Press "Enter" to skip to content

Dispatch From the Edge

By Peter Anderson

As you head into the good cheer of the holidays, you run into an old friend on the corner downtown between the bank and the post office who happens to be hauling a hydraulic wood splitter. And you have several piñons, decimated by an influx of beetles, which have been downed and bucked up into some gnarly rounds that would take most of a winter to split by hand. And she says, sure, I can drop the splitter by and leave it for a while. And then you spend a weekend with a few buddies and that wondrous piece of machinery and end up with enough wood to feed the stove for the next two winters. And later, you remember you have some aged rounds of juniper that haven’t been split and you share them with your daughter who thinks it’s great fun to wield the maul, which opens up the burgundy innards of this tender wood so readily. And as if that weren’t enough, your turkey is fat and wobbly on his skinny legs and ready to be slaughtered, but you have never done the deed before, so you need a little coaching, and another friend says, no problem, I’ll stop by on my way home from the community dinner, and she brings her twenty-two and a sharp knife and a lot of know-how, and within an hour or so, you have a ready-to-go turkey in the refrigerator. And now that the work is done,


you go down to the tavern, which is mostly empty except for a friend whose son is coming home for the holidays as is your older daughter, and you are both grateful that they have grown up here at the end of the road. Later, as you continue to reflect on your life, you feel such a strange disconnect between time spent in your community and hours spent listening to talking heads on weekend news shows. The practice of politics, at least in theory, can be a process that improves our lives, but when it comes to living the good life – which sure seems easier here in the flyover zone – neither pundits or politicians really have a clue.

Peter Anderson writes about geographical and cultural edges in this column and in a new collection of flash prose and prose poems called Heading Home: Field Notes published by Conundrum Press (