I spent 15 years on a dairy farm in Maine. To say that there were many cold days on the farm would be a major understatement. There were many cold days that translated into frozen pipes that broke and needed repairing and there was also the neighbor's airstrip that was lined up so that when the north wind blew down that runway, it ended up pushing the smoke back down the chimney in our primarily heated-by-wood house. To say that life on the farm was insane and that it was very much the stuff of fiction would be absolutely true. As they say, hindsight is 20/20. Sometimes just dealing with everyday crises makes one not look at the big picture. The big crazy, totally insane picture.
This Winter has been a little bit like that. If my kindle hadn't been stolen the beginning of December, I'd be reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter off of it. This is something that I would read nearly every year at the farm, very much a tradition, reading it to the kids, to remind us that other people had it worse once. I've since continued that tradition by myself all these years, just to remember. The winters that I lived in the midwest, I finally understood the scene where the children are leaving the schoolhouse and trying to find their way home in a blizzard. The only thing that saves them from wandering out to their deaths on the prairie was that someone serendipitously opened a door in town and the light shown out from it, guiding them in the right direction. I remember taking Mags out to pee in Berne, hanging onto the porch railings so I wouldn't get lost in the yard. The across the street neighbor opened their front door, and I suddenly understood that scene as never before.. Wandering around in the snow in the midwest isn't really all that bright an idea, even in town. I was glad I'd hung on to the porch and kept Mags leashed. Too much flat land there for snow to blow across, and swallow one forever.
I think, of necessity, I have evolved. and finally found the adult version of The Long Winter, in Bill Roorbach's The Remedy for Love.
Please don't misunderstand me- this is not for kids and isn't written in Little House on the Prairie style. The language is comfortably adult and real for this person who speaks sailor fluently, and though it might seem like a strange situation, maybe too fictional for some, to me it rang as true and as pure as the driven snow.
Shit happens in the winters up here.
It's billed as a romantic thriller Don't let that fool you. True Lies this ain't.
It is as thrilling as romance gets, however, with a constantly intense interchange between the hero and heroine of the story, both abandoned by love, and trying to stay alive during the "Storm of the Century". This is about as up close and personal between two lonely people as it gets.
Adding to the thrill of this book for me was attempting to piece together who the characters might have been in real life as inspiration, having spent 18+ years off and on in the area from whence Mr Roorbach writes. Which small town lawyer was his inspiration? Who was the tow truck driver?- that sort of thing, and knowing the check out line at Hannaford personally made it very easy to imagine this piece of fiction as very real.
Thoreau has a role in this romance Just as I wished that I had read The Maine Woods before I was lying in bed in my newly rented cabin in 1974 being eaten alive by midges and no see'ums and black flies- he did write about them!- his bit about Love is words to pay attention to also. Learning that Thoreau was not particularly successful in that part of his life is something of a comfort to me, that feeling of "loser" branded on the forehead, something shared with a great literary figure.
How the hell is this going to end? took over about 2/3 of the way through, an interesting mix of really enjoying what was going on, but not comprehending where it could possibly go.This might be where I should confess that obtaining a copy of the book was the perfect excuse to just say F)(K IT to a whole day and stay in bed under the electric blanket to read it. A mental health day, if you will, after what has truly been the longest winter of my entire life.
I was not dissatisfied.
A very good read, so much better than my review. Pick up a copy before it snows again.