This issue of Our Country Home is different from, well, all the others.
This spring, driven by coronavirus, one of the usual fault lines here re-opened.
There’s always been a split between locals and city people. Sometimes it’s a peaceful division—everyone’s aware of it but nobody much minds. And sometimes it gets mitigated—think of all the city natives who moved here a long time ago, settled in and stayed, contributing to the community in a number of vital ways. Even the locals were newcomers at one point or another.
My aunt, Norma, who spent long summers here from 1905 on, used to say that the only ways you could be considered local would be 1) to be born here and 2) to be buried here. She couldn’t do much about the former, but the latter... Well, she asked to be cremated and her ashes scattered here. She wanted, more than anything, to be grounded in the land she loved.
People want to be part of something larger. We are, as a wise friend of mine said, all links in a chain, and those chains are knitted together into chainmail. If the links start breaking, so does the whole.
The schism, this time, settled down fast. We all realized that the problem was lack of medical capacity and that the loudest and angriest were also, probably, the most scared. But the fear is still there because the problem driving it is still there.
We wanted to explore the larger matter of our country home. The greater place we live. Our community. So, Linda Doyle English talks about her experiences growing up here in the 1950s. Michael Schleifer describes his time as a camp brat in the ‘60s and ‘70s and how he hasn’t really left the area. Jude Waterston, a long-time city native, moved here full-time a few years ago; read her story and try out her recipe for cherry tomato clafouti.
Ramona Jan offers a talking stick DIY to encourage conversation.
And because we are still Our Country Home, let’s welcome Jonathan Charles Fox back to these pages. He’s photographed Dr. Joe D’Abbraccio’s new house, created as a haven in an uncertain time. And finally, Barbara Winfield is back, too, with a list of tips to beautify our homes in pandemic days.
May we all keep talking to each other.
Editor, Our Country Home