Barely Any Help at All

Scrolling through the last few months of posts, I see the same themes repeated again and again: Snow. Driving. Cows. Writing, either the act of, or the teaching of (as if). And so I’m leery of mentioning the snow in the night, or how I awoke to the sound of it sliding off the metal roof (Vermont roofs. Two words: Metal. Steep.) and thumping to the ground. Or how yesterday I drove back roads (again) past rotting snow banks, churning through mud and potholes, balancing on the spines of deep ruts. Or how today is the last class of the semester, and how much I’m going to miss my students. In a strange way I don’t yet understand, I’ve come to rely on them for something.

It’s nearly full daylight now. A beautiful morning, the air lit from the ground by the new snow, the closed-up sky barely any help at all.

Here’s a quote from Edward Abbey to start your day:

“If I had been as capable of trust as I am susceptible to fear I might have learned something new or some truth so very old we have all forgotten it…” 



21 thoughts on “Barely Any Help at All”

  1. Beautiful thought! I agree with Kent just above. I apprentice/mentor one beginning farmer per season, and I miss some of them terribly when they move on. Just yesterday I saw two long ago apprentices at an event and it was like old home week – hugs, gossip, news of a new baby, tears. (Almost all of my apprentices have been women.)

  2. I’ll follow you and your writing even if it keeps snowing and nothing much happens in your life but driving, milking the cow and hanging out with the kids. Just keep writing, OK?

  3. Those who sing while jointly skipping down their yellow brick road are very lucky folks. It is vital that we throw out such roads (like tossing a hat over the fence) and travel them together, even if we occasionally, or even often, discover that we’d taken a wrong turn. anyone up for a walk?

  4. May your students go on to write little gems like this one which pull you up from a complainey place and move you happily into your day.. your writings always pull me up. And yes, I know I had nothing to do with it, however, I enjoy taking credit for placing confidence in you xxxooo

  5. Love your phrase “rotting snowbanks.” People who haven’t lived long winters with snow wouldn’t even know what that means. I also remember very clearly the thunderous noise of snow sliding and then falling to the ground from my Michigan roof.

  6. I didn’t know that you were now teaching; at what fine educational institution are you employed at? Inquiring minds want to know! 🎓

  7. Heraclitus, the pre-Socractic Greek philosopher, said that “Change is the only constant in life” to highlight the need for all of us to always plan for and be ready for change in every aspect of our lives. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst, or at least a less than optimal outcome.

  8. When I had finished my active duty years in the U.S. Army, I was required to remain on Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) status for a couple of years. During that time I was living in Hanover, NH, had to go to the military induction center in Manchester, NH, once each year to be weighed, give a little blood, and update my contact information. I recall the recruiters telling me that they hated being assigned to recruiting duty in New England, as the poor of eligible recruits had little interest in leaving their comfort zone, regardless of how little opportunity there might be in their geographic comfort zone.

    1. That’s funny! I once had a farm in Southern VT – near Bondville – and when I told my friends and neighbors that I was moving to the wide open prairies of Nebraska they treated me as if I had totally lost my mind. I agree that New Englanders can be kinda insular at times, but those folks are everywhere – many of my redneck dirt farmer neighbors simply cannot imagine living in the mountains or by the sea. Ya know – “Nice places to visit, but I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live there . . .”

      1. Nebraska lacks the ambiance of Vermont, lower hills, fewer trees, and very little clear running water, but the land generally produces enough corn and soybeans for a farmer to make a good living most years and enough to get through the lean years for most farmers most of the time. A few months ago, Ben wrote about a farm sale in Northern VT and except for the smaller size of the equipment and the accents and heridity of the farmers, the picture he painted with words could easily have been within a couple hundred miles of where I am sitting in the far western suburbs of Omaha, near 180th and Q Streets.

      2. Are you kidding me? Omaha? That makes three (that I know of) fans of Ben in this neighborhood. I am in Omaha nearly every week delivering my organic produce or volunteering at Big Garden http://biggarden.org/ 40 some community gardens in low income/immigrant/African-American neighborhoods.

  9. Thanks for writing about that stuff. I read alot of bad, depressing shit. I rely on words like yours and pretty Instagram pictures to forget about the fact that our gov’t is controlled by a deep state that seems hellbent on complete destruction of everything. Woooooooooh!

  10. I liked these lines, Ben “the air lit from the ground by the new snow, the closed-up sky barely any help at all.” I was visited by Ed Abbey last week.. hanging out in Arizona desert, 100F degree heat, there was a giant turkey vulture circling, soaring overhead in beautiful wide cirlces. It felt like it was Abbey, finally in the form he always wanted to be, checking in on all of us, checking in on one of the worst draughts we are having here in recorded history.. but Trust flows as freely as water does. There is an incredible power in it, power that can cut through fear and rock.

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