I lingered, and lingered at Lois's house. Blueberry pancake breakfast. While I wrote out haiku postcards she played her mandolin, a fairly recent venture for her. A tour of her partner's pottery studio. Continual stimulating conversation. I originally intended to leave by 9 AM, then stretched it to 10, then finally left about 11:15. The sweet sadness of departure.
Val and one of her fish creations.
Lois and I.
So out on the road, no longer coastal route 1 but interstates back the way I came just a few days earlier. Crossing over the Piscataqua River bridge, exiting Maine, again that sweet sadness that I always feel when leaving the state. I'll be back.
From I-90 in MA I left the familiar road and turned south and west on I-84 heading to Bloomfield, CT and the second reading of the tour at the Prosser Library. A little before 3 PM I stopped at a rest area and connected for a pre-planned phone interview for the Poets' Quarterly on-line journal. The interview won't appear till October and will be based on on-going interviews throughout the tour.
The Bloomfield reading was set up with the help of friend and FootHills Poet Charlie Rossiter. An old poet friend of his, Tom, lives in Bloomfield and got me booked at the Prosser Library. I had never met Tom before. When I got to his place we instantly connected. Books throughout the house (many I used to have before last year's house fire, a bittersweet sadness) and immediate good talk.
Again, about 15 people at the reading, just like Southwest Harbor, and a wonderful response, a lot of questions, good conversation and decent book sales.
Afterwards, two other poet/performers joined Tom and I at his house for pizza, bevarage and sociality. Victoria and Terri had been part of a poetry performance group with Tom, "Not Just Any Tom, Vic and Terri." Tom gave me a copy of their CD. They each read or recited pieces occasionally throughout the night. Tom along with his bodhran, Terri with wonderful character voices and Victoria speaking in Spanish. The flowing talk and word quips/responses flowed fast and loose. The evening reminded me a bit of Kerouac's description of an evening at Gary Snyder's cottage in Mill Valley that's in The Dharma Bums. I don't have the book with me (I'm sure it's on Tom's shelves somewhere here, but he's gone and I don't want to hunt through the hundreds of books here) but he writes about an evening like this with he, Gary, Allen Ginsburg, Phillip Whalen and probably one or two others. Of course he used fictitious names in the book, but close enough to see through the cover. I'll have to look up that passage again someday.
So, reading two and day four of the Poems Across America Tour is in the books (well, the book will be sometime down the road.) The first days were relating with already known friends, today with never-met-before new friends. Tomorrow?
A quiet day. Tom, whose house I stayed in, had already left for work by the time I got up. I usually wake early. This morning I awoke at 6:43 then turned over and fell back asleep till almost 8:30. Very unusual for me. But the last few days have been full of activity, conversing with friends, staying up late. I guess I needed the sleep.
I hung out at the apartment doing some of the work that still needs to be done while on this tour. There are FootHills books that need to be worked on, booking that still needs to be done, correspondence that needs to be taken care of. I would love that I could leave all of that other work behind, but that is not possible on a journey of this length. So, I do what I can, what I need to do, within the framework of the journey.
An interesting situation today. I need to send postcards with my original haiku to the people who have helped support this journey through the Indiegogo campaign and elsewise. I stopped at numerous stores today and couldn't find anyone who had postcards! I even asked people on the street where I might find them and most people couldn't give me an answer. Finally, after a couple of hours, I found some at a small card and gift store. I don't expect that this will happen too often on this journey.
While on the road from CT to NH, I drove I-91 for a bit. This allowed me time to reflect on the experience of these first days on the journey. So much has happened, so much intensity. It makes me wonder about how much this whole 14 week journey will impact on me. Who will I be at the ending of this tour?
Presently I'm in a motel room in Keene, NH. I have a reading tomorrow at the Toadstool Bookshop, just down the street from where I'm staying. To camp nearby would have cost around $30 and would entail driving miles back and forth into town. For a little bit more expense I'm in town, a short walk away from Toadstool. And while here in the motel I can get a lot of other work done that would be much more difficult to do if I were camping. I want to camp a bit during this journey, but expect most of that will come when I'm out in the western part of the country.
$30 to camp. Camping was always the cheap way to travel, but it seems that nowadays the campgrounds are charging what motel rates used to be not all that long ago.
I'm an old hitchhiking traveler who has always been uncomfortable with spending much money for a place to sleep for a night. In those days long ago I could just walk off into a field, throw down a tarp, lay out my sleeping bag and have a peaceful night of sleep under the clear night sky. Or stay in someone's house. A third of the time over the 30,000 miles I hitched I stayed in peoples' houses without ever asking. Now, there are other considerations and that mode of operation isn't as practical. Still, it seems decadent to spend more than $40 for a one night room. Fortunately, this won't happen too often on this journey.
So, I yawn as I type these words. I'll sleep comfortably tonight in this motel bed, take a good shower in the morning, then head out into town to give my first book store reading of this tour. No honorarium, just book sales. I'm curious to see how it will all turn out. I need to balance the getting the poetic word out into the world with getting a bit of income flowing the other way. The muse/the material. The balance. Always precarious. Always fascinating to deal with.
Keene is an interesting small city. The center of town still has an old New England feel to it, even though it's full of retail shops and restaurants.
I thought that if I'm near Hayneville, AL I should make a stop there.
Farmer's market was happening so I of course needed to stroll over to it. A good variety of home-grown and homemade items.
I talked a bit with Sarah, a staff member of the Community Kitchen who was set up at the market. The kitchen serves meals Monday through Friday evenings and then on Sunday afternoon.
They serve well over 1,000 meals a week on average. Also a food pantry for low income people. Sarah is in charge of a new program, the gleaning project. She's talked to local farmers, gardeners, etc. and has worked out getting food donated that isn't quite saleable but isn't bad either.
Here's a link to the history of the Community Kitchen:
In the town square was a group of protestors opposing war, supporting peace. I went over to talk with them and learned that they've been out there every week for 11 years. The town square is used quite often by people espousing their viewpoints on various issues.
Some old album covers in this store window.
Another protest of a different sort. I didn't go over to talk with them, as I had to get to my reading.
The reading at Toadstool Bookshop was, well, non-dynamic. I did have a good conversation with three people though. One was a young man, Roman, with a five month old child, who has written poetry his whole life but has been experiencing writers' block lately. One of the interesting things he said was that he reads poems to his young son everyday.
Had a long talk with Sarah (not the same Sarah as earlier) who has led a fascinating life. Almost 30, she's lived in numerous states and traveled to many countries. Interested in anthropology, political happenings and learning in general. I encouraged her to write, which she doesn't do. She is so well-spoken that I feel she would do some wonderful writing if she tried.
After that, another good conversation with Sandra, a woman who works at the store on weekends and has published one Young Adult book and has a second one coming out this fall.
I sold a couple of books and the bookshop purchased a number of them, too. So from that end and the conversational end it was ok. Just not a regular audience and a regular reading. I expect that in some of the states this will be the case.
Afterwards I made my way into Vermont to stay with old friends who we met back home years ago, Anna and Jack. The road through Vermont from the Connecticut River valley was very Vermont-ish.
tree covered mountains
in every direction
road never runs straight
Delicious homemade pizza, four kinds, by Jack and good talk with them and two other friends who came by, one, Jon, a FootHills poet. We sat out on the front porch as the night slowly came on. Across the way toward the west a ridge of the Green Mountains dominated the view. Stories flowed as we sipped beverages and stars came out in the darkening sky. A pleasant way to end one more day on the road.