as small as passing notes in the back of the classrooms (most of us) and as amazing as finagling into Paul McCartney’s hotel room when he was on tour (three of us). Since then, we were discovering, we had become such diverse women as librarians, a Green Peace activist and architect, innkeeper, artist, musician, writer, teacher, lawyer, champion equestrian, designer, data analyst, real estate agent, businessperson, and, of course, mother. We were no longer frozen into the photos of our yearbook. We had lived lives, without each other, for better or worse. It was all a bit like those reunions we read about of siblings who haven’t seen each other since childhood.

We’d all lived in many different places, near and far. Most of us had married and most of us had children and grandchildren. Many of us had lost our parents or were dealing with the difficulties of our parents’ last years. Some had lost husbands and brothers. Many of us had experienced divorce, some have survived cancer and other difficult illnesses. Many paths had led us to where we were that weekend. Being together again, it seemed that no matter what we had been through, here were our old friends, just as they were, still there to share with, to remember with, to laugh with, even to cry with. Like family, we knew each other so well, we shared so much at a certain time in our lives, we had traveled so far but never so far that we could not come back together again. And recover those bonds so very quickly. I was never so enriched as I was to rediscover all my lost sisters. They were all missing pieces that I didn’t know I had lost.

On my way home to New Hampshire, I thought about all of this. I have lived my whole adult life in this very satisfying place and consider it my home. In my mind, the Old Country, like my school, seemed to have vanished and yet, on my journey back into my past, I discovered that the places of our origin never go away, but rather, they continue on without you. The trip home is never so hard as the one away. I really don’t know why that was such a revelation. But it was.









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