A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 009

Baby Talk: Bill-The-Beardless and Kathy Hussey are pleased to announce the legal adoption of a little girl they have elected to call Tamara. According to my dictionary this is the name given to a mixture of cinnamon, cloves and coriander. It is not without precedent to name people after herbs and spices...think of Basil, Ginger and Rosemary... and who knows, in Thyme she may become a Sage. Additional useful information: In Farmington, Hussey means a mountain.

Dogfight At Bean's Barn: Last week Marshal Colwell got word that a pack of mean and ornery critters had nested up in old man Bean's barn, and from there, were ranging out over the countryside in search of easy prey. (Rotten food at the dump, mostly). The marshal left town at a gallop and was soon on the slopes of Chesley Mountain, where the Hole-In-The-Barn gang hung out. Clutching his trusty rifle, Colwell hitched his '65 Chevy to a post, and cautiously approached from downwind.

Before he could say "Come out with your paws up!" an alarm call of two woofs had been given and the entire pack of dogs raced out of the barn and into the attack. As the leader, a black German shepherd, leapt off the ground, heading for the throat, our brave marshal plugged him full of lead, and the rest of the varmints scattered into the woods. (Insert clip of Johnny Horton singing "Big Dog Officer.")

Next day, the marshal got word that the remnants of the gang had re-grouped and so I accompanied him (walked 10 paces behind him, actually) back to the barn. Three dogs took off into the forest as we approached and a fourth paused to snarl and then lit out up the mountain. We crept into the barn, rifle and pitchfork at the ready. The only sounds apart from the sweep of easy wind and downy flake, were the tiny cries and whimpers of puppies from underneath the barn flooring. "Doggone it!" said the marshal.

Old man Bean (Hey, what's this old stuff? I'm only 80) appeared and was briefed with the situation. "Can't do nothing, I guess, till those puppies get big enough for the bitch to lead them out," he said sympathetically.

"This barn," he added, taking advantage of an audience, "is 107 feet long, and dates back to the 18th century. Fellers from New York come to see it." He pointed out the spot where a cow had nudged him into the milk slops, over 60 years ago, and the wooden seat his father sat on to haul timber into Rochester, with a team of horses. He showed us wooden shackles and cowpokes, strange devices to keep cattle from breaking through fences.

Mr. Bean has donated many artifacts to Milton Farm Museum and would be a fountain of knowledge to anyone compiling a Foxfire book. I asked him if he liked switchel, an old-time drink of the New Hampshire hayfields, made from vinegar, molasses and ginger, with which I had almost poisoned the population last Farmington Hay Day.

"That awful stuff? Nope!" said Bean emphatically, wincing at the memory. His father had like it, though, and he had lived to be 91. Can that be mere coincidence?

Correction: Mrs. Proulx called to point out that there was an inaccuracy in last week's report concerning their poisoned water. They, themselves, met the motel bill for the month of January, not R.C. Mooney's insurance company, as stated.

Selectmen's meeting of Jan. 26, 1985

A quiet group of orderly citizens trickled into the court room for the start of the meeting. Gradually all the seats were occupied. People stood at the back of the room and peered in from the hallway. Pool players, kept-fit ladies, last week's chess winner, cribbage men and dance kids, ball-bouncers and ordinary parents, all gathered to express their support for the Community Center.

Hardened attenders like Percy Day and Dale Sprague reeled back in exaggerated astonishment as they entered the meeting. "To what do we owe this pleasure?," asked Selectman Plante congenially. Silence! No one wished to speak first, especially those who didn't come to such rarefied affairs as selectmen's meetings, and that included nearly everyone. Speeches were soon under way, however, from the benches and from Plante and Selectman Kenyon, all with the same basic theme that the Community Center had been the best thing since sliced bread. Enough said.

It will be interesting to see if a few unfortunate remarks can do as much as that Rev. Jesse Jackson for voter registration. After a grand shuffling out by those of the assembled public, who had come to make their point, business continued its normal meandering path, a slow summer stream after the spring floods. Dale Sprague defended his water and sewage budget estimates for 1985. It was agreed to put money aside for an infiltration study though quite how much became obscured by the gray mists of debate. A truck was definitely eliminated, and a corresponding increase made in the provision for vehicle maintenance.

During this time, latecomers for the Community Center (defense of) Rally respectfully tiptoed in, looking like people who had just missed a bus and wondering if there would be another. They listened to Dale announce that there were at present 30 non-working (broken?) water meters in town, including that for the Town Library. They shook sympathetic heads as Selectman Plante, describing the six inch mains in Central Street as not big enough, said, "During a fire drill the folks in Trotting Park can't get water enough for a cup of tea."

Next up was Percy Day, whom (with all respect) I have difficulty in understanding. A strong regional accent has got to fight its way past a briar pipe and struggle through a thick beard. To be fair, Percy can't understand a Scottish brogue either, and we are pretty much reduced to nodding at each other.

Percy, struggling by with an aging fleet of vehicles, was hoping for a new truck in the budget. Now and again I deciphered a word and my notes read as follows:-...5 or 6 grand...14 grand...gas...main truck...RD...450...bare engine...the 72…Ford…the 76...the mystery...RD...450...charts with arrows…hate to give up new truck, but...hand dangling...all is lost…go along with it...gas engine...repairs…drop truck...sympathy.

Cultural event: The Goodwin Library 2nd Annual Art Exhibition ran from Jan. 27 to Feb. 3, and local artists contributed 25 works, well up on last year. Before reviewing this praiseworthy collection, I should point out that my credentials as an art critic are impeccable. Though not actually an artist myself, I once had a girlfriend who was an artist's model. In Paris one time, I almost visited the Louvre, and in Glasgow, was an affiliated member of The Print Studio. I admit that the monthly cheese and wine openings, free, courtesy of the Scottish Arts Council, were a considerable factor in my decision to cough up the annual $5, but it was that way with everyone.

There was no cheese and wine at the Goodwin opening, incidentally, a fact which organizers may want to keep in mind for the 3rd Annual exhibition. Thirteen different artists were represented by works that reflected country life, in the main. Flowers and birds and sylvan streams, snow scenes and deer. The U.S.S. Bunker Hill, plowing through the foam, looked strangely out of place. Kurt Sprague's dramatic vegetables and Carole Day's jovial water color pigs caught the eye.

Elizabeth Nute may never do for sheep what Stubbs did for horses, but the faces of her Suffolks are painted with a careful affection that suggests these animals are numbered in her inner circle of friends. (I'm a Cheviot black-faced ewe man, myself.) Fred Collay's Snow Scene with Wheel Barrow had a pleasant color balance. The influence of Anna Richards was less obvious in his work than it was in many of her other five students, whose combined contributions form the backbone of the exhibition.

I confess to being surprised by the overall standard of the paintings which, when taken as a group, would certainly be ranked above those exhibited at Rochester Fair. The only suggestion I would venture is that perhaps, for next year, someone could attempt a subject that records life in Farmington as it is now. A sort of historical record. Men repairing a culvert. People slogging it out in a shoe factory. Kids staring at M.T.V. In this show Art avoided People. It causes People to avoid Art.

Latest Score: Dogs 8 - Dog Officer 6... (two points awarded to the marshal for that German shepherd... see above)

Feb. 5, 1985

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