New England in the Rain

Last night, Catherine, Larry and I let forth with a rousing version of Rain by Lennon and McCartney. When I awaken to the sound of thunder and monsoon, I wonder if the weather dieties have misunderstood our intent. I deploy the poncho and the duck-handle umbrella, pleased they are finally useful. Bernadette loves inclement weather--a Scorpio from Seattle, storms feel like home. She says, "I will never forget this day."

Catherine and Larry make us breakfast--tofu stir-fried with red cabbage and onions with a tahini sauce. They are already having fun in the t-shirts I gave them.

Larry makes a map of the short-cut to Albany for us. We set off bravely and only get lost twice, but adore the tiny, antique towns we pass along the back roads of upstate New York. In the rain, the lush countryside looks even greener, the decaying buildings even more fragile. A few maples showing beginnings of vermillion.

Victorian on a side road outside Lisle, New York

To our amazement, we arrived in Albany in only four hours. We are both a little sad to part company after ten days of non-stop soul-sharing. Bernie catches the Greyhound to New York City to visit friends and catch a plane back to Seattle. I drive east on Highway 7 towards Bennington, Vermont. Just as I leave the bus station, this castle of a hotel catches my eye.

A hotel on the Hudson River in downtown Albany

I put a Marian McPartland recording in the cassette player and headed east on Route 9, through Troy, New York, to Brattleboro, Vermont. Gentle rain outside, Gentle Rain inside. Crescent keeps time with the swish/thump of her windshield washers. I call Joe Gallivan on the cell phone in Hawaii. He is about to fly to London. The cell phone fades out, but at least I know where to reach him tomorrow. Bennington arises ahead of me. This church, a case in point--the road turns left to avoid going through it. I have been surprised and pleased to pass through lovely countryside and quaint towns most of the way across North America. Vermont is more of the same, only moreso--even older and more charming buildings, denser forests, more ponds, rivers, creeks, even more poetic names, like Weatherhead Hollow Road.

Route 7 becomes Route 9 in Vermont, and heavily forested, with ponds and rivers along the road.

Lake outside Wilmington, Vermont, in the rain

I am returning to Packer Corners Farm, where Ray Mungo, Verandah Porche, and a pack of intellectual revolutionaries ploughed the earth with a tractor named Tsa Tsa, raised a Scottish Highland bull named McDonald, invented an Eastern European kingdom called Kajamunya, celebrated it with ethnic costumes and parties, wrote novels, recipes, poetry, and memoirs, and housed me in the winter of 1971-2.

Farm house at Packers Corners in 2000

Everyone is gone except Richard Wizansky, who built a dream home by a pond with his parter, Dr. Todd Mandell. Indeed, when I arrive, I am the only person in the house, which is otherwise occupied by three lawless half-grown kittens belonging to Eliza, who is away for a month. Two young couples, each with a baby, live in cottages that are independent of the main house.

Painting of Verandah Porche in the 1970's

I telephone Verandah in Newport, New Hampshire, where she is living for the year, creating oral histories of blue collar workers from a poetic perspective on a government grant. I hear her voice on the phone and see her face on the wall--an oil painting created twenty years ago. We make plans for a walk and a meal on Sunday night. She gives me Ray's email address. I don't know where to send him a copy of the new book.

Ray Mungo, in the days of the Liberation News Service