Friends, Family & Lovers,
Welcome to the latest installment of the Fish & Game Quarterly: The Vermont Issue. Calling our digital zine a Quarterly is a bit of a stretch as we’ve had a few pauses along the way, yet we persist. We’ve failed to be consistent in putting out an issue each and every quarter, and when we do succeed in delivering a true quarterly, we often fail to hit the beginning of the quarter, as in this case, sending a spring issue in late May.
Our consistency exists in the long game, that is, at some point another issue will show up in your mailbox. So, yes, we’ve had our struggles, and we’ll continue to have our struggles, many of them internal, a rejection to yet another deadline, burned out from the urgency inherent in our trade, and many of them external, the transience typical of most employees in a low paying often unrewarding field and, please, let us not speak of money. Yes, my friends, few of us oxen remain, heads too bowed to the task at hand to take notice of other opportunities floating by. In many ways, this persistence, the will to keep pulling the plow, is some kind of metaphor for New Englanders: that stubborn drive to keep beating the bushes, out there lost in the puckerbrush, as Bob Machin says, come what may. That what is more clouds, rain, snow, and cold each year than soft and easy sunshine.
Having grown up in southern New York, I cannot call myself a New Englander, though I tried, I feel I’ve always been on the outside, looking in with admiration and a certain envy at the resilience and ingenuity of my contemporaries to the north. I was introduced to life in Vermont in 1980 when my parents’ brought my sister, Eva, and me to Stratton Mountain for a week of skiing. Even at my lowest point in the years that followed, I logged at least a day on the slopes in Vermont. That’s some long game consistency.
In 1982, my folks bought a place up on Stratton Mountain and they’d load us kids and the family dog into the car every Friday evening for the four-hour drive from Westchester to southern Vermont, Neil Young’s After the Goldrush on one side of the Maxell, Allman Brothers Fillmore East on the other, over and over again. Eva and I would drift in and out of sleep in the back seat, my father in some kind of classic rock hypnosis and mom, unfailingly, keeping a watchful eye on both the road and dad to ensure he didn’t fly that silver seed right off the road.
Something changed inside of me when we hit the green mountains. I felt more at ease than in the gentle lowlands of New York. Of course, there was promise of the slopes the next morning, escape from the flat toned classrooms and bad lighting of a school that really wasn’t that bad at all, but there was something more and to this day, it’s ineffable. I still feel it, this change, the relaxing of the cremaster, the urge to spark a joint, the softening of my body against the car seat, each time I roll into Bennington, the first real flavor of the Green Mountains on my frequent drives north from the Hudson Valley. There is only one word, Vermont.
I have more stories to tell about my life and times in Vermont, alas, I’m not a true Vermonter, despite having lived there for extended periods of my life, I do not reside there. Perhaps I do not have the mettle required to commit to the long, dark cold, my daydreams often wandering west these days as much as north, a whimsy scoffed at by the old timers. These stories will come out in the next book, or the one after that. For now, enjoy these stories from neighbors, our brothers and sisters to the north, a few true Vermonters who honor us with their contributions as we honor them and what may just be the best goddamn state in the Union.