11-12-2015

I dared travel across the Connecticut to Vermont this week. Told stories at the History Center in Woodstock. Thanks to director Jennie Shurtleff for inviting me. Wasn’t sure how my New Hampshire accent and (mostly) New Hampshire stories would fly. But Vermonters know a lot about the Granite State and seemed able to comprehend most of my words. They even gave me a lesson in the Vermont accent. How to pronounce cow. It’s two syllables. (That goes without saying — and yet I just said it.) With a long a in the middle. Like cay-ow. I’m practicing in case I ever get asked back.

Which reminded me of the emu in Bow, celebrated in no fewer than six front page stories in the Concord Monitor this fall. Article 1: Emu sighted in Bow. No one knows whose emu it is. Article 2: Various folks try to catch emu, with no luck. Article 3: Emu still at large. Article 4: Emu caught and safe at an animal rescue farm. Still no sign of owner. No locals missing an emu. Article 5: Emu recognized by owner in VERMONT. Article 6: Vermont owner picks up Emu. Puts a bag over its head and loads it in the back of her Prius. Away they go. Happy ending.

At my house the debate raged: How did the Emu cross the river?

Some of us figured it took a bridge. Strange though that no one seemed to notice an emu crossing one of those big bridges.

Some figured it took a boat. But Emus can’t row. Or fire up a motor. Far as we knew.

John Rule said it swam.

The rest of us jumped on that. Emus are from Australia. Are there even rivers in Australia? Isn’t it mostly desert? Emus can’t fly and they can’t swim. Nimrod!

Then we googled it. Turns out Emus can swim.

Sally in Woodstock, Vermont, told this story. As a hospice nurse she visited the elderly in their homes and administered both mental and physical assessments. One woman lived in what Sally recognized right away as a commune village, left over from the seventies. She asked the woman a series of questions to test her state of mind and emotion. What year is it? Who’s president? Do you get lost sometimes? Are you hitting people? How’s your appetite? Do you feel depressed?

Then she asked: Have you ever gone out in the road without your clothes on?

The woman perked right up, eyes twinkling: “Oh my dear,” she said, “those were the days!”