Bill Kenney 3/09
I finally have some time, cindy is somewhere else, and her exploder sits in the drive, ready for a cruise to kenneyville. I rev up on the Easton road, a sign “frost heaves” is very true, and soon I pass the sign to the Robert frost museum, paralleling the ham branch river, running black between random patches of ice and snow. Flash on the time I ran it at high water in the canoe with Derek. “don’t kill my son” were the last words Carolyn gave me. I was the one who swam when we hit a log, just another river trip.
Flash again on the gunfight that took place here, with liko Kenney pulled over, getting into an argument with a cop, and shooting him with a 45 then running over him. Then the crazed ex marine picking up the cops gun and shooting liko in cold blood. The town went crazy over this one, fingers pointing everywhere, and friends shocked. I know the family, and knew liko as a kid running wild, undisciplined, and always in trouble. He was on the road to recovery until this catastrophe.
Im on a quest for old friendship, looking for bill Kenney, archtypical new Hampshire farmer and black sheep of many in the Kenney family. Jack and peg Kenney met skiing and bought an old farm out here 500 acres in the 40s and had a skiers hostel with raging parties back in the early days. Their kids now feud over the land use, a sometimes tennis camp, beefalo ranch and organic garden. Davy grew a field of mellowness, and now bill is the only one left working the land. Mike has a tennis court refinishing business and joe is semi retired, running an antique shop, now mother of the famous ski racer, bode miller, who has just retired from the world cup circuit after winning the cup.
Bill has married a Russian lady, mail order bride, and lives in the cook shack, a log cabin structure back in the woods. I look up the drive and there he is, looking very busy, a Maddox over his shoulder, headed for the carrot patch. Knee boots, coveralls, tattered carhart jacket, craggy face, beard, but piercing eyes, always moving, We greet , old friends, and banter about the weather, the crop of organic carrots hes been growing since august now under an insulating cover of straw. “an old Indian trick, keeps em growing through the winter”. He wacks away with the Maddox and removes a thick layer of rotten hay, digs into black rich earth and red shapes of carrots start to come up. He fishes them out and soon has a good pile. “wow, I never knew about that” “you gotta be tricky out here to survive”, he grins and goes back to work “I can get 1$ apiece for these things in the health food store.” Hmm I wonder how true that is.
He starts in about his farm “ ya, still got them beefalos, did in a big steer last month, another ready to go” dreaming of a cash crop, he has 12 of the beasts, and they eat a lot of hay. “ gonna have a valley full of organic farm here, gotta option on 26 acres in the lowland, great soil, gona be hiring soon, know anyone who needs a job?” “ I know a couple million out there, that need a job, maybe we could start a new town for them”.
He’s at odds with his sibs over how to split up the farm, he wants 5 acres, a minimum lot size, but his sibs are all at his throat, tried arbitration, to no avail, they really don’t like each other. Its coming down to a court hearing in the spring. He may be out of a place to live.
Its quiet and getting cold, the sun setting steel gray in the west, and the smell of fresh earth in the air. He’s headed to the barn to feed the beefalos, and I’m cold, feet wet in my crocs, and not suited to hike down the hill in the deep snow. “ you got no boots,” he observes, “I better be moving on, I stole cindys car, and shell be wondering where it is.”
We part ways, waving as he goes down the road into the gathering dusk, headed for the greater glory of living off the land.
Copyright 2009 terry wright