Robin MacArthur and Tyler Gibbons are Red Heart the Ticker (Photo by Doron Gild)

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.

Marlboro, Vermont-Hurricane Irene

“Hurricane Irene was pretty devastating around here. The road to and from our house was eviscerated in about 20 places…twenty-foot deep chasms where gravel and concrete used to be. Houses were lost, businesses were lost. There are the short term, disastrous effects of homelessness and trauma…” (Photo by Michelle Aldredge)

 

Hurricane Irene damage in Brattleboro, Vermont

Flooding from Hurricane Irene caused this house in nearby Brattleboro, Vermont, to collapse. (Photo by Acorn via Flickr Commons)

 

Red Heart the Ticker

Berries grow in the fields surrounding Margaret MacArthur’s Vermont farmhouse (Photo by Michelle Aldredge)

The Vermont back-roads are named for local landmarks and the families who have lived here for generations. Finally, after miles of twists and turns, I see the name I am searching for: MacArthur Road.

There have been MacArthurs here since the 1940s. Decades ago a young woman named Margaret MacArthur and her husban