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Thursday, August 11, 2016

I hope everyone has enjoyed our hot weather for the last couple of days.  I actually haven't been outside much at all - just too much of a good thing for me, I'm afraid.  I had coffee on the deck with Woody this morning, but even in the shade of the umbrella, we had to give it up and go inside after only a few minutes.  There didn't seem to be any breeze at all.

I had work to do on my computer, so it turned out to be a productive day even if I didn't do anything outside.  Fred went about his usual stuff, both inside and out - and doesn't seem to mind the heat at all like I do.  

Thinking back to when I was a kid, I remember being really sick after getting severe sunburns, sunstroke, they called it.  We were outside most of the time either in the hayfield or the pastures, and nobody had heard of sunscreen back then.  A straw hat was about all the protection we had, but we didn't want to bother with them.
In the pasture was when I remember being most uncomfortable in the heat - when I was deep in the woods with no breeze, just very stubborn cows that didn't want to move.  I guess they were just as hot as we kids were.  Fortunately there were several brooks where we could get a cold drink.  Most were spring-fed, and we knew which ones were ok to drink from.  Sometimes we had to rush ahead of the cows in order to get there before they'd riled it up.  The water was very cold, and I remember how good it felt to splash that icy water over my bare skin.  There was usually some wild mint growing along the edges of the brook, and we always took some leaves to chew.  

As we climbed up the hill from the Roy pastures, we had to go through one last swamp at the edge of the woods, and from there on the pasture was always parched and dry with bits of ledge showing through the meager topsoil.  At the top of the hill, we'd always have a breeze.  It didn't matter what direction the wind was blowing from - that hilltop had 360 degree exposure.  From there it was a short downhill trek to the barn.  

I remember taking a St. Johnsbury snowshoe club up the old lane to the top of that hill.  It was a relatively mild winter day when we left our house on West Shore Road (Fred and I were living at camp then, probably 1981 or so).  We took them up Chatot Road and followed what folks called the Bayley-Hazen Road but was really the road the early settlers made because the old military road was too difficult to keep, having steep climbs and crossing deep ravines and swampy areas.  The road the settlers made follows a plateau and rises gently to the top of the hill.  There are remnants of stone walls and foundations of ancient buildings on either side along the way, and it runs parallel but several rods west of the actual route of the old military road. 

The snowshoe people were interested in the history and asked lots of questions.  The snow was deep and as I recall, Fred broke trail most of the way for the rest of us.  As we came into the open at the top of the hill, it was as if the whole sky had suddenly opened up.  There we were, the farm where I grew up and Cabot Plain a little below us, with the Worcester Range and Mt. Mansfield just beyond - but Camel's Hump hidden by some trees; to the north, Jay Peak and some mountains in Canada; turning clockwise we saw Joe's Pond far below and West Danville with the White Mountains in the far distance.  Behind us were the  blue-green hills of Peacham and Marshfield.  Spectacular views wherever we looked - but the hilltop was bare in spots from the wind, and there were  clouds snow coming off trees and the tops of knolls, as the wind whipped at our clothing and stung our faces.  I remember one woman lamenting that it was too cold to enjoy the view, and that was the cue for everyone to shuffle down the slope to the protection of the woods.  

Since then, the farm and land has been sold and there is now a large house on that pinnacle where we stood to briefly admire the world around us.  I've often wondered how the people in the new house like being battered by wind from any direction.  Admittedly, they have a view that won't quit, but then, neither does the wind - especially in the winter. 

There now, I feel cooler just remembering this story!


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