With apologies to the Beatles, the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, and the state of Vermont.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Chapter One: Luna Buys the Farm

Let's begin with a little tune.

     "Now somewhere on a small farm south of the Northeast Kingdom there lived a young woman named Luna Lagoon..."

When Luna was five she figured out how to use an old pair of circus stilts that some visitors had left behind to reach the pedals of the tractor and she began helping out on the farm.  Since she was an only child and her parents didn't have the time or money to hire farmworkers, this made her father very happy.

By the time Luna was ten, she was managing produce for the farm. She had set up a farm stand by the road and was doing a brisk business with the passerbys.  Occasionally, someone would ask her parents if she wasn't a bit young to be working for them.  They didn't have a good answer for this.  Neither one of them wanted to admit that they were practically working for her.

And then, when Luna was sixteen...

     "...one day her man-friend ran off with another guy.  Hit young Luna in the thigh.  Luna didn't like that.  She said..."

"I'm swearing off men.  I'm going to start a commune."

"Are you sure, dear?" her mother said.

"How do you even know what a commune is?" asked her father.

"One of your visitors left this behind." Luna held up a pamphlet entitled 'The Confederacy of Equal Opportunity Communes'.  "See, down south there are places like Three Sycamores, which is huge and has been around since the sixties, and Dirthill Farm and Southern Breeze and a new commune called Old Corn.  Doesn't seem hard to do.  I think we need a commune up here."

"You've got to do what you think is best," said her mother.

"You're crazy," said her father.

Luna went out and began plowing the fields with a vengeance.

Two years later the recession hit.  Farmers were trying to get rid of their land, but no one was buying.

Luna discovered that there was a farm for sale not far from where she lived that was going for a song.  Well actually, the housing market hadn't hit bottom yet, so it might have been a song and a half.  It seemed affordable anyway.

Luna had been saving money, and her ex-best male friend and his pretty city boyfriend felt maybe a smidgen guilty about leaving her in the lurch so they agreed to help her out. (City boy also had a nice inheritance to live on and felt more than a little guilty about that.) Plus the bank was eager to unload what they saw as a worthless property.  Soon Luna was standing on the edge of her own farm.

It was just forty acres of mud and clay in a valley between the river and the Green Mountains, but Luna thought it was a bit of Eden.  It was a couple of miles from the nearest town, and that town consisted of a general store and a gas station, but Luna thought it had charm.  The farm itself had three large rickety buildings that Luna figured could house maybe a dozen people.  And nothing had been grown on the farm except weeds for the better part of a decade, but that didn't discourage Luna.

She figured all she had to do was find some folks and they could have a communal farm.  So where, oh where, were all the hippies when you needed them? Luna wondered.

   "Now the preacher came in, thinking of sin, and proceeded to cry at the table..."

Dan's draft-dodger dad had hitchhiked his way to Canada.  He settled in and started a growing family just south of Montreal.  He later got religion (of the non-denominational, humanistic sort) and formed the Church of Living Energy.  His Sunday sermons were a bit more entertaining than the weekend television programming, so the church was pretty full most weeks.  But his youngest son wondered about life beyond the provinces.

When he got older, Dan decided to hitch down to the states.  It took him a couple of days, but he made it across the border and on three rides he got as far south as a small town with little more than a gas station and a general store. He stopped in at the store for supplies and noticed a flyer on the bulletin board that said "Commune Starting.  Serious inquiries only."  It gave an address a couple of miles down the road.

Dan got a ride out of town after only three cars passed him by and he asked the driver to let him off by the green 'Commune!' sign.

There was a dirt path past the sign leading to three large, dilapidated old houses.  Flecks of paint still clung hopefully in places to the weathered wood.  Daniel wondered briefly if anyone actually lived there when a young woman in faded flannel and old jeans walked onto the middle porch.

"Ya here for the commune?" she said.

"Yep.  Where is everybody?"

"Right here.  There's you and me and that's twice as many folks as there were before you arrived.  You know how to work a farm?"

"Nope. But I'm willin' to work and I'm willin' to learn."

"Well, I guess you'll do.  Now we just gotta find some more folks."

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