I Have No Idea


Bringing in the Solstice tree

There are so many stories I want to be telling, like about the two Jamaican men Penny and I found standing in the middle of the mountain road as we headed out for a ski. There was no car to be seen, no indication of how they’d arrived there, it was as if they’d been delivered by some invisible force, or perhaps a fast-moving tornado, dropped into the snowy landscape (and how could I not notice the darkness of their skin against the whiteness of the surroundings, and how beautiful this contrast was, and I hesitate to even mention this for fear it reveals something unflattering about my relationship to race, and yet: It was so), and just as I started to ask if they needed anything, I happened a glance over the guardrail of the bridge we all stood upon, and there, a good 15-feet below us, lay their car. It was in the stream, and crumpled like a sheet of the newspaper I use to start the morning fire. I looked at the car, and then at the men, who seemed shaken but otherwise unblemished, and then at the car again. Their survival seemed unfathomable to me, as near to a miracle as I have witnessed. They were cold, very, very cold, and while the driver waited for the police, the other man – Jed was his name – followed us back to our house to sit by the fire and drink tea and tell us about his life in rural Jamaica and we laughed a lot about this and that, and while I was sorry for the misfortune of the accident that had brought him to our doorstep, I was delighted by his company and though I knew him for only 90 minutes or so, I missed him when he left.

Or even just this morning, milking in the early stillness, the sky breaking open blue to the west in advance of a predicted Christmas storm, and after that, a trough of deep cold, twenty below or colder, the days not reaching zero. My family is away for the next 10 days or so – gone to hunt deer in North Carolina, where the season runs into the New Year and does are legal game – and I am home, happy for the quiet time, unafraid of the aloneness, though also glad to have plenty to keep me busy. I will feed the fire and ski and break the ice on the animals’ water and bring the truck battery inside to sit by the stove at night. Though where I’ll go if the truck actually starts, I have no idea.

25 thoughts on “I Have No Idea”

  1. I love you this 💜💜💙💙💙❤️❤️

    Sent from my iPhone-watch out for typos, mine or those of spell-correct .

    1. Well said RLB. Just this morning, I chose to give my daughter a book entitled “Sitting Still Like a Frog”, a book on meditation for parents and their kids.

  2. In todays hurry, hurry world I too am so thankful I have a quiet place to live, away from all the busy noise. To bad I’m not a hunter, the deer roam my yard all the time here in NC. Have enjoyed all your posts this year, Merry Christmas to you and look forward to reading more.

  3. I can’t help but think of the story from their perspective: “Not a car to be found, but two locals on skis stumbled upon our near-demise… later, welcomed into their home, warmed by tea, fire, and friendly conversation… I missed them when I left.”

  4. Who would have expected Jamaicans in the deep of Vermont winter!! They are braver than me. 🙂 I knew Vermont for just six weeks but I missed it when I left.
    Merry Christmas, Ben!

  5. What a great story! Hope Penny and the boys have a great adventure down here in NC and their own great stories to tell you when they return home. Peace!

      1. I have long had a negative impression of Stratton Mountain and Mount Snow due to the herds of pushy and obnoxious rich folks from the NYC and Fairfield County, CT, area who typically do their skiing in southern VT. During the ski season, Stratton and Snow are like Manhattan north and I’m not a city boy.

        I hope that Fin and Rye have fun on their trip and success punching their NC deer tags.

  6. Deer hunting- took me back to Haida Gwaii in the early seventies. Killing a small deer(Haida Gwaii deer are very small and open season is all year). Hanging it in the living room of our communal shack and one person butchering while another person read instructions from a butchering manual. Two people wrapping very weird chunks in brown paper at the kitchen table. We were naive in meat butchering and poor. The meat was delicious. Forty five years ago now. But still a vivid memory.
    Blessings to you and your family Ben. Your writing is beautiful. Thankyou!

      1. I like the Jamaican story. If everyone was as down to earth, the planet might be in much better shape (also lucked out that you and Penny stumbled upon them!) I love the slower pace of rural living, the space to think and be still. I don’t think acknowledging the beauty of what may seem exotic is racist: there’s no inherent negativity in your sentiment. I’ve often marveled at the African laborers here in Lebanon, with gorgeous, very dark skin (much darker than the Caribbean or N America). They also seemed interested in our pink cheeks and blue-green eyes, fwiw. We’ve shared food and stories as well, my kids have memories of aunts and uncles from East Africa who were neighbors…Thanks for sharing, Ben, and best wishes for the New Year to you and the family.

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