Dear Milk Streeter,
Summer is here. On weekends, my neighbor Doug rides a Harley up to Granville to Jen’s Pit Stop for a burger or fried fish sandwich. Jack, Tom’s beagle, got frisky in the good weather and escaped from his pen. He was quickly caught by Tom’s other dog, a black Labrador, Cam, who pinned him down like an older brother. (Cam just waits with Jack squashed underneath him until Tom shows up with a leash.) The full canopy of leaves has blossomed so the woods have turned dark and hallowed. Small apples have blossomed on the old growth trees in the upper Le Shane pasture. Corn fields were planted late this year due to cool wet weather but the plants are starting to get some good growth. And it’s time to head over to the Battenkill Valley Creamery for homemade Mint Chocolate Chunk cones.
There have been a few changes in town over the years. The two-room schoolhouse was closed and turned into the town clerk’s office about 20 years ago but we still have two post offices for a town of 930 people. The country store seems to be on life support; a friend of mine keeps a stack of Styrofoam coffee cups on his backseat in case the store runs out, which they do. Gas is a hit or miss proposition but they try keep stocked with cigarettes and beer, the two main commodities. But the small library is still running, the three churches in town (Congregational, Methodist, and the Church of Christ) maintain their congregations, the volunteer firehouse is well-manned, and Skipper’s road crew is still doing a fine job.
Doug and I went through my barn the other day to see what could be thrown out. Old bicycles, No Hunting signs, rusted grills, a cast-iron stove, cheap collapsible lawn chairs, archery targets, paint cans, tools, a compressor, band equipment, kindling, two motorcycles, tool boxes, and, upstairs, a pool table, old furniture, a few odd rugs, sofas, and stuff in boxes that is unmarked. Doug made a few suggestions about what could be thrown out and I decided that it was all essential for a happy life. He’ll try again next year.
He told me one of his favorite Vermont stories. A guy was standing under a light and his friend asked, “What are you doing?” He answered, “Well, I’m looking for my watch.” His friend responded, “Where did you lose it?” He said, “Over there.” His friend, confused, asked, “Well, why are you looking for it over here?” He answered, “Because the light is better!”
Caroline, my second daughter, is running the maple syrup operation at Two Pigs Farm. Had a pretty good year with 850 gallons of finished syrup. She’s in the woods this summer to remove and replace lines, clear out dead trees, and get ready for the 2019 season. Working in the woods these days is risky with deer ticks. Long socks, high boots, and a good spray of Permethrin on outer clothing is recommended.
Hathaway’s Drive-In is still in operation down in North Hoosick (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is up next). Church suppers are popular in summer—roasted pork, green Jell-O salad, mashed, and maple sundaes for dessert. Plus the usual events: Revolutionary War reenactments, old car rallies, square dances where we shuck the oyster, and old-timey bands that play Sugar Hill, Lizard in The Spring, and Li’l Liza Jane. The opening of Sugar Hill goes like this: “If you want to get your eye knocked out, If you want to get your fill, If you want to get your head cut off, Just go to Sugar Hill.” Always found those lyrics curious.
As our town heads into the 21st century, we still talk about the Butler sisters who traded their one set of false teeth every Saturday night, the woman who buried her husband standing straight up, the town outlaw who left a dead cow on a neighbor’s lawn just to send a message, and rumors of murders in town in the old days, the bodies buried up in Beartown.
We may have a new schoolhouse but it seems as if the past is always just around the corner.