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Sunday, January 31, 2016

We're still having spring-like conditions and no sign of anything changing in the near future.  I'm beginning to believe there may actually be a sap run next week if temperatures get into the 40s and 50s as predicted.  It has been hardly worthwhile for folks to go south this winter.  We keep hoping, though.  We still have February and March that could bring a load of snow . . . or not.  

Woody came back to hang out with me in my office yesterday.  I was glad he wasn't permanently miffed with me.  Some cats do seem to hold a grudge - and will get you in their own good time.  We had a cat like that many years ago.  Her name was Hideous.  Jamie had rescued her late in the fall from a neighbor's cold garage when she was the only kitten left that hadn't been adopted.  I had firmly said "No" to having a kitten, and it was at least a month before I realized one was living in Jamie's room.  We had a rule that as long as the boys kept their rooms neat and changed their linens regularly, I would not disturb their things.  I was in and out from time to time, but didn't discover the kitten until she strayed from the hiding place one day.  By then it was too late.  Jamie had fed and cared for her and none of my reasons to not have a kitten held up any longer.  So she became a member of the family.

We had a large dog at the time - another reason not to have a cat, said I - but he was fine with her.  However, growing up with three boys and a big dog took a toll on Hideous and she learned to be mean when she needed to be.  By the time the boys were mostly out of the house and I was living at Joe's Pond, Hideous had been through a lot, so she had problems being in a quiet household and treated as a beloved pet.  She liked to curl up in my lap, but would rouse from a seemingly sound sleep to bite my hand or arm and then skedaddle away like some wild thing.  She loved to play with a string or a toy, but would apparently remember something one of us had done to her years before and she'd attack whoever was closest.  The boys said it was because she'd spent so much time closed in with Jamie's notoriously putrid sneakers her brain was fried.   In spite of the fact she seemed to hold a grudge against humans in general, Fred and I really liked her.  She had personality plus.  We learned to expect the unexpected from her; she was over 20 years old when she died, and we genuinely missed her a lot.

Woody, bless him, is nothing like Hideous.  However, he still steals my office chair whenever I get up.  He has also been known to ignore us pointedly when we arrive home after a few days away, 
like he's mad at us.  I have to remember he's a cat, not a dog; cats don't get all excited like dogs do when you come home.  It's undignified.

I found out recently that the road between Danville and St. Johnsbury was once a toll road.  It was built around 1811, but didn't last many years.  People didn't like the idea of having to pay to use it.  I expect locals went by way of North Danville or one of the roads in the Pumpkin Hill region to avoid it.  Fees were according to the type of vehicle, number of horses or oxen pulling it abd how many passengers, or the number of animals being driven through, etc.  Anyone on foot had to pay, as well.  The toll roads were usually built and maintained by companies contracted for the job and the company was supposed to keep the roads to a certain standard that towns sometimes couldn't manage.  There were several toll roads, or turnpikes, in the southern part of Vermont and in Massachusetts, but only that one in this region.  The era of turnpikes ended after the Civil War.  I've been doing a section on roads for the West Danville history book, and have found a lot of interesting information. There's lots more to do - we're just getting started.  

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