Before we became country mice, we were city rats. Garry lived in Boston, downtown in Government Center, for 20 years, then another 10 in Roxbury. I lived in Jerusalem for 9 years, Boston for 3, then Roxbury (which is really part of Boston) for 10 … and then we took our show on the road and moved out here.
It is a bigger different than mere geography. It’s a completely different ambiance, a different texture. Ironically, although the air is cleaner, almost completely free of industrial pollutants, it is thick with pollen and dust. My asthma is far worse out here in the country among the trees and grasses than it ever was in town with the car fumes and chimney soot and all. That, and of course all the dog hair we have in the air and everywhere.
It’s pretty out here. We’ve got the river and the canal, waterfalls everywhere you look. Autumn, when we don’t get rained out, is glorious and you can stop at farm stands and get fresh organic veggies and fruits any time they are in season. We’ve got cows and horses, goats and a dizzying array of wildlife.
Deer, raccoon, the cheekiest chipmunks you’ve ever met … and then there are bats, rats, an infinite number of field mice. A bobcat with glow-in-the-dark eyes and coyotes that look like big friendly dogs. Nasty fishers with coats like mink and when the bobcat hasn’t eaten them all, rabbits. Squirrels, but fewer than there used to be before the bobcats. They are small but mighty hunters.
Irony again: the biggest, nastiest raccoon I ever met was on Beacon Hill, in our back walled garden. He was big, fat, and he wasn’t taking any crap from me. He informed me that the back patio belonged to him and I was disinclined to argue the point.
I never went back there again. At least the raccoons around here stay in their own part of town, or woods.
There used to be many more working farms around here, but the farming families have grown old. Their children don’t want to work that hard. Who can blame them? Farming anywhere is a difficult life, but in New England?
I love this region and this valley, but it’s hard to figure why anyone would choose to farm here. We have terrible soil, if you can call it soil. It’s all roots and rocks.
The “New England Stone Fence” … those scenic stacked rock walls you can find just about everywhere were not built for some special mystical reason. It was just something to do with all the rocks farmers had to take out of the fields so they could actually plow the ground.
What thrives here? Apples. Dairy cattle. Horses. Short growing season crops like tomatoes and cucumbers and a particular kind of corn, called locally “butter and sugar” because it’s yellow and white, and sweet as sugar. This is the time of year when you can find it in the local grocery stores. It will be gone in another week or two.
Most of our local farms are organic … sometimes too organic for my taste. I like my milk homogenized and my eggs unfertilized. It may not be politically correct, but I can’t help it. I’m me, un-PC and all.
The farm is lovely and the farmer is a friendly guy, but he’s getting old. When he’s gone, the fields will become sub-divisions, if property values rise even a little bit. Otherwise, as is happening all over the valley, the fields will go back to woods and stream.
This is one of the few places in the country where wild life is returning. Animals that have been gone from this region for as long as a century are coming back. Fishers (also known as fisher cats, though they are weasels and closely related to mink, not cats of any kind), coyotes, bobcats and now, bears too. Deer are everywhere and moose can’t be far behind. Racoon and skunk, out-of-control chipmunks … we’ve got it all.
The eagles are back, too. We have a nesting pair of American Eagles in our woods.
We had rabbits and squirrels, but the bobcats ate them. Almost all of them. That’s okay. They will be back, but then, so will the bobcats. The circle of life is in our yard.