Still sheltering in Vermont. Winter has dissolved into spring and summer is on our doorstep.
Thanks to Zoom, we have discovered new ways to get together during the Cov19 Pandemic.
My Amherst writing group meets weekly, and continues to share exciting new work. Congratulations to Eileen Kennedy who has shared with us drafts of her upcoming Chapbook, Touch My Head Softly which is being published next year by Finish Line Press. Here is a link to her recent reading (via Zoom, of course): Amherst Arts Night Plus. We are all anxiously awaiting Jane's book, Maven Reaches Mars: Home Poems and Space Probes in Four Fascicles, an ambitious compilation of her life's work.
Here in Vermont, I have joined up with two other novelists I met at the Green Mountain Writers Conference. Each of us is at work on a novel and we "meet" weekly for feedback on our (very different) novels. Caren McVicker has written a delightful blog entry discussing our process. Read it here: Caren's blog.
I thoroughly enjoyed the on-line book club through Restless Readers and the Jones Library this week. We discussed Passing, by Netta Larson., a fascinating novel about two women during the Harlem Renaissance. I even saw a few familiar faces against the backdrop of their living rooms.
And when all else fails, Zoom cocktail hours are the perfect get-together at the end of the day, especially with wines hand picked by Joel Mitchel of Beekman Wine & Liquors . But first, I need to get today's walk in. The hummingbirds are back!!!
It’s St. Patrick’s Day and snow is falling outside my window. Day #4 of social distancing. The four states where I have lived are on the top of the virus outbreak charts.
My husband and I start our isolation as a negotiation.
If you cancel our date with A&B, I say, I’ll cancel with C&D. Both couples are more social than we were, and the possibility that they might have contracted the virus was worrisome. In retirement, our conversations too often center on doctor’s visits, elective surgery, and physical therapy, but our friends emphasize their healthy lifestyles, their resilience. None of them accept the tagline “most vulnerable,” but the guidelines continue to lump us all in, so we cancel our social engagements.
If you don’t go to Planet Fitness, I say, I won’t go to yoga. These are bigger sacrifices. Both of us need to keep moving, or we get ragged at the edges.
The Chinese student my husband tutors cancels their meet up. Be well, Mr. Lew. She e-mails him in English he has yet to polish.
In a flurry of emails, my book club tries to figure out how we will discuss Faulkner, but the retired academicians are not familiar with social networking sites that will facilitate a live discussion of Absalom, Absalom so the e-mail trail goes cold.
My husband throws down the trump card: maybe we should go to Vermont and wait this out.
With a wisp of collusion, my son texts: you shouldn’t be around my kids. Why don’t you go up to Vermont?
What choice do I have? Everybody who knows me knows Vermont is my happy place. Our modest cabin with its pine planked walls and windows facing the Green Mountains is cozy and comfortable. The wood stove heats the house to a cozy 70 degrees and the cats love to stretch out on the stove rug, baking themselves in the heat.
So here I am and now Phil Scott, the VT governor, laments the second homeowners who have flocked to Vermont to escape the pandemic, one half of the positive tests administered in the state. A drain on our resources, he says.
Blindsided, Trumps says. We knew this would happen; the scientists reply. You’ll wake up one morning, our president says, and it will be over.
We aren’t quibbling yet, but it’s inevitable. My husband and I agree on a schedule. One week at a time, we say. We’ll stay seven days, two weeks at most. Now the governors say it could be months. The schools have closed.
Social distancing comes easily to me, I told an acquaintance at the outset. A lie I begin to see through.
In front of the fire, we cling to our devices, quoting outbreak statistics. I share sites with my son that might entertain his children. Even Trump seems scared now, and the cities where I have lived are locking down one by one. Looking at the outbreak map, I see a map my life in gray circles.
Seattle, my birthplace, is the first to skid to a stop. Every summer of my childhood I visited my grandparents, first at the summer home on Bainbridge Island, and later in an over-55 apartment building in the shadow of the newly erected space needle. Now the elderly there are dying, locked into nursing homes and hospices, their families waving through outside windows.
San Francisco and Santa Clara county, where I was raised, the next to go. Locked down, everyone working from home. (WFH, my son texts.) The streets are empty, a former student of my husband e-mails. I image the nouveau riche tapping away, their children pulling at their sleeves. Daddy, I’m bored. Mommy, she hit me. All the restless energy threatening to go ballistic.
New York City follows, the magnet that drew me in my twenties, where standing elbow to elbow is a basic survival tool. The streets slowly empty, and the subways slow. The national news shows a high school orchestra playing its cancelled concert in Times Square, and I think, why aren’t these children five feet apart? The outbreak there starts in the suburbs, a lawyer in the bridge and tunnel crowd from Westchester infecting half a dozen people before he ends up in critical care.
New Jersey, the bedroom communities where we raised our son, follows, always in the shadow of New York. Teaneck residents are instructed not to leave their homes as the outbreak spreads exponentially. The pandemic cannot be stopped now; they are trying to smooth the curve.
Next on the list, Massachusetts, where my husband and I retired, lured by the open spaces and dynamic academic communities. Here, a scientific meeting at a Boston hotel seeds the spread, the attendees returning to their communities infected, communicable, and coughing. So far, no one has died, but we know that will be next.
So, what choice to I have but to watch the snowflakes fall? Phil Scott will have to understand. We’ve paid property taxes here for over 15 years, so in the, hopefully unlikely, event that I tap into the state’s resources, he’ll have toforgive me. In the meantime, I have a treadmill, a stack of books, and the Kripalu cookbook.
Unprecedented, the reporters chime. Wall Street panics and churches go online. I’m afraid when my husband kisses me after a trip to the post office. I ask him not to go to the dump.
Massachusetts Governor Baker warns: If everybody treats this like an extended spring break, we all will suffer.
We arrived when skiers were still sliding down Mt. Snow. Now the resorts have closed, giving visitors less than 24 hours to head home. We take our daily walk; the dirt roads are quiet. Only the chickadees sing. And even when we see a lone walker, we keep our distance.
I don’t want Vermont high on that list. But we’re all in this together. Already, I miss welcoming hugs from my neighbors, the warmth of a community that rallied after storm Irene and gathers at Town Hall for intimate concerts. The partnership between locals and flatlanders in Vermont is as much a staple as cheddar cheese or maple syrup.
Next weekend the sugar houses hold their annual open houses. I suppose these too will be cancelled.
Hopefully, we will inhale the sweet aroma, even from a distance.
Please join us...
On September 17, at 7p.m. at the Wardsboro Public Library, Kathryn Holzman will read from her recently published chapbook, Flatlanders, followed by refreshments and a book signing.
Wardsboro Public Library170 Main Street
Wardsboro, VT 05355
United States802-896-6988; wardsborovals.state.vt.us
Another fabulous year at the Green Mountain Writers Conference at Mountaintop Resort in Chittenton, Vermont. Thanks to Yvonne Daly, Liz Inness-Brown (who ran awesome fiction intensive workshop), Verandah Porche, and all the other inspiring presenters and participants.
Congratulations Helen and Yeah!!! Wardsboro
From the Bucketville News, November 2018
100 FOR YOU AND 100 FOR ME
BY NANCY DAWSON
After meeting at the puzzle table in the Wardsboro Public Library, I had the pleasure of inter-viewing Helen Eddy of Stratton whose name was drawn as winner of books for herself and Wardsboro Public Library. She is a lovely, soft-spoken lady who speaks with a hint of an English accent. This is her story:
This summer Jill Dean, the Library Director, announced that the Vermont Public Broadcasting System was asking their listeners to vote online for their all-time favorite book which DID NOT appear on the PBS list of 100 books from their “Great American Read” program. The voter was also asked to list their favorite library. A prize of all 100 books listed was being offered to the winner of a drawing with another set of 100 books to the winners’ favorite library.
With this news Helen Eddy cast her one-time vote for her book of choice “A Gentleman from Moscow “ and of course listed the Wardsboro Public Library as her library. Admittedly she remarked, “I never win anything”, and therefore thought no more of it.
Then she received a call from Scott
McMillian at VPBS telling her she won the drawing and that she and the Wardsboro Public Library were the recipient of 100 books each. At that she exclaimed “what a wonderful thing to happen for such a small library”. Scott replied, “You may be small, but you are mighty!” Meaning, so many people from the Wardsboro Public Library fol-lowed the voting instructions, thus increasing the libraries chances at the drawing, and she cast the winning vote throughout Vermont.
Helen is an avid reader and is so pleased with this prize for the library, herself, and most especially her granddaughter who now loves to read. She will have the added gratification of knowing that she can provide her granddaughter with more books of her choice. Thank you, Helen, for your readership and your constant presence and support of the library.
Just back from the 2018 Writers Conference. Thanks to Ann Green, talented students and fellows, Salvatore Scibona who helped me with my manuscript, and Lis Harris for her riveting class in Non Fiction. Most all, a shout out to my fellow attendees for their enthusiasm and delightful sense of humor. Maybe it was the playwrights, maybe it was the Brits, but I haven't laughed so much in years. Kudos, Kathryn
A few shots of Marianne Gambaro's book party
introducing her chapbook from Finishing Line Press,
Do NOT Stop for Hitchhikers
Did you get your copy yet?
News and activities from our writers and community.