My Massachusetts pride is partially restored. I remember back when we had real snow, when my dad, in the Blizzard of ’78, had to get to the hospital on cross-country skis to deliver a baby because the roads were totally impassable. (He’d had the good sense to alert the state police before he left the house, and might even have died when he got hopelessly disoriented in the woods but for their headlights shining from Route 2.) Here’s the thing about being from one of those somewhat (but not entirely) bush-league central New England states: you’re always just one measly snowfall from a little respect. Being from “Mass,” you always feel like you could have been a contender. You’re just a wintery degree or two from being taken seriously as a snow state and you’re always longing for a few crumbs of recognition from those maddeningly hardy Big Woods folks – who only live a couple hours away, okay? But they always act like they are just so much stronger and more sensible, more self-assured and more competent than we
“Massholes” are. They probably “act” this way because they are, in fact, much stronger and more sensible, more self-assured and more competent. (Annoyingly modest, too. Recall the complete absence of hysteria after Hurricane Irene devastated Vermont last year.)
When I’m in Vermont, I often feel embarrassed by my — what’s the urban version of a ‘rube’? – city-mouse ways. As soon as I hit I-89, a feeling of “learned helplessness” overtakes me and I start waving my white surrender flag the instant something goes even potentially awry. Go ahead, ask me about anything ruralish. Clearing brush? Black bear management? Cold zone gardening? Well water? Septic systems? Tapping trees? Nada. This is what I currently know: zilch. I am an anti-survivalist. Despite my earnest wish to be reincarnated as a pioneer girl, I know deep in my heart I would have been quickly culled living in another era. (My extreme myopia alone would have been the death knell.)
I have no idea when it’s safe to skate on my pond. I don’t how my generator works. I fear a tree will collapse on my kitchen. Etcetra. My Vermont friends are busily clearing trails and tending lifestock and splitting firewood for the next century (in addition to their ‘regular’ jobs as doctors and realtors and architects and carpenters) while, meanwhile, life in the Republic of Cambridge feels so unbelievably puny and trifling by comparison… Most days, I mean. BUT NOT TODAY!