It’s been a tough year weather-wise all over Vermont. Last summer was nearly rainless and this winter’s weather has roller-coastered from snow in abundance to the two most dreaded weather words in winter—wintry mix.
For the uninitiated, wintry mix combines snow, snow crystals that look and act like tiny styrofoam balls, sleet, rain and, best of all, freezing rain. In other words, hell in the form of precipitation.
The folks in Carding, like everyone else in Vermont, are not happy about it. Let’s look in on the customers coming in the front door of the Crow Town Bakery to catch up on the latest, shall we?
Welcome to Carding, Vermont where life always includes a dash of the unexpected. Carding is the small town (population 3,700 or so) that no one can seem to find on a map of the Green Mountain State. But you can find it any time, right here in the Carding Chronicles and in the four novels of Carding, Vermont, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life, and Lights in Water, Dancing.
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“Jeezus!” Gideon Brown gripped the handle of the Crow Town Bakery’s door with both hands as he stepped inside. “I can’t remember the ice on the roads ever being this bad. You can’t keep your truck on the road or your feet on the sidewalk.”
“And that’s after it’s all been plowed, sanded, and salted,” Stephen Bennett said from his position behind the bakery’s counter. “It’s kept folks trapped inside for days now. Even the dogs don’t want to venture out.”
“Oh my gawd,” Edie Wolfe said as she entered with her cocker spaniel, Nearly, at her side. “We were trying to get over to the store but I’m not sure we can get that far without falling.”
Nearly shook then sat down to gaze at Stephen.
“I think the little one is craving a scone,” Gideon observed.
Stephen looked over the counter at the adoring face that Nearly was using on him. “Yeah, that’s his scone face, all right.”
“Whoa, can you believe that ice?” Ruth Goodwin said as she stamped her feet on the bakery’s doormat and then reached down to peel off the spiked attachments to her boots. “I’ll tell ya, the motto of the post office covers only snow and rain. It says nothing about glare ice covering every surface outdoors. There’s some mailboxes I just can’t get to.”
Just then, Crow Town’s waitress extraordinaire, Hillary Talbot, appeared from the back kitchen, a fresh pot of coffee in her hands. She raised it above her head and asked: “Anybody in need of caffeine?”
And so the new day began in the Crow Town Bakery. Every time the door opened, the treachery of the ice was condemned. Tales were told of falls, long lines at the emergency rooms, impassable roads, and the inability to give a dog a good, long walk.
“There’s nothing to play in,”…” Gideon complained to no one and everyone at the same time. “I mean the mountains are making snow—it’s sure cold enough—but if you want to snowshoe or cross-country ski…”
“…or snowmobile or hike…”
“…or even just get across the street…”
“…you gotta shuffle or use ski poles just to stay upright,” Stephen said.
“It’s ridiculous,” Ruth Goodwin declared as she fed bits of her muffin to Nearly.
“So what are we going to do about it?” Gideon asked.
For a moment, dead silence reigned throughout Carding’s favorite restaurant. Stephen shook his head as he tended to a pair of over-easy eggs and waited for an answer from the roused crowd.
“Complain some more?” Edie asked.
“Demand an instant replay of winter with more snow this time?” Ruth suggested.
Silence lapped the edges of the room once more. Outside, one of the town’s lumbering plow trucks slowly negotiated the narrow road that wrapped around the Carding green. Everyone heard the clinking of its tire chains as it passed by.
Then Gideon stretched his empty cup toward Hillary. “I would suggest that we all meet here tomorrow morning and complain again,” he said, “and then count the days until spring.”
Ruth and Edie extended their cups to Hillary. “Sounds like a plan to me,” Ruth said.
Remember, you can visit Carding any time by scouring the archive of older stories or by reading one of my four Carding novels, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life, or Lights in Water, Dancing.
Thanks for stopping by.