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  1. Rick Parks

    An old Vermont Soule
    I want to say a couple of words about this guy: it was in the 80’s and I was visiting my hometown in New England sometime in shirtsleeve weather, and I agreed to let him wake me far too early in the morning, to help split some firewood. I remember working like a dog, trying to impress the man, as my mother was so in love with him. I mean, this was a guy who, the day after winning the Vermont Lottery, was out digging ditches. This was a guy who, when Villas got a bit too ripe for the tourists, would drag him into the fire station to hose him off and get him a clean set of clothes. So I agreed to split wood with him. Perhaps he was trying to keep up with me, I’ll never know, because the man never said much.
    But just before lunch, after we had gone through a couple of cords, we moved to another woodpile closer to town, where Charlie took a moment to use the nearby store’s restroom and I took the opportunity to embrace the brilliance of the day, the crisp, unforgettable air of home, and the resonant silence as the cooling wood splitter finally allowed the birds to get a word in edgewise.
    That’s when I heard the whistle echoing across town. Now, anyone who grew up in Woodstock knows that the fire-house whistle blows at noon, and it occurred to me that it seemed a bit early for lunch and that perhaps that whistle was announcing when and where a real fire was, so that local Volunteers could head in that general direction and help their neighbors save their homes.
    That’s when Charlie burst from the store, still buckling his pants, and barked a demand at me as he leapt into his beat up old sedan; “How many?”.
    “Three!” I hollered back, as he tore out of the driveway.
    It wasn’t two minutes later that I heard the sound of the siren as the town’s main fire engine barreled up the street and passed me, now standing out on the sidewalk with an old lady and someone’s cat.
    Sure enough, there he was, grinding grimly through the old truck’s gears to help some poor souls whose lives were being turned upside down. No fanfare. Just a simple Vermonter, doing what was right. That’s the kind of guy he was. Ayup. That guy.

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