Thursday, August 14, 2014

Double Crossing

Two years ago, I stumbled upon Greensboro, Vermont. Summer Home of Pulitzer Prize winning author Wallace Stegner.

Little more than a 3 & 1/2 hour drive from where I live. It is certainly a lot easier to get to than the 3 day trek I needed to embark on for a week inside the childhood home of Stegner, lost in the badlands of Southwestern Saskatchewan. That adventure took two trains from Springfield to Montana VIA Chicago. This was merely a day trip's investigation in my car, to see what might be revealed among those remote mountains near the Canadian border.

I discovered that these hills have some serious mojo going on.

I would have enjoyed an overnight stay... if I could have found a place right on Caspian Lake, where the Pulitzer Prize winning writer spent some 30+ Summers starting in 1947-1987. Stegner seemed to make the scenery he described jump out of the page into your mind and back out on to the page like a mental picture book. Only Robert Frost or perhaps Wallace Stevens was able to make such vivid descriptions of nature flow so naturally and beautifully. But they were poets only. A streak of the poet ran through all of Stegner's loosely-based Fiction novels. "Second Growth" was written about the town in 1947. "Crossing To Safety" came out in 1987. Small details were changed here and there, but both books were closely tied to what the author experienced during his time in the Northeast Kingdom.

Since I took that first trip to Greensboro, a recent search of the area revealed that an old lakeside lodge with summer cottage cabins , which had previously been closed and up for sale, was now reopened for the summer. I could live on the same side of the lake where his onetime vacation home is still tucked into the nearby woods. The hills behind have walking trails, and it was on Baker Hill where his ashes were scattered in the early '90s.

Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to spend some extended time by the same lake where Stegner would write "Crossing To Safety" in the late '80s. With the sound of loons and the sun setting over the Vermont scenery, I can take a little artist's sabbatical, in hopes that I can (in his words) "write to make sense of it all".

It just so happens that there is a Writers Forum happening while I am there, and so I will be attending the evening's event in support of the Greensboro Arts Alliance and Residency. The event is open mic, and I might be able to share the tale of my visit to "Big Rock Candy Mountain". That should blow a mind or two.

And I can sit in a chair overlooking the lake, write some songs, and think of what new stories I can tell when I get back.

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