Two weeks after Hurricane Irene I’m wandering the back-roads of Marlboro, Vermont, making my way to Robin MacArthur and Tyler Gibbons, also known as the music duo Red Heart the Ticker.
Route 9–the main thoroughfare between Brattleboro and Bennington–is closed because of storm damage, so Robin sends me “the back way.” When her lengthy driving instructions arrive by email, she says, “I realize these directions sound crazy…your phone might work along the way, or might not…if you get lost just knock on a door and ask directions.”
On the drive I pass cows, orchards, and working farms. As predicted, my cell phone has no signal, but so far, there’s been no need to rely on the kindness of strangers. The dirt roads wind and curve. As I climb Ames Hill, I catch glimpses of the Green Mountains rising above barns and fields.
Although it’s been two weeks since Irene, the storm has left a mess in its wake. Water rushes through deep gullies and the road is like a washboard. I pass hand-painted signs that say Bridge Out and Road Closed. Totally impassable. Bridge gone. Dangerous gullies. No sightseers please.