The Project Gutenberg EBook of Hillsboro People, by Dorothy Canfield
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Title: Hillsboro People
Author: Dorothy Canfield
Release Date: August 2, 2004 [EBook #13091]
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BY DOROTHY CANFIELD
AUTHOR OF THE BENT TWIG, THE SQUIRREL CAGE, ETC.
WITH OCCASIONAL VERMONT VERSES BY SARAH N. CLEGHORN
HEMLOCK MOUNTAIN (Poem)
AT THE FOOT OF HEMLOCK MOUNTAIN
PETUNIAS—THAT'S FOR REMEMBRANCE
THE HEYDAY OF THE BLOOD
AS A BIRD OUT OF THE SNARE
PORTRAIT OF A PHILOSOPHER
FLINT AND FIRE
A SAINT'S HOURS (Poem)
IN MEMORY OF L.H.W.
IN NEW NEW ENGLAND
NOCTES AMBROSIANAE (Poem)
HILLSBORO'S GOOD LUCK
SALEM HILLS TO ELLIS ISLAND (Poem)
BY ABANA AND PHARPAR (Poem)
A VILLAGE MUNCHAUSEN
WHO ELSE HEARD IT? (Poem)
A DROP IN THE BUCKET
THE GOLDEN TONGUE OF IRELAND (Poem)
Wide and shallow in the cowslip marshes
Floods the freshet of the April snow.
Late drifts linger in the hemlock gorges,
Through the brakes and mosses trickling slow
Where the Mayflower,
Where the painted trillium, leaf and blow.
Foliaged deep, the cool midsummer maples
Shade the porches of the long white street;
Trailing wide, Olympian elms lean over
Tiny churches where the highroads meet.
Fields of fireflies
Wheel all night like stars among the wheat.
Blaze the mountains in the windless autumn
Frost-clear, blue-nooned, apple-ripening days;
Faintly fragrant in the farther valleys
Smoke of many bonfires swells the haze;
Plod with lowing up the meadowy ways.
Roaring snows down-sweeping from the uplands
Bury the still valleys, drift them deep.
Low along the mountain, lake-blue shadows,
Sea-blue shadows in the hollows sleep.
High above them
Blinding crystal is the sunlit steep.
By orange grove and palm-tree, we walked the southern shore,
Each day more still and golden than was the day before.
That calm and languid sunshine! How faint it made us grow
To look on Hemlock Mountain when the storm hangs low!
To see its rocky pastures, its sparse but hardy corn,
The mist roll off its forehead before a harvest morn;
To hear the pine-trees crashing across its gulfs of snow
Upon a roaring midnight when the whirlwinds blow.
Tell not of lost Atlantis, or fabled Avalon;
The olive, or the vineyard, no winter breathes upon;
Away from Hemlock Mountain we could not well forego,
For all the summer islands where the gulf tides flow.
AT THE FOOT OF HEMLOCK MOUNTAIN
"In connection with this phase of the problem of transportation it must be remembered that the rush of population to the great cities was no temporary movement. It is caused by a final revolt against that malignant relic of the dark ages, the country village and by a healthy craving for the deep, full life of the metropolis, for contact with the vitalizing stream of humanity."—Pritchell's "Handbook of Economics," page 247.
Sometimes people from Hillsboro leave our forgotten valley, high among the Green Mountains, and "go down to the city," as the phrase runs, They always come back exclaiming that they should think New Yorkers would just die of lonesomeness, and crying out in an ecstasy of relief that it does seem so good to get back where there are some folks. After the desolate isolation of city streets, empty of humanity, filled only with hurrying ghosts, the vestibule of our church after morning service fills one with an exalted realization of the great numbers of the human race. It is like coming into a warmed and lighted room, full of friendly faces, after wandering long by night in a forest peopled only with flitting shadows. In the phantasmagoric pantomime of the city, we forget that there are so many real people in all the world, so diverse, so unfathomably human as those who meet us in the little post-office on the night of our return to Hillsboro.
Like any other of those gifts of life which gratify insatiable cravings of humanity, living in a country village conveys a satisfaction which is incommunicable. A great many authors have written about it, just as a great many authors have written about the satisfaction of being in love, but in the one, as in the other case, the essence of the thing escapes. People rejoice in sweethearts because all humanity craves love, and they thrive in country villages because they crave human life. Now the living spirit of neither of these things can be caught in a net of words. All the foolish, fond doings of lovers may be set down on paper by whatever eavesdropper cares to take the trouble, but no one can realize from that record anything of the glory in the hearts of the unconscious two. All the queer grammar and insignificant surface eccentricities of village character may be ruthlessly reproduced in every variety of dialect, but no one can guess from that record the abounding flood of richly human life which pours along the village street.
This tormenting inequality between the thing felt and the impression conveyed had vexed us unceasingly until one day Simple Martin, the town fool, who always says our wise things, said one of his wisest. He was lounging by the watering-trough one sunny day in June, when a carriage-load of "summer folk" from Windfield over the mountain stopped to water their horses. They asked him, as they always, always ask all of us, "For mercy's sake, what do you people do all the time, away off here, so far from everything."
Simple Martin was not irritated, or perplexed, or rendered helplessly inarticulate by this question, as the rest of us had always been. He looked around him at the lovely, sloping lines of Hemlock Mountain, at the Necronett River singing in the sunlight, at the familiar, friendly faces of the people in the street, and he answered in astonishment at the ignorance of his questioners, "Do? Why, we jes' live!"
We felt that he had explained us once and for all. We had known that, of course, but we hadn't before, in our own phrase, "sensed it." We just live. And sometimes it seems to us that we are the only people in America engaged in that most wonderful occupation. We know, of course, that we must be wrong in thinking this, and that there must be