The Hammock Report

SH-Faye BennettYou can visit Carding any time in my novels, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, and The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life. The fourth in the series, Coming Up for Air, will be out later this year.

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Please share these with your friends, co-workers, and all the family members you like best. I understand they go great with morning coffee.

This week, we’re lazing into August, the warmest month of the year. Faye Bennett’s, who’s going to be sixteen next month, is taking advantage of a quiet afternoon to send an email to her Uncle Dan.


Hey Uncle Dan,

Wish you weren’t so far away because you’re missing the whole summer in Carding, and in my opinion, it’s one of the best ever.

The whole town is going nuts because our baseball team won the state championship (Wil was awesome on first base and his friend Brian was the winning pitcher), the Carding Academy was featured in the arts section of the New York Times so there’s a ton of strangers in town coming to see it, and last night we had the best concert on the green—EVER!

It was a reggae band brought here by Dirt Road Radio and I saw tons of people dancing who NEVER dance. Seriously, Gram and Andy Cooper can really wiggle their hips and I saw Ruth Goodwin dancing with my English teacher. During the last song, folks made a long line that snaked around the green and the police had to stop traffic coming into town until the music was over.

I made a video for you because Gram and Andy were getting real friendly and I want to know what you think about it. Mom said it’s none of my business, and that Gram’s old enough to know her own mind. I know that’s true but it was weird to see old people kissing like that.

Anyway, the whole town slept late this morning. I know that because Sunday is the bakery’s busiest breakfast day but hardly anyone showed up before ten. Even Mom and Dad were moving slow this morning, and they kept smiling at one another a lot but I don’t want to think about what that might mean. They even closed the bakery early, saying it was too hot to work which is why I’m lying in this hammock writing to you instead of sweeping the bakery floor.

You haven’t had a chance to meet Wil’s friend Brian Lambert but I hope you do next time you visit. He’s really nice and he makes me laugh and he made sure I got included in the group that went down to the beach after the concert was over. I though Mom and Dad were going to say no—they had one of those silent looking-at-each-other things when they’re trying to figure out if they’re thinking the same way without talking to one another—but Wil stepped in and said he’d watch out for me and that’s when their no flipped to yes.

Of course, I didn’t see Wil once we got to the beach but I expected that because he spends a lot of time with this girl named Janice and she was there too. As for Brian and me, let’s just say that I liked him even more by the time I got home.

Please don’t tell Mom and Dad about this, okay? You promised I could talk to you about stuff and you wouldn’t repeat it because they think I’m still ten years old. I’m counting on you.

On a totally different subject, do you remember me telling you about that big split in the Carding Quilt Guild, the one where Gram and a bunch of her friends got into a shouting match with some of the newcomers over last year’s election? I don’t think I’ve ever seen Gram so mad as she was that day. (I hope she never gets mad at me like that.)

Well, Suzaanna and I were sharing ice cream on a bench on the green a couple of weeks ago and that gave us a front row seat when the two guilds faced off over who was running the Carding Fair. The leader of the newcomers (they’re the ones who stayed together as the Carding Quilt Guild) is this awful woman named G.G. Dieppe. She and her husband live in one of the biggest houses on the Mount Merino golf course, and she thinks that gives her the right to tell everyone what to do.

To make matters even worse, she likes to brag about how much she does for the church. She belongs to St. John’s Episcopal and I keep hearing stories about how she’s driving poor Reverend Lloyd nuts with her demands. Dad told me there’s some people who have stopped going to that church who have been there forever, and there’s talk of getting the bishop to intervene. Can they make someone quit a church if they’re awful enough?

Anyway, Gram and her friends and a bunch of the regular fair volunteers—about thirty people—were meeting on the green to talk about layout for this year when G.G. and five of her friends showed up. G.G. claimed that “her” group were the only ones who could run the fair because it started with the Carding Quilt Guild so it had to be the Carding Quilt Guild.

It was weird to watch what happened next. Instead of arguing, Gram’s group went dead quiet. Then they moved slow and deliberate until they made a circle around G.G.’s crew.

When the circle was complete, they just stared at G.G. and her friends while she went on and on and on. It was easy to see that the women with her were pretty uncomfortable pretty quick. In a couple of minutes, one of them left, almost running across the green.

Over the next few minutes, all the other women who came with G.G. melted away until it was just her. That’s when she finally stopped talking, and everyone in Gram’s group went back to planning the layout of the fair as if G.G. didn’t exist.

Suzanna and I were very impressed. I don’t know if it was planned or not but it just goes to show there are more ways to fight a battle than by words or fists.

So Wil and Brian are seniors this year, and I don’t want to think about what happens after they graduate. They’re working as caddies up at the country club this summer, and they both hate it. Brian claims that rich people are the stingiest people in the whole world. Dad says that’s how they stay rich. Wil’s talking about leading a caddy strike during the Vermont Amateur Championship tournament at the end of the month.

You should try to be here for that.

Miss you lots. Mom and Dad say you don’t get here often enough so come soon.


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