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Connections

Yesterday the roof was finally bare of snow.  There was a cluster of inch high daffodil spikes in a muddy brown spot in the shelter of a South-facing corner of the house.  Today I just finished shoveling a foot or so of snow and the weather wizards say that more is coming.  Sigh.

For some time I’ve been feeling jaded about the percentage of my human interaction that occurs via the computer.  I didn’t want to write on the internet wall wondering who might come across it.  It felt impersonal and I missed face to face contact.  Yes, I KNOW it’s a choice but so many meetings and gatherings have been canceled/postponed this winter and we lose power a LOT and I’m TIRED of shoveling and it’s HARD and before that it was ICY and really COLD and whine, whine and more whine.  And then . . . .

I’m taking a beginner genealogy course (daunting as I realize the extent of what I DON’T know about my family and the fact that I’m moving further and further up the ancestor list as we speak). The latest lesson was on using a census computer database.  I noodled around looking for my maternal grandfather without much luck.  I then tried my paternal great-grandfather and found him in the 1920 census.   Salem Township: Charlie Filson, age 55 as head of  household with wife Rachel S., age 53, my great-aunt Anna M. (who would become my grandmother) age 25, my Aunt Marjorie, age 13, and my dad, Henry W. age 2 and 9/12, grandson.  My dad’s mother, Edna, was the oldest daughter in the family and she died from influenza when my dad was 16 months old.  He was sent to live with his grandparents.  And there he was. . .  listed in clear copperplate writing as a member of the family on North Cottage Avenue in 1920, an official snapshot of  the story I have heard all my life of the motherless baby who became my father.  It is a very personal connection across time.  It was posted on an internet wall for all to see.  I found it.  I am grateful.

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Perhaps I should say fib or prevaricate or string along. A lie, after all, is in the eye of the beholder.

It’s quiet in New Hampshire. The political bird flocks have flown south and west. We are in a weather deep freeze now that the hot air supply has diminished. The phones don’t ring incessantly. Our discussions are like those after a wedding or a big party. We sit around and kibitz about it all and compare and contrast to other primaries. We take it seriously and have all the years that I’ve lived here. We are fortunate to have many opportunities to meet and listen to the candidates in person. It’s a huge difference from the slick media moments that necessarily ensue when campaigning in many states. It is impressive how many voters thoughtfully compare and contrast.

So what was up with the polls and the missed predictions? We are, indeed, independent here in the Granite State. We are technically “undeclared” on the voting roster and that fits us psychologically, too. Many are fiercely and vocally partisan, but independents tend to be fiercely private. Being curious, I’ve been asking many times in many venues how people responded to the pollsters.

One friend confessed to replying “yes” to everyone who called when asked if she were voting for their candidate. Ditto for her husband. Another gave the opposite response. Whoever called, he was voting for the other guy (or gal). Most preferred the Q&A gatherings to debates or speeches and felt they knew more about the real candidate that way. Many hadn’t decided on the party until election day and reported changing their minds many times before entering the voting booth. Anyone without wishful thinking would have realized how fluid the situation was. If statisticians had any idea about the NH psyche, they would have thrown in or invented a perversity factor.

My responders also indicated that there was a fair amount of hanging up going on. As for me and my house, caller ID changed everything.

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Up out of the pungent darkness they come, reaching upward with tenuous fingers, slight wispy green fingerlings cracking the dried, caked surface of the soil. Then come the paired leaves, green striped ovals, oriental dancers’ hands opened above their heads. The mounds in the fields pop with nose-gays, green polka dots on brown. In the darkness beneath the surface, white root strings of strength reach down, down into the moistness, pulling the mysterious gifts of the soil up till they burst into a volcanic explosion of green vine lava trailing and falling and spilling down the hills and over the countryside. The pumpkins are coming.

What started as a simple June melody develops into a July symphony with crescendoing variations on a theme. The corp de ballet jumps, and whirls and fills the stage with new members of cascading green. It takes much drama to reach the finale. The orange fruit, heavy and strong skinned do not magically appear. There is no diaphanous flower covered entrance for them. The green orbs the size of a child’s fist are visible before the flower opens. This is no ethereal performance on point, high and airy. This is a folk dance with stomping and clapping and fierce contact with the earth.

It takes the hot, steamy sunshine; the thunderstorms with rain whipping in sheets; the dry and cloudless days; the gentle dripping showers. It takes all of these to complete the sweetness, the firmness of that flesh.

Now in autumn with its frosty nights, the vines are blackened and the pumpkins are very orange. They float in the nearby field like spilled cargo on a rolling ocean. They are gathered into mounds to be clambered over and posed with. Their size will be exclaimed over, their color enjoyed. This fruit that is packed with summer becomes the talisman of fall. Their Jack-O-Lantern grins cast eerie shadows on fallen leaves. The plump flesh steamed, creamed, egged and spiced will fill bleak November kitchens with warmth and comfort.

In that first tentative reaching is the promise of fulfillment.

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