Day 85

Middlebury, VT

JB Family


People converge on the house on the hill. Tasha, Frank’s daughter, arrived in the wee hours. She sleeps while I raid the kitchen for BF. On the couch, as I have occupied the hide-a-bed. The kids are fetched from their Father’s.

I think of a book title, ‘Dancing with the Unmentionable’.

JB Family

Then Tasha’s grandparents arrive, I assume on her mother’s side. Buck is a retired pilot, domineering, so much so that I forget his wife’s name. She’s hard of hearing, which increases her difficulty in asserting herself into the whizzing conversation.

Lunch is served, a delicious “Vishee Swa” (ooh my French!) soup, and sandwiches. Leeks and tomatoes from the garden. Tasha rules the conversation with tales of vher recent Outward Bound backpack/canoe trip. I envy her ability to captivate with tales far less extreme than my own. I try to learn from her. Lay out the problem. Describe the characters as they attempt to deal with it. Highlight their folly. The resolution almost takes care of itself. I begin to find her intensely attractive, despite her physique which is like Camella’s with the difficulties multiplied. We talk later about mountaineering books, trancendentalism, reading. She is a very strong presence, like her father.

The topic turns to organic produce, and Old Buck slams it. “Give me good clean Dow chemicals any day, not some infested, expensive turnip grown by dirty hippies.” Awkward silence. Tasha explains the motives of organic farming as more focused on the protection of the water table than pickiness over produce. No response.

I give the kids rides on the back of the bike. Dewey tells me of his desire to live in the Rockies. “Visit me there anytime,” I say. Anneke explains her infatuation with horses.

Julie, Frank, Dewey, and I prepare for a cold swim in the pond. Kyle Bennett pulls up the road and walks with us. We begin a reunion of lives that haven’t crossed since 1989 when we both still teenagers.

Frank dives off the dock, emerging with a mighty, cold-sounding yelp! He swims to the platform in the middle. I follow, swimming deep into the cold green depths, unable to make a sound when I surface. Julie jumps in & screams, swims straight for shore. Frank joins her, while Dewey and I play on the platform. Finally I swim back to the dock, into the dock, splashing Kyle. Cold, shivering. Kyle identifies aquatic beetles for us. Boatmen and Whirlygigs.

Kyle and I drive to Middlebury, where I buy him dinner and a beer. I’m envious not of him, but of the richness of his environment in past years, especially at Antioch College where there were so many women he could openly have two. In addition to many great, frolicking minds. Maybe a bit like Wheaton when Mom, Dad, Rowland, Wes, and Julie attended. I feel the hermit.

Back at the homestead, they’re eating dinner. Kyle goes back to work on his lesson plan. You can tell he’s a gifted teacher (of kids at summer camp right now).

Buck and his wife leave, the rest of us play Scrabble. Tasha is full of style but no points, Julie and Dewey win by using all their letters, Frank gets all the good letters, and Anneke and I survive. Much talk about rules, but no contests. A family evening.

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