A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 203

The Winding Path guerillas

If you go booning the woods today,

You’re sure of a big surprise.

If you go mudding tote roads today,

You’d better protect your eyes;

For every tree that ever there was,

Is wearing a dazzling ribbon because

Today’s the day they sharpen their saws

On Poor Farm.


You can blame it on the demise of the East-West Highway. Ever since that promising transportation link fell victim to 19th century horse-and-buggyism, authorities have been counter-attacking with upgrade plans for existing roads.

And now comes Farmington’s town administrator, John Scruton, ever a man in the vanguard, who has prepared a blueprint for government forces to re-capture Poor Farm Road from the clutches of a group of wilderness fanatics known as the Winding Path Guerillas.

Final approval for the assault on enemy positions along this dirt track was granted last week by the Planning Board, the same august body which once sought to ban peacocks from downtown lawns and regulate the dimension of muffin mix signs at Bud’s Star Market.

There are three Justifications why road crew troops will be dispatched with fire, sword and dynamite to liberate Poor Farm Road. The first, says John, is that of Liability. Once upon a time, it seems, the King (a sort of town administrator) could do no wrong, but this tenet now is being eroded by courtly judgments. Why, just a few years ago, the City of Dover was held responsible for a crummy piece of sidewalk, so imagine the risk to the King, sorry, I mean John Scruton, posed by Poor Farm Road school kids on a road with no shoulders.

The second Justification is Public Safety, for the road with no shoulders still has dangerous limbs on either side and, in addition to a couple of cruiser accidents, there has been a Mysterious Incident in this locality. Readers may recall that the bucket loader once was stolen from the town shed and dumped on Poor Farm Road all on a snowy evening. Yet police found no footprints leading from the cab! Reason enough to sweep away the Winding Path irritants, I say.

The third reason for blazing Poor Farm Expressway is that page 37 of the town’s master plan says it oughta be done. These wise words were penned by an olde planning board on which John served, although he is fairly sure someone else drafted the Poor Farm Road bit. Anyway, the Moving Finger writ, and having writ, moved on, leaving modern crusaders to carry out the Word of the Good Plan.

And so, the current Planning Board has signed a death warrant for trees obstructing the advance of town troops along the scenic road. These hapless life forms (the trees, not the road crew) have been stigmatized with red ribbons and all too soon savage chainsaw teeth will be ripping into their innocent little trunks. Meanwhile a few, luckier trees have been Scrutonized and spared. They shiver nervously under the protection of yellow or blue bands, while awaiting the imminent and terrible advance of Hackett’s Marauders with excavator, gelignite and dump truck.

Farmington Corner can disclose that a three-pronged attack is planned on Poor Farm Road. Authorities intend to assault the brook crossing section, pound the nine-foot wide notch with explosive, and form a beachhead near Anderson’s Peak. All traces of resistance will be removed and dumped on property the town previously captured on Ten Rod Road through a non-payment of taxes encircling maneuver.

Once these three areas are secured, says John, the road crew will turn its guns onto the long hill leading up to Meaderboro Road, and after this part of Poor Farm is subdued, a general mopping up operation will take place along the road’s two-mile length. The entire campaign is expected to last three years.

But, resisters could yet launch a counter-offensive by seeking to have Poor Farm Road’s central sector reclassified as a Class 6 Road and, in the meantime as a stalling tactic, desperate tree-huggers may bind themselves to the trunks of doomed oak and maple in defiance of the chainsaws. Just last week one of the Winding Path Guerilla leaders, Carol Borg, was seen staggering around with massive lengths of chain. Hmmm! And don’t underestimate the determination of another expressway opponent, Jeannie Blinkinsop, a Seabrook nuclear power station veteran. Watch this space.

The Second Front

Perhaps scenting victory on Poor Farm Road, government forces have re-opened a second front by giving Royce Hodgdon until Oct. 26 to re-reduce his acreage of stoves and freezers. Maybe he can lend a few loads to the Winding Path Guerillas to be used as roadblocks and barricades. Anyway, Royce is bubbling with confidence.

"We’ll make the deadline easy," he smiles last week, "unless …" He broke off to chug thoughtfully on a Bud.

October 22, 1992

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