THE VERMONT WAY
It was a small event in the overall scheme of things. But small events are what our daily lives are made of. When those events take on special meaning our lives become richer.
Labor Day and the heavy traffic of years past as cars streamed down Weatherhead Hollow Road in Guilford on their way to the Guilford Fair was replaced with silence. A few cars trickled by and I’m sure that “the hollow” missed the echoes of loudspeakers calling for the horse show entrants or for announcers telling the hillside crowd how far the horses had pulled the stone boat.
I was taking an afternoon nap in my hammock when my wife Roberta summoned me to the road in front of our house. It was a windy day and a large tree branch had fallen across the road, only allowing for one car at a time to barely pass.
If this had happened on fair day I’m sure that good Samaritan fairgoers would have moved the branch quickly. But this was a quiet Labor Day like no other in recent memory on Weatherhead Hollow.
I tried to move the branch but it was too heavy for me to budge. A friend driving by stopped to consult with us about what to do. It was a holiday. We didn’t want to summon local emergency services and we were not sure who we would call. It has been years since I have had a functional chain saw, so that was not an option.
Then the most miraculous thing happened. It was as if someone had staged a mini-drama to play out. Brian, who lives down the road, stopped and he and a friend who are both tall and strong were able to move the branch closer to the side of the road. But this was not enough to safely clear the area.
That’s when Matt, who works for his in-laws at the garage next door to me, assessed the need and drove a forklift across the road and pushed the branch mostly off the road into the drainage ditch.
Too much of the branch was still blocking a section of road.
Just as everyone was trying to figure out what to do next my neighbor Charlie, who lives out back, showed up with his trusty chain saw. Charlie was all business and he almost displayed the swagger of a John Wayne type of cowboy hero as he exited his car with chainsaw in hand and slowly walked to the big branch that needed to become a pile of small branches.
Charlie went right to work. No words, because it was clear that Charlie didn’t think they were necessary. He cut the branch into small pieces, working swiftly and precisely. When he finished he walked back to his car, chainsaw in hand, and left the scene as quickly and as quietly as he had entered. Mission accomplished. No need to stand around and talk about what had happened because the job was done.
The entire scene played out in about five minutes. A few cars had to wait until we cleaned up. I grabbed my broom and swept up the remaining debris in the road and as car passed no one would have known that a scene of simple and remarkable community effort done the Vermont way had colored an otherwise uneventful Labor Day.