The View from Mary's Farm for March 2007
January 1, 1970Greetings, 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.
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.