Going away from home for a couple months isn't easy for me anymore, maybe it never was but these days I feel the inertia of this small town and this big house and my just right family. I have a pile of gear on the floor of my office here, yellow notebooks with lists of lists on them, a stack of maps to pack, sleeping bags, gloves, a shotgun, last minute details to try to finalize, a garage to clean, trash to take out, the lawnmower is out of gas, school plays and science fairs and track meets to attend, and then there are the other things.
Over the last month and in the next week I have been crossing off my list some tasks that are important but not necessarily related to the upcoming adventure in Alaska. I sold the farm in Homestead and moved the last of our things out of the barn and up here in a UHaul truck. I bought some acreage outside of town with a project house to renovate and 20 acres of Maple trees to tap for my new business. I got Laura's office painted and new bookshelves put up, replaced the lights, and moved the furniture around. I worked with Calvin Benjamin who brought over his excavator to do some work in the back yard where there are some drainage issues and where I hope to build a workspace for my new maple syrup venture. I met with an architect friend Tim Olsen (at the Salt Hill Pub) to talk over kitchen ideas and sketch out ideas on graph paper. I met with a forester to talk about sustainable forest management and come up with a plan on how to take care of the land. I have helped (a small part, but still...) a friend, BJ Miller, cut a timber frame building for the local school that will become a composting barn. I actually went to work for a few days with Jeremiah from Linehan Design Build helping out Welly, BJ, Tanner, and Maximillion on a gut rehab of a house down in Lebanon Town. Oh, and last weekend I helped Dustin Ray break a Guiness Book World Record.
There is actually a category for the longest unassisted marble roll. That's right, rolling a marble. The previous record was just over 4000 feet and we just shattered that last Saturday night rolling a marble 8650 feet down Sharon Hill, ending up in the playground of the Newton School amidst a crowd of 100 in the cold rain. I helped stretch almost 2 miles of plastic tubing down the side of the road, under bridges and culverts, around curves, over driveways, tied to trees, and finally through the Newton School parking lot to the playground. The marble was dropped into the tube at the top and 14 minutes later was supposed to emerge at the bottom.
We worked for hours on the day of the event but only came up with failed test run after failed test run. Out of 15 tries I think we only made one successful trial. When you lose a marble (or all of them) in 2 miles of plastic tubing it is kinda hard to find it and requires a lot of walking and cutting of the tube and coaxing and hoping and praying. After the last failure of the evening, around 7 o'clock and getting dark, a decision was made to stop already with the tests, tape and tie the damn tubing back together, wait for the crowd to gather at the ending point, and make one final make or break go of it.
I have to admit it, I was not very hopeful. I was actually pessimistic. I was cold and wet and hungry and tired, it was dark and I had been waiting for an hour for the final attempt to be made. I was thinking of home and all of the things that I actually should be doing to get ready for this trip. Then, as almost all hope had washed out of me, that little silver marble came around the last corner near Barrett Hall, coasted through the tent where I was standing and popped out the end of the tube to the sweetest shouts of joy. Success! That, my friends, is how we roll here in Vermont.
Congratulations Dustin Ray.