Today the corn is new, no higher than my knee, and at this height it has a special color: luminous green under the overcast sky. The clouds are thick and dark, like a stew. For some, this place might seem always the same: the corn growing, the looming mountain, the lone trees far off across the fields still and silent, punctuating the view. But for me there is always something to see.
Beyond the bridge of Highway 91, beyond the levee and the last line of houses at the outskirts of town, civilization goes to rural scenes. First you pass a patch of low trees; then a small paddock and barn where two horses live; and then you come to the cornfields — wide, flat, golden and stubbly by the riparian woodland of the Connecticut River. I’ve always wanted to come to these fields to see the stars, but the landscape is lonely, and I would be afraid to come alone at night.
I write twice a week in the Watson Room at Forbes, the public library in Northampton, Massachusetts. It’s a simple space, dedicated, according to a brass plaque, to the memory of Julia and Rosa Watson, who made generous bequests. There are built-in cabinets with locked glass doors, full of old books, all bound in the same black with gold letters on their spines. Statistics of Coal. Geology for Beginners. Select British Poets, Hazlitt. Don Juan, Byron. Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Scott, volumes 1, 2 and 3. There are six long, wide windows with green blinds, which look out over the library parking lot. The cars and the people seem vivid but far away.