Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Honest Injun

     West Danville is a small town on a major road connecting Montpelier to Saint Johnsbury. Situated on a body of water known as Joe's Pond. While the name and the pond are nothing overly impressive, it is a pleasant enough location, and back in the 1950s, when America started traveling through Northern New England with their families, Motor Courts with cottages big enough for a budding small group of travelers could stay for a few nights or even weeks if they chose.

I went looking for alternative accommodations, after the Highland Lodge checkout. At $165 a night, and no more vacancies for me to extend my stay there, I decided to look into options that would save me money, still be close to Greensboro and my Writers Conference taking place that evening. I also had to be in Brattleboro the next afternoon to teach rock music to some kids, and West Danville shaved about 20 minutes off of my drive in the morning. In between West Danville and Greensboro is the town of Hardwick, which is home to a VPR signal, and a few more progressive shops, coops and denizens. West Danville is the polar opposite - you get limited selections of everything, and it is as basic and plain as Maxwell House is to Coffee.

      Such is still the case for Injun Joe's - a place named after Indian Joe, a historic native of these parts who has been immortalized everywhere you go in this tiny town. Despite the slurred nature of the name, nobody seems offended, or at least they don't talk about it. I certainly didn't  bother when I drove up the hill to inquire about of cottage for the night... and was greeted by a pleasant old French Canadian woman, who promptly took my reservation, and my crisp $100 bill.

Because I was the first arrival on an early Monday afternoon, and I didn't need a kitchen, I was given the cottage with the nicest view. Set up on a hill with a porch overlooking Joe's Pond, and the Vermont hills.



     While the near constant flow of traffic was slightly distracting, the birds in the trees and the loons in the water paid no mind and went on their business.

    In Greensboro, a gathering of writers, poets and cultural enthusiasts was taking place... but as I pulled up my car to where I thought it was taking place... I seemed to be at the wrong location. Greensboro is a small town, and luckily, I still had a cel phone signal, and was able to check my e-mail, to discover the new location was at the Lakeview Inn - a historic landmark in town, that was only open to large groups of people for functions, and to insiders.

Finding the revised location, I was greeted by two pleasant women at a front table. I was given the honor of coming from the furthest distance, although one couple was from Belmont, but they were summering  there like every year, and apparently that doesn't count. I asked them "Does that come with an award? Like maybe a gas card?"

As the rest of us drank wine and listened to conversation about all of the great writers, artists and historians who live in the area, I realized how far out of my profession I was getting myself into. None of it seemed to matter to these people, as they eagerly listened to my tales of journeying to Saskatchewan and back. Turns out they knew less about Wallace Stegner than I expected they might, and I was a valuable provider of certain details they never imagined.

    By the time it was over, it was 10:00PM, and we had been talking for nearly 4 hours. I still have images of the lush grounds in my mind. Those rolling meadows covered with flowers, and the mountains of Vermont in the distance. Not a single other house in view for as far as the eye could see. I hope to come back someday, and just like Eastend... I have an open invitation to do so any time.

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