NO SAFE PLACE

In the early morning hours, in the dark before dawn, if I am awake, which I often am, I hear the driveway alarm beep beep, warning me someone has entered the premises.

Forty seconds later it beep beeps again. The newspaperman has driven round the circular driveway and tossed the news of the world on my doorstep.

The guests are sleeping peacefully in this bucolic place where they come for rest and relaxation, good music and fine dining, peace and quiet. The driveway alarm can’t be heard over on their side of the Inn.

Each day my husband rises before me. I stay in bed an hour longer, catching up on sleep lost during the witching hours, that time of night from three to five a.m. when I am tossing and turning the pillow to the cool side, ideas for stories bouncing around the dark room.

He starts the coffee, preps the apple smoked bacon, and retrieves the Hartford Courant from the front steps, placing it on the dining room table along with the pitcher of orange juice, the small bowls of jams and jellies, and the crystal decanters filled with local maple syrup from a man named Winter Mead, an appropriate name for a maple syrup maker.

I come down at eight, prepare the fruit for the breakfast plates and check the emails for reservations. As I serve the breakfast and clear the dirty plates, I glance at the day’s headlines. Rarely is it good news.

Heroin Use in the State Increasing. Stocks Plunge Worldwide. Police Search Putnam Ash Dump for Clues of Missing Couple.

Hardly a day goes by without someone dying at the wrong end of a gun. These stories don’t always make the front page. We as a society have become so immune to quotidian violence it no longer merits the headline.

Here at the inn, where a family of deer set off the driveway alarm on Tuesday morning, we had a few days of empty rooms ahead of us. An open window of opportunity to take time off before the busy foliage season.

We drove north, along the worn down spine of the Berkshire Mountains, across the Housatonic, the Farmington, the Westfield and the Deerfield Rivers, through small, picturesque New England towns with covered bridges, lakes and waterfalls, hiking trails, and quiet woods, making our way to the Green Mountains of Vermont where we spent two nights with friends near Brattleboro without wi-fi, decent cell service, or news. It was heaven on earth, if there is such a place in a world full of anger and violence.

The day we drove home there were no guests scheduled to arrive so we took our time driving back, making a detour to the town of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts where we walked across a bridge of flowers that was one of the loveliest sites I have ever seen.

The next morning coyotes howling in the hills preceded the nightly beep beep announcing the arrival of another day’s news. Rich woke early for one more round of vacation golf for there was no one in need of breakfast, and I slept in, coming downstairs in my bathrobe at nine, a rare luxury, to a pot of coffee, which I brought out to the grand living room in the Inn. My daughter had left yesterday’s paper on the dining room table.

Deadly Ambush on Live TV.

Two journalists doing a live broadcast on a southwestern Virginia TV station were shot and killed in front of their morning viewers. The Hartford Courant described it as a grotesque moment of TV.

The words on the page swam before my eyes. Deadly Ambush on Live TV. Live TV. Deadly Ambush. People in Virginia drinking coffee in their homes, getting ready for work, watched as two journalists were shot to death before their very eyes.

I am a day late to the story. I head to the front door to find today’s paper sitting on the bottom step behind the planter of flowers that are wilting after three days of neglect. I scan the headlines for a followup to the story. There is nothing on the front page. The news cycle has moved on.

A Local Republican Strategist Gets One Year for Stealing Public Funds.The High Cost of Traffic Jams: Connecticut Has Some of the Nation’s Worst Tie-Ups.Vets Homeless No More: Veterans Taken Off the Streets and Provided With Housing.

Time and time again those of us who would like to see sensible gun control laws enacted think the latest atrocity will be the story that breaks the NRA’s back, but like heavy fog, a sense of powerlessness envelops the country.

William Butler Yeats once wrote, “The best lack all conviction, While the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

This could be said about a lot of stories in the news these days but gun control is one of the more glaring issues where you would surely think “some revelation is at hand.”

Instead, the stories come and go with more and more frequency and less and less news coverage.“The blood dimmed tide is loosed.”

There is one thing you can be certain of. If it hasn’t happened in your town yet, just wait, for “everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned.”

We as a nation have put each and everyone one of us between a bullet and a target. There is no safe place in America.

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One thought on “NO SAFE PLACE

  1. Hi, Sheila, How is the life of an Innkeeper? I used to think that was a dream job when I was little-hearing everyone’s stories and adventures. Could you please give me your EXACT address? I imagine Labor Day you’ll working overtime with a full house, but it just might be I can stop by for a moment. My sister has a house near Great Barrington where I’m going to end up sometime this weekend. It would be such a kick to see you -even momentarily. Thats so cool you got Robert Ginet’s recommendation. How smart of tou to even ask! I wish I had. I think I sent him a book in the beginning-well, maybe just a note. Maybe seeing you will help regenerate my mojo. I’m also planning to see Jane who has a studio in Holyoke, my home town. I’m speaking at the Holyoke Rotary Club and the Southampton library on Tues, Sept 8. Crazy, right? So nice to stay in touch! Elizabeth

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