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Questinia On December - 22 - 2010

Halfway down the mountain between my house and town is a stretch of road that looks like it ends in a house.  It doesn’t of course, rather it curves in front of it like the arced track of an amusement park ride.  The people who live there are Charlie and Anne.  In their seventies, they tend to their seventy acres or so of open land often appearing at varying distances from the house in their get-ups.  Anne on the tractor, Charlie on the tractor, Anne in one of her pear trees cutting the branches to nubbins, Charlie mending a stone wall, Anne putting the scarecrow up in the garden, Charlie with firewood in tow, Anne tending to her rhubarb and chickens, Charlie, partially seen in his little barn, building his wooden sailboat that he plans to sail on in the large pond they have way out back.

I know Anne better than Charlie.  She and I annually monitor a few hundred acres of conservation land behind my house.  We’ve marked its boundaries with fluorescent tape.  We’ve walked on abandoned beaver dams together to reach colonies of  invasive purple loosestrife so we could eradicate them.   We’ve forded many streams.   Anne is in perpetual smile with the turgid pink cheeks of a blushing sixteen year old girl and with the same ease of going into manic slumber party laughter so infectious that when she is telling a humorous story it is her inspiring giddiness that one falls for.  Often the story isn’t finished because varying degrees of hysteria had set into all those listening before the end.

Anne is just this side of dumpling yet manages to fall very gracefully, usually finding a soft hummock or the like to land upon.  She generally falls once  per outing and each time it happens she tells the story of how she was once surveying the land with a local farmer’s son (a man renowned for his looks and physique and who bears more than a passing resemblance to the Brawny paper towel man) and how she fell but he was there to catch her.  “He is a volunteer fireman after all” she’d say slyly.  This soon became another story that typically ended in hysteria. It had variants.  I one time called the farmer’s son’s embrace the “sturdy velvet arms of a swooning sofa”.  More laughter.

Charlie is another matter.  A lawyer, he is a soft-spoken and somewhat restrained Democrat in this mostly conservative town that is also mostly dead on the vine.  He told me once that the backlash we were seeing with ultra-conservatives was directly due to “The sixties happening too fast for them, they weren’t ready”.  That was in 2000.

Just over a month ago,  Charlie entered a raffle.   It is held yearly at a library in a neighboring town.  Someone donates a vintage automobile and the winning ticket gets it.  Proceeds, ostensibly, go to the library.  This year they were raffling off  a restored to mint red 1952 MG TD and Charlie, along with four thousand others, bought their tickets.  Charlie bought a single ticket and won.  He told the local paper’s reporter that “the car has enormous sentimental value because while I was serving in the Navy I saw the same year car in 1953 while walking past an auto dealership with a friend”.  He went on to say that since they both fell in love with the car they decided to both purchase it. Charlie’s friend got transferred and Charlie bought him out. The only difference was, that car was green and the car Charlie won is red.

“I had my first date with Anne in it”  Charlie went on to tell the reporter.  “I also drove it around the West Coast and back to Connecticut after I was released from active duty”.  He further said he always regretted selling that car, deciding to eventually trade it in for a used thirteen hundred dollar Jaguar.  Charlie expressed how he was thrilled to get a car which reminded him of his youth in a happier era.  A picture of Anne and Charlie in their newly won convertible MG, Anne with a slightly glazed and serious smile, was included in the article.

Each time I drive down that optical illusion of a road that looks like it’s headed straight for their dining room, I think of Anne and Charlie who would always wave to me regardless of what they were doing: Anne waving and smiling  while perilously perched on her pear tree without a volunteer fireman or hummock to catch her.  Charlie nodding as he mowed the tall July grass on his tractor.  So my thoughts were no different as I drove past their house late one recent night under a full moon.  I thought of the extraordinary coincidence of the red and green 1952 MG TD’s.  I thought of red and green as the colors of  the Christmas approaching and how green signaled Charlie to go with Anne and red symbolized how Charlie stopped with Anne and never traded her in. But Charlie and Anne had long before gone to bed in their white house set in its illuminated fields of snow.  Instead, I was greeted by something else.  Something small and unmoving on the road.  It didn’t move an inch as I swerved around it on the road’s curve.  It was something I’d never seen on all the walks I’ve taken in the woods and fields either with or without Anne.  It was a partridge.  Unswerving in my associations, I couldn’t help but think it had flown down from one of Anne’s pear trees to greet me.

Categories: News & Politics

Written by Questinia

In the medical arts in NYC

37 Responses so far.

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  1. kesmarn says:

    What a charmer of a story, Q!

    I was thinking earlier in the day how fun it would be to compile a collection of “The Best Writing on the Planet.” Call me slightly biased, but I think we have Planeteers whose writing would compare to the top tier nationally. Think of it: you and Cher, WTS, AdLib, choicelady, e’cat and too many more to list… A collection of the favorite articles and comments we’ve all enjoyed… with original photography and illustrations. Wouldn’t it make a terrific book? (Proceeds to the Planet Fund for sending AdLib and Select Minions to Exotic Locations?)

    • Questinia says:

      Adlib? Well I think his serious writing is somewhat acceptable, but he still needs a lot of work when it comes time to satire and comedy. Don’t you think? 😉

      It’s a good idea all joshing aside. But I still think Adlib needs tweaking 😆

  2. Haruko Haruhara says:

    What a nice story!

  3. AlphaBitch says:

    Thank you, Q, for that lovely story. It has made my morning coffee quite peaceful. Give Ann and Charlie regards from their newest “fan”. And keep some regards for yourself for the telling of the story. Just lovely…

  4. Khirad says:

    I forgot to compliment you on your choice of spelling, by the way, Q. 😉

  5. Kalima says:

    Wonderful story OG, and you did them proud. At the end I swear that I heard Anne laughing in the distance and was tempted to laugh along with her, but maybe it was you.

  6. whatsthatsound says:

    Terrific story, Q! I need to go make some hot chocolate and read it again, because it’s the kind of story one wants to read while drinking hot chocolate.

    Please tell Anne and Charlie they’ve got some brand new fans, even as far away as Tokyo.

  7. escribacat says:

    Delightful story, Q. Now my realtor told me that it’s very bad feng shui to have a road heading straight for your home. (I was looking at a house at a T intersection, with the trunk of the T heading for the livingroom.) But then again, she also told me that she could take me to a “doctor” who would look into my eyes and diagnose all my ailments for me. Then again — again, she did give me a “sales kit” to help sell my old house — a small miner’s bungalow with crooked floors. The kit included a candle where I was to carve what I wanted (I carved “a new boss” even though I was supposed to carve how much money I wanted for my house). There was also some salt rock that was to be sprinkled into each corner of the house and a small white statue of a female saint (can’t remember which one). This I was to bury near the front step of my old house, which I did, though I can’t remember why I was supposed to do that. (I buried it near a lemon I buried a few years earlier on the advice of a Santeria practioner who told me to write down the name of a certain person who had hurt me and describe what I wanted to happen).

    Anyhow, I did sell the house and did get a new boss and I did get over the hurt, which is the note I put into the lemon.

    But what does all this have to do with your delightful neighbors? Perhaps only that it’s late and your post reminded me of all this for some reason!

  8. Khirad says:

    1) Wonderful people.

    2) If you’ve ever lived in a house positioned like that though, the headlights get annoying, though.

    3) This blogger says that they are all but extinct in Connecticut, so, a miracle indeed.

    http://connecticutoutdoors.blogspot.com/2008/11/ruffled-grouse-partridge-all-but.html

    Who knows? Maybe it really wanted to get to that pear tree?!

    • Questinia says:

      Oh Khirad, now I may have to spoil the story somewhat. I just found out yesterday that the partridge was probably one of many that were brought into the area by a well-to-do local landowner who invites his friends up to the country to SHOOT THEM.

      A Republican, of course.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Plus, my husband always says when we pass a house situated on a road like that: Crash-waiting-to-happen.

      • Questinia says:

        There has been at least one crash that I know of. A fatal one. A twenty-something son of another neighbor was killed when he hit one of the sugar maples on the left side before the curve.

  9. Chernynkaya says:

    Ah, lovely, Q! What a tender story of that New England couple. I was struck by how Ann laughs like that. My mother-in-law is the only person I know who does that. She’s in her eighties, a tiny plump woman with an almost hunchback, who tears around Honolulu roads in her Honda at about 70 mph. She laughs gustily at practically everything I say. Sometimes it makes her cough. But she’s hearty as hell and never stops doing a bunch of stuff.

    Also, I have to confess: Ann and Charlie are living my fantasy life. As soon as I win the lottery, I am buying a farm. And, since I am only about a dozen years or so away from their age, it is encouraging to think I’ll still be robust enough to work it, as they are. (Of course, in this dream, I have my extended family there to help, as well as all my neighbors (the tamale makers) there too, so it won’t just be us two elderly farmers toiling.)

    It IS amazing about that car. What are the odds? I love how you tied that into the Christmas colors-- the whole story is a little Rockwell/Robert Frost Christmas ode. Thanks!


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