Go It Alone

Broom corn before the rain
Broom corn before the rain

The rain began in the evening hours. It was soft and uncertain at first, then gathered in the dark, and by early morning was driving through the opened window just above my head. Small slaps of water woke me from a deep slumber, and for a few minutes I just lay there, feeling the rain against my face, the cats pressed against my leg, the lyrics from Isbell’s song Go It Alone playing over and over in my sleep-softened mind.

Find me a place
With salt on the roads
I’ll do what I’m told, buy what I’m sold again.

Summer is over, the edges of the days coming closer together. The leaves are turning fast now, soon to wither and drop. The roads will be slick with them.



The Smell of the Late Summer Air


Every morning around 8 or 8:30 you drive past the old farmhouse that sits tight to the road. Sagging porch along the front, cushioned chair, an old chest freezer with two old chainsaws sitting atop it. Old, old, old. Across the road, to your left, a small herd of cows, Jerseys mostly, heads bent to the ground in search of food. It is late in the grazing season, the grass shorn low by all those big cow teeth. On a few of the recent unseasonably warm mornings, you’ve spotted the wife sitting in the cushioned chair, reading. What she’s reading, you’d like to know and you think of stopping to ask, but of course do not.

A few miles down the road, you pass another farm. Again, not prosperous. At this one, the front door is always open. Not usually, not often, not frequently, but always, and you wonder at what point the change of season will compel the closure of the door. There is no screen and you think of the flies. Must be something to behold. Sometimes, you can see a man sitting in a chair just inside the opening. Watching the world go by, you guess. He doesn’t return your wave.

You get an email from a friend, says all the prime farms in his area are being bought up by “the rich kids.” They’re buying into the good life and instagram’ing the shit out of it is how he puts it (he’s always had a way with words. He’s always exaggerated, too). He sends you a link to an account, and you hover over it for just a second, but you don’t take the bait. What’s the point? If you had the money, you would do nothing different. With what money you do have, you’re doing nothing different. Your friend is as jealous as he is disparaging. Maybe he is disparaging because he is jealous.

Besides, you’ve got the image of those chainsaws on that chest freezer. It’s almost too much common sense to reckon with. It’s like an antidote to everything absurd. You’ve got the image of that man in the unscreened opening of his front door, resting after morning chores. You’ve got the narrow ribbon of gravel road before you, the ping of small rocks against the underside of your truck. The smell of the late summer air.


Teen Earthskills Immersion Program


Teen Earthskills Immersion Program

It is through immersive, hands on, participatory experiences in nature that connections to the wild are made deepest. Rather than making a craft and hanging it on the wall, you use it. Rather than admiring the forest from afar, you are part of it. This is the experience we are creating with this program.

Come join us at Lazy Mill Living Arts for our one weekend-a-month teen program. At each meeting we will learn what it takes to camp out and be comfortable during that part of the year. In December this might be in a wall tent with a wood stove. Our focus will be on the nearest seasonal wild harvest, from acorns to muskrat. In addition to harvesting these foods we will learn how to preserve and cook with them. We will also make tools and crafts useful to living with the land, such as hafting a knife or carving a digging stick. Other skills and activities will include blacksmithing, archery, tracking and games.

The dates for the weekends:

Oct 3 & 4

Nov 7 & 8

Dec 5 & 6

Students arrive each Saturday at 9:30 am and stay until 3 pm Sunday

Please bring lunch for each day. Dinner and breakfast provided. As always, we strive for local and organic foods in all our meals.

Program Cost: $450 for Fall Session (Oct-Dec), $600 for Spring Session (Jan, March, April, May)

Scholarship applications are available

Located in Stannard, VT

Ideal for ages 13-17

We are flexible on age of participants if someone is really excited about taking the course

Please contact us for more information!


A Good One to Keep in Mind


The mornings are jacket-cool now, the early fog like a layer of smoke in the valley below the pasture, the sickliest of the soft maples already starting their slow turn. Apples falling everywhere. Later, in the afternoon, it is warm-verging-on-hot, and the sky is startlingly, surreally clear in the late summer light, the edges of everything a little sharper than seems normal, the colors a little deeper.

I heard something on the radio news and I thought to comment on it here, but of course I did not, and now I can’t even remember what it was, though I do remember that it made me a just little sad for just a little while, at least until I went into the woods to cut the last of the season’s firewood. Late, I know, so I split it small. It’ll dry, and if it doesn’t, I’ll burn it anyway.

I spent a little time over the past few weeks culling posts from the archives of this site, not so much because I minded having them published, but because it seemed as if it might be a valuable exercise for me to see what felt worthy of keeping. Which, frankly, wasn’t a whole heck of a lot. But then, I think I once estimated that maybe 10% of what I’ve written here was of decent quality, and that’s almost exactly the percentage that made the cut.

The culling process reminded me of a writing truism: There are no good writers, only good rewriters. For those of you inclined to play with the written word, it’s a good one to keep in mind.