Thursday, October 2, 2008

Leaving Vermont

The next morning was wine-slow and blinky, but we ate breakfast and I packed to leave. The plan was to head to New Hampshire and stop at an amazing wine store Wyn had talked about where you could get free Ch. Haut Marbuzet and we looked at maps and drank coffee quietly, weary of the previous evening's celebration. It was time to leave Wyn and Shawna's lovely home and company and head south, toward Woodstock, then home, but I had a day to kill before Woodstock.

I got in the car and drove down the hill, the gravel drive, and at the end of it, I made a financial call and decided not to go to New Hampshire. Decided to head back toward Bennington where I had spotted a motel that boasted of $35 rooms, and it was near enough to Bennington to explore the town a little more and to enjoy hiking and the view of the small lake across the road. Cash only. I liked the guy that owned the place, his hat and his moustache. "Cash only," he said, but he let me go into town to get some.

The hike lacked the beauty or views of the hike up Hogback, but it was exercise and I needed that. I stepped in mud. Later I went into town for coffee and people were gathering. A woman was chatting familiarly to several people and then she announced that she would read poetry, so I stayed in solidarity. She even read a few about central California, where I'd moved to Georgia from. Spring wildflowers and I even heard her say "Oxnard." I smiled, thought of Jackson Wheeler. She read about it as though the coastal mountains were exotic and amazing. It is. They are, but if you live there, Vermont is exotic and infinitely greener and the towns are small and Vermont seemed a liberal paradise.

I applauded the poet's efforts and went searching for something to cook in the room that night for dinner, found a nice grocery store with decent wine selection and purchased a few things for dinner, naan and a good Spanish wine and cheese and headed back out of town to make dinner (naan pan pizza and pasta and salad) and enjoy the spartan room. It had the same shower my house in Georgia had when I bought it, something plastic and cheap, suitable for summer camp. I smiled at that. It was a quiet place, a quiet night. I sipped a little of the Spanish and thought about Woodstock, about seeing Amy.


John Guzlowski said...

A woman reading poems in a small store in a small town in Vermont?

You sit there and listen. A sort of solidarity.

I had pretty much the same experience yesterday.

Linda and I drove to Chatham, Virginia, a little town north of here. It's off the main state road, 29, but a nice town. Lots of green and pre-civil war buildings.

We walked around town and had dinner. Then we found a book store. In the back, a woman was reading poems to about 30-40 people, family and friends and outsiders like Linda and me. The woman read about the local school and a mannequin that used to sit above a garage on mainstreet, and about a woman with too many cats and the trouble that caused.

And the poet read her last poem. It was a poem about her father, and how he left Chatham during the depression to find out if there was someplace he'd rather be. Chatham's a small town in the south and the depression, I guess, hit the south harder than the north. The south was still crawling out of the crater left when the civil war came spinning out of the sky and sank itself deep in the red dirt of Virginia and North Carolina and Georgia.

Anyway, the poem told us that he didn't have a job or a hope for a job, and he was hungry and lonely and he needed to find someplace other than Chatham where he could hole up until the depression ran its course.

And the poet said, he rode trains and trucks all over America looking for that hope, spent 3 years on a journey from Chatham, but at the end he came back there, because that little town was home. And there was no place like home.

I listened to this poet and I knew the truth of what my first poetry teacher Paul Carroll said, "All poets are brothers and sisters."

Marty said...

I think you teacher's right, John. We're all brothers and sisters. That would explain all the inane squabbles. Thanks for sharing the narrative. It's like that, even if the poetry isn't particularly scintillating.

George said...

I happen to know you've left Vermont. I've seen you in California, of all places. You have plenty of blogging to do.