Thursday, January 30, 2014

Reading Challenge: Bingo Night At The Fire Hall

Title: Bingo Night at the Fire Hall: Rediscovering Life in an American Village
Author: Barbara Holland

This was a quick and fun read.  Barbara Holland inherits her mother's cabin in the Northern Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where she spent summers growing up, and leaves her life in the city.  Along the way she fights the natural fauna, winters that bring enough snow to cover her door, loneliness, and lack of "necessities".  What she discovers is the hospitality and family that comes with living in a backwoods small farming community where everyone knows your name, life moves at a slower pace, and neighbors watch out for each other.  She struggles each spring with the decision to move on or stay to fight another winter.  Despite the hardships, Holland realizes that small towns are a dying breed and that should would rather stay and fight than return to the exhaustively busy hubbub of city life.
 "And after all my house is still here, and maybe I'm meant to stay in it. Maybe I"m supposed to watch what's happening; take notes. End my days as an eccentric holdout from forgotten times, the crazy old witch on the haunted mountain with a pet pig, a shotgun across my knees, and a plug of Red Man in my cheek, reminding strangers of something they don't remember. Maybe I will."

Parts I particularly loved:
"Last summer, a man in one of the villages up the road sold the house in which he'd been born and lived for eighty-one years, and bought and moved into the house next door.  A friend of mine asked him why. The fellow said, poker-faced, 'I reckon it's just the gypsy in me.'"

"Men and women are different. Men are stronger. No matter how many weights I lift, any man still actually warm and breathing will always be stronger than I am. When my car is axle deep in mud or snow, a man can lean his shoulder on the stranded bulk and make it move. Or, if it won't move, he probably knows how to take it apart and reassemble it out on the blacktop."

On local crime:
"It's considered almost as unseemly for a woman to live along on the mountain all year round as it is for her to sit on a barstool, but for her to live alone without a dog is simply preposterous. Workmen and deliverymen remind me, when they call for directions, to tie up my dogs before they arrive. When they do arrive and find no visible dog, they're shocked.
I have cats, I offer, and they look perplexed: What do cats have to do with it? Cats are for the barn, to keep down mice. Dogs are for the house, to keep down burglars."

"Last summer a tractor, complete with mower blade, was stolen overnight from a field, which seems like conspicuous loot. Did no late traveler wonder, swooping around the tractor on the highway as the miscreant made his getaway at eight miles an hour, what agricultural business it was pursuing after midnight? Apparently not."

and on local history:
"If, like me, you grew up and went to school among northerners, you think - when you think of it at all - that the Civil War was all about slavery and happened a long time ago. Then if, like me, you move to Virginia, you learn that it was all about Northern aggression and happened day before yesterday."

Reading Challenges:
State By State

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