In the writing room right now ...

In the writing room right now ... I have taken down the brown "butcher" paper that held ideas, photos, drawings, and my hand-drawn maps and plot outlines for the past five or six books. I've placed all those items into three-ring binders, and cleared the deck for paintings and photographs that involve courage, as I move forward in GHOSTKEEPER, the new novel set in Lyndonville, Vermont. My 1850 Vermont adventure THE LONG SHADOW is under contract with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you a publication date as soon as I know! Scribbling lots of poems, too. And there's a possible route to publication of the "Vermont Nancy Drew" novel I built on Wattpad (see right-hand column). Yes, I guess I do like multi-tasking! How about you?

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Farmer's Daughter, and Other Adventures with My Mom

Grand opening this weekend!! What a great new life for a terrific place.
My mother wanted to get lost, every time she drove the car out onto a back road. The five of us kids would play games with license plates we saw, or letters on signs, or anything else we could see through the windows -- we all got desperately carsick if we tried to read in the car, or else we would have opened our books. At least for the three older siblings, books were the magical escape into our own private adventures (my two youngest brothers did some things differently).

But on Mom's adventures, the idea was to discover unusual places (like the store on Route 23 in northern New Jersey that sold only buttons -- gallon JARS of buttons for sale!), special waterfalls (hidden ones are best), and places that connected with George Washington, General Lafayette, and "Mad" Anthony Wayne, all easy enough to find in north Jersey, crammed with Revolutionary War battlegrounds. And, incidentally, one "should" get lost.

Unfortunately, Mom's "direction bump," as she called it, kept her from ever getting truly lost. I think that was the biggest regret that she ever expressed around the group of us! Of course, it was also a source of pride and cheerful enjoyment.

When I first drove a car myself through St. Johnsbury, Vermont, and saw the Maple Grove syrup plant and the gift shop called the Farmer's Daughter -- sometime in 1978 -- I had a moment of déja vu. Surely I had been here before? And entered those doors?

I had indeed. Perhaps in 1956 or 1957! I recall the scent of small pillows of balsam needles, and tiny pillars of pine incense one could burn at a campsite to (hopefully) keep away bugs. I remember being barely tall enough to see what was on the shelves.

For a while last year, it looked as though the lifetime of the Farmer's Daughter had ended, and I mourned. Even with that crazy sign out front (the one that makes my Inner Feminist cringe -- I'm not showing it here), I love the place. My mom wouldn't have wanted to see it pass away.

But this spring, oh glorious news, the Cushman family has leased the building and the gift shop business, provided a fresh version of the "fresh" sign outside, added ice cream and homemade fudge (really, they are making it themselves!), and brought back the happy site with fresh paint, baskets of flowers, even a young goat in a neat little barn outside. I am SO happy!

I can feel my mother peeking over my shoulder. She says, "See, we came here when you were little. I love you, honey. Let's get ice cream cones and buy one of those postcards and maybe that jigsaw puzzle in case it rains later. And then we'll get back into the car and get lost. When we've had enough, we'll go back to the campsite and write a poem about this place."

Love you, Mom. Happy Mother's Day of the heart.

(Joan Lancy Palmer Minden, 1927-1981; a New Englander forever, even as she raised us on a mountain in New Jersey.)

1 comment:

Janis Raye said...

What a lovely reminiscence about your mother. For those of us whose mothers are now gone, Mother's Day is always a little bittersweet. But that's the best way to celebrate -- with such a fond recollection of a wonderful-sounding woman. Thanks!