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10.26.2004

These Little Town Blues

Vermont is up to its old October tricks again, but I've been hurt before. I'm not falling for the pumpkins this time. No amount of fog-on-pond in the morning, red maple trees, or fresh cider is going to distract me from what the state so desperately wants me to forget: winter is coming - bleak, dark, and populated by middle-aged people in reindeer sweaters.

The saddest Sunday of the year arrives this week, when for the murkiest of reasons we have to move our clocks back, and suddenly four o'clock means sunset. Any day now we will have a rainstorm that will knock down the rest of the pretty leaves, and sometime around Halloween there will be the first snow, which we will pretend didn't happen. And then in late November the frosts will settle in for good.

Already I've woken up to thick floral patterns of ice on the car window. Again - pretty but ominious. There was hoarfrost on the grass along the road to work a full three weeks ago. In the mornings now there is a bite and a chill; the dogs fill the air with steam when they run out to the pond.

It occurs to me that I am living somebody's bucolic rural fantasy. I wake up in the morning to slanting yellow sunlight, many times with cello music filtering up from the room below (I live with a concert cellist). The sound is soft but fills the entire house, now that the birds have flown and the frogs are sleeping somewhere in the muck. I wear wool sweaters, pick apples off the tree for my breakfast, throw sticks for the dogs to chase. At any moment I could go out back and chop wood, if the mood struck me.

It doesn't strike me.

Whoever this bucolic fantasy belongs to (and I suspect it's some burnt out middle-aged city dweller who wants to drink cocoa and wear reindeer sweaters), they are welcome to it. I want to be near pizza, movie theaters, and bars that do not have a television set. I want the noise and I would also welcome the funk. I have had four years of contemplative rural winters and there is not a thought left in my spiritually bankrupt head. I want to be near four-story bookstores, real sushi and the kind of attractive, lonesome women with low expectations who will eat that sushi with me.

So I've accepted a wonderful job offer in New York City. Starting in December, I'm going to be an Associate Program Officer at the Andrew Mellon Foundation, helping oversee a number of their open source software projects. I'm excited, eager to be near friends in New York, and looking forward to a Thanksgiving spent apartment hunting. I will do my level best here to not be annoying and wide-eyed about it.

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