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Winter in the Village of Newfane, Vermont

Winter in the Village of Newfane, Vermont
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“Boston said only a couple of inches,” I put in.

“What do they know?” George asks.

Approximately the same conversation is to be heard from one end of town to the other. The villagers shake their heads and go about their business as best they can, but not without having a rueful little laugh together at winter, and at themselves as winter’s unwilling servants. Winter is an ordeal that is not avoided or defeated, but shared. Therefore, it’s in the depths of winter that the village is most perfectly a community. We pay attention. We focus. We set things around our houses to rights. We lay in supplies at the village store. We know the snow falls on all alike, sending male and female, young and old, rich and poor slipping and sliding helplessly into the ditch. Winter puts us all in the same boat.

It puts us all in the same boat, but it does more: It makes us almost glad to be there—something that cannot be accomplished by talent or hard work or strong character, but that can be accomplished by humor. Winter breeds wits as summer breeds mosquitoes. What you can’t avoid or overcome you must endure, and humor aids endurance. John is on his way home to work on his driveway. He had it nicely cleared last evening, but the town plow came along in the night and left a ledge of snow the size of the Hoover Dam where the driveway meets the street. John has a heavy job ahead of him.

“See you fellows later,” he says. “I’ve got a lot of snow to shovel.”

“I don’t know why you bother,” George says. “I mean, in six months most of it will be gone.”

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