The Bedlam Farm Barn Fairy has extended her magic to wish you a Happy Halloween – she was Tinkerbell tonight and rumors are she went to Dorset, Vt. and cleaned up – and a good week. She can make it happen. There is no way of knowing if and when she will return, but the donkeys and I hope to see her again. Some of her sparkle dust was on the floor.
Judy walking the cows to the barn
I missed Judy and her family and the farm. Will go over there Monday or Tuesday. Maria and I (well, Maria) sold a ton of notecards on the book tour, well over $1,000. Proceeds to go to farm aid, and Ed wants a donation to the American Cancer Society, as both his mother and father died of cancer. The "Judy" cards were especially popular. She has struck a chord among working women, as I suspected she would. The signed notecards – farms, donkeys, autumn, flowers and light, barns, dogs, doors and windows – are available for viewing and sale at the Redux Art Gallery, Dorset,Vt. Holiday notecards are out.
I drove by the Rouse farm today but nobody was home. At Church, I would guess.
There is great concern for the family, I learned in the book tour, a great desire to see that they do not all succumb to bigness and indifference. I'm grateful that Ed Rouse and other farmers have let me into their lives. I missed them, although they probably didn't miss me, poking into their kitchens and living room and barns with my big camera. Being a photographer is a challenge for a shy person. I appreciate the interest in my farm and other photography. I love photographing the Rouse and am anxious to get back and pester them. Got Judy a birthday present, some Temple Grandin books and a picture book for Madison. About cows, of course. Judy is all about cows.
Maria is working all day today and much of the night and I am trying to catch up, reading three books, driving to the Rouse farm, shopping, cleaning, laundry. The dogs saw me with the camera as I was bringing them in to feed them, and I yelled "photoshoot" and they are pros at this by now, and took up their positions and posed. A pretty sweet group. On the book tour people ask me if Rose will be all right without the sheep.
I always smile when I hear that. Rose loves frisbees, too.
I'm not generally big on nostalgia, but Halloween is a bittersweet day. Halloween is not much of a holiday in the country, the distances are too great, so people take their kids to Dorset, Manchester, Cambridge where there are Main Streets for them to walk on. But I gather that in our stranger-phobic time, trick–or-treating is fading away. Cutting connections. The holiday does bring back vivid memories of life with my daughter Emma, who lives well away from me now. I love the farm, but never grasped the meaning or impact of moving away from your family like that. My head just wasn't working right.
Em and I would go out right after dinner. We would rush around to markets stocking up on candy and jelly beans and I would go into Manhattan to buy costume parts for her. Em was always rational about candy, she never took too much or ate too much, and I always thought the best part of the evening was when she would gather at the kitchen table and trade with her friends – wheeling and dealing over M & M's, Hershey Bars.
The Boomers were already nibbling away at the ritual, dressing up along with their kids, obsessing on candy health and safety, over-producing the costumes. But it does bring back a wave of mourning for the time when parenting a small child was the most intense thing on the earth to be doing. I miss Em, all the time, and am sorry life didn't work out in such a way as we could live near each other, but I am very proud of her and she loves her life as a writer in New York City, the right place for her.
I ran away from a lot of people over the years, and as happens in life, a lot of them are popping up again. I am not interested in memory lane, or in swapping old yarns, or romanticizing the past, surely not mine, but I see that a lot of people had connections to me that I fled from. I am learning not to do that.
There will be no trick-or-treaters on this quiet country road, there never has been a single one, and that is too bad. I miss seeing them in their costumes, and was especially delighted to have a fairy in the barn. I saw the shadows of the tree on the Pig Barn
The farmer woke up on Sunday morning, Halloween, and he got up, got dressed, took a walk with his wife. It was quiet, cold, gloomy. Snow was falling, and ice covered the browning grass, the dying leaves, the hills. "November," he said. "Yuk."
"I had a dream last night," he said. "Maybe because it's Halloween. Because I was up reading "Dracula."
"What was it?" the former girlfriend asked.
"I'm almost embarrassed to tell you," he said. "I dreampt there was a fairy in the barn. Pink and beautiful, and with a radiant smile, loving
the donkeys and lighting the old barn up and filling it with memory and light."
The farmer heard the donkeys braying softly, although they could not be seen, and the barn cats, always curious, were nowhere to be seen. Frieda and the other dogs, quick to bark when they heard anything strange, were quiet, on the porch, in their crates, out of sight.
Only Lenore was wagging her tail, whining, eager to come out and go into the barn. The farmer sensed that things were not as they usually were. So they went. It was quiet. The donkeys were inside the barn, standing still, snorting softly, chewing on some hay. The barn cats were skittering up in the hay bales. The donkeys seemed content. They were calm, at ease. Although it was dark outside, the barn was bright. And warm.
"There's a fairy in here," said the farmer's wife. And he could see that there was, although the sight of left him speechless.
The fairy sparkled and glowed, and had wings. And she was a vision, she was. She danced, and whirled, silently. And smiled and laughed. And you could not look at her and not smile. Or feel the warmth come up to your heart and spread through your body.
And Lenore rushed up to the fairy and licked her leg as she twirled and twirled. And the donkeys brayed so softly he could hardly hear them.
It was magic, he thought. He had never heard anything like this from the other farmers, who all had great tales to tell about their barns. Wait until they heard this one. So it wasn't a dream after all. And the barn was filled with light, and new memory being made, a new story to be told, one that would be repeated and disbelieved and remembered for a long time that touched everyone who heard in one way or another. And challenged them to see the light in the world, no matter how much darkness.