A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 316

See the front o' battle lour

FARMINGTON - I dropped in on old Mr. Ramgunshoch, last Thursday evening, to give him the news that the adjoining town of New Durham had decided to use 21st century technology to update its tax maps, and in so doing, discovered, via aerial photography, that centuries old stone boundary markers on the New Durham-Farmington line were in the wrong position.

The upshot was that New Durham had laid claim to a 45-foot wide strip of Farmington, and consequently awarded an acre of the latter town’s land to a New Durham property owner.

"What do you think of those apples, Mr. R.?" I asked of the aging Scots immigrant, before I noticed that his dining room table was covered with books on military strategy and a large-scale topographical map of west Meaderboro Road, into which colored pins and small flags had been inserted.

"Oh," I said, before he could answer my inquiry. "It seems you’ve heard already."

Quickly changing the subject, before he could launch into one of his famous diatribes, I asked about the deep linear excavation that had appeared on River Road opposite his house.

"That is an engineering marvel. Hats off to Joel Moulton and his road crew," said Ramgunshoch.

"But what exactly is it?" I pressed.

"It’s a canal! It is Farmington’s economic future. Manufacturing is dead and so we are switching over to tourism. This is the first part of a watery network that will carry barges packed with sightseers all over town. We aim to become to the Venice of the Occident," said Ramgunshoch, and broke, unexpectedly, into song:


Low bridge, everybody down!

Low bridge, we’re coming to a town!

You’ll always know your neighbor,

You’ll always know your pal,

If you’ve ever navigated on the River Road canal.


"Are you sure those are low bridges? They could be high culverts," I suggested.

"They’re bridges," responded Ramgunshoch, heatedly. "Look at that beautiful stonework. Moulton is a master craftsman. That’s why we need his services urgently up on the Meaderboro Road line. We only have hours to construct our earthwork defenses. A moat running down toward Ten Rod Road is a must, and lines of trenches, here, and here."

He jabbed more small blue flags into his war map, and launched into a couple of verses of an old Scottish song more often associated with the Battle of Bannockburn, fought against the English in 1314.


Now's the day, and now's the hour:

See the front o' battle lour,

See approach New Durham’s power

Chains and slaverie!


By oppressions woes and pains,

By your sons in servile chains,

(Moulton is yer man for drains)

And we shall be free


"So you are in the process of raising a militia, then. Have you been watching reruns of Braveheart, by any chance?" I asked, suspiciously.

"There’s a lot to be learned from that movie," he retorted. "For example, the scene on the demoralization of the enemy can and shall be replicated."

"You mean that bit where a line of Highlanders turned their backs, raised their kilts, and mooned the English?"

"Exactly. Now we have two good men living right up there on Meaderboro Road who could carry out that important task in the face of the New Durham invasion - bagpipers Pat Boyle and Hiram Watson," said Ramgunshoch. "As for manning the trenches, I am confident that the Selectmen will step forward. Maybe not the Budget Committee, though. They’re moaning about no line item for defense of the town, and forget the Planning Board. They’ll ask to see excavation permits and table everything for a month, when time is of the essence."

He broke into song again:


Wha’s for Farmtown’s land and law,

Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,

Hiram Watson, Boyle and a’,

Let them follow me!


"Stirring stuff, Mr. R.," I admitted. "One assumes you will be broadcasting this song on Channel 26 as part of a recruiting drive?"
"Indeed," he replied. "And appealing for military equipment to repulse the anticipated advance of enemy back-hoes from New Durham, sent to capture and relocate the boundary stone."

"There’s a 4-H kid over in Strafford who makes scale models of trebuchets from Popsicle sticks. If you ask, I’m sure he could knock up a life-size contraption," I joked. "And to arm the sling, maybe the Venture Crew can fashion some devastating balls from that manure heap out there in your garden."

Oh, no! A crazed gleam had appeared in Ramgunshoch’s eyes.

"Great idea," he yelled, and stabbed another blue flag into the map where he imagined the trebuchet best be placed to rain down manure on a hostile convoy presumably hung up, temporarily, by Joel Moulton’s moat.

Off he went once more:


Lay the proud usurpers low!

Tyrants fall in every foe!

Compost bombards yon back-hoe!

Let us do or dee!


It was clear my presence was making him more insane by the minute, and so I politely took my leave of Ramgunshoch, on a promise that I would keep him up to date with any new developments.

I was back less than 12 hours later.

"Great tidings, Mr. R. New Durham’s mapping company has just reassessed the ancient boundary markers and declared them to be valid. Peace as been declared!"

Mr. Ramgunshoch looked very disappointed.


November 15, 2009


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