It’s been four or five days now since a fertilizer bomb was detonated somewhere on the mountain across from ours. While the local paper (two towns away) hasn’t picked up the story yet, it was a hot topic for many people at our local country store on Sunday. Curiosity and concern were still high on Monday, but by Tuesday it was clear that fear was already losing its grip on many of us .
I’m still worried, of course. Vermont isn’t at war as far as any of us know, so a bomb is not what we’re expecting to hear at eight o’ clock at night. I am still waiting for some scrap of comforting information. Even in the absence of information, however, I’m managing to find signs that this town (whose motto is ‘Whatever happens here stays here… But nothing ever happens here’) has managed to put a serious dent in my once Olympic-caliber capacity for agonizing over every potential problem. There were two of those signs yesterday.
The first one had me trying to remember to breathe. Mother Nature had been in her paintbox the night before. After wiping her canvas clean with an inch of rain, she cooled things down. Then, under cover of night, she brought out her fattest paint brush and daubed just enough white powdery paint over the mountains to cover but not completely obscure the trees and rocks. I only noticed her work after I’d finished scraping the car and getting six-year-old Thing2 on the road to winter camp. We scaled the long icy slope of our driveway, and then turned onto the road heading towards the horse farm at the bottom of our road.
The road makes a beautiful S-curve as we get closer. A few isolated trees frame the rolling hills and the buildings of the farm perfectly, and a day doesn’t go by when I think what a perfect painting it would make. Yesterday we hit the S-curve just as low purple and white clouds were skimming the powered mountains that rise up behind the farm. It was breathtaking. I forgot, for a moment, that we were late, that my foot was still on the gas, and even that a bomb had ever gone off on the mountain across from ours.
When I recovered my breath and remembered to slow down before we hit the more adventurous part of the mud pit we call a road, I drew Thing2’s attention to the scene ahead of us. We slowly descended the hill, and the painting seemed to envelope us. Thing2 spoke first after we had passed the farm.
“Can you believe we get to live here all the time?” He asked. I couldn’t, and all my recent mutterings that we should move somewhere safer to the middle of nowhere (redundant really) shattered like dust falling with the snow.
The second sign was more subtle, but when I finally saw it, was just as powerful.
The Big Guy went in the afternoon to Hubbard Hall, our local community theatre and art center in Cambridge, NY to pick up Thing2 at his winter break workshop. Caught up in the excitement of viewing Thing2’s art projects, the nearly empty gas tank in the car slipped his mind, and they headed home. They were almost home when the gas ran out. Fortunately, a neighbor spotted them quickly and brought them the rest of the way home. The Big Guy borrowed my car to go get a can of gas for the vehicle still on the side of the road.
He was gone not five minutes when we heard a truck in the driveway. Positive he couldn’t have filled up the car that quickly, we wondered who it could be. Before I could get up from the kitchen table (my home office – very glamorous), Thing2 had gone into the mudroom to answer the door. I had forgotten to lock the outside door again, however, and I suddenly heard a deep voice talking to my son. It was another neighbor who had seen the car by the road and popped down to see if we needed help. I told him we were all set and thanked him for checking on us. Thing2 threatened to entrap him with endless cheerful banter, but the neighbor just smiled at him good-naturedly and waved goodbye to all of us.
I was not yet at the end of my work day and, forgetting to lock the door again, sat back down at the table to finish my shift. Then the phone rang. It was another neighbor from across the valley checking to see if we needed any help with the car. I gave him the same answer, thanked him and hung up. Before the phone touched the table, however, it rang again. This time it was our neighbor at the top of our driveway who had seen the car. I hung up a few minutes later, smiling and thinking that however loud one misguided kook might be, he doesn’t outnumber the ‘good guys’ in this tiny little town.
I realize it’s the same every city. The ones making the bombs – regardless of their form – are the loudest, but they aren’t the majority. They can cause havoc with your sense of peace if you let them, however. I’m still hoping for news about our incident, but by the time the Big Guy returned with my keys, I had seen the second sign. It wasn’t in the calls from caring neighbors. It was the fact that, thanks to this town, I’m slowly learning to live my life without locked doors.