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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Chapter One Hundred and One: Stan! Again!

“Don’t say it, Sal!”  Stan said.  “It’s gonna be different this time!”

“Different how?” Sal asked.

“I’ve changed!  I’m a new man!  I’m ready to work and work hard!” said Stan.

“This I have to see,” said Sal.

“Oh, sweetie,” said Nancy.  “Give him a chance.  He just got here.”

“Yes!  A chance!” said Stan.  “It will be different!  I’ll show you!  You’ll see!”

“I’ll believe it when I see it with my own eyes,” Sal said.

“You wait!” said Stan.

“I certainly will,” Sal said.

“Okay, Stan,” said Luna.  “What kind of work are you willing to do?”

“Whatever you need!” Stan said.  “I’m ready to work hard!”

“Okay, then,” Luna said.  “The construction crew can use a bit of help moving stuff on and off site.  They’re expanding the kitchen.  You can start tomorrow.”

“No problem!  I’m on it!” Stan said.


By the next evening, the entire commune was nonplussed.

“You’re kidding me,” Darren said.

“I’m not,” said Mo.  “I mean I’ve heard all the stories about Stan and I expected his participation to be a joke.  I was impressed and I mean it.  He worked as hard or maybe harder than any of us, he did whatever he was told, and he was actually cheerful about it all.  The whole team is in shock.”

“Never mind the construction crew,” Nancy said.  “The whole commune is in shock.”

“There’s Sal,” someone said.

“Don’t say it,” Sal said.  “I’ve heard it from everyone and I’m still trying to take it in.  It’s like one of those sci fi films where someone switches bodies and brains.  I want to ask, what have you done with the real Stan?”

“Maybe it’s just a one day fluke,” Luna said, “but I’m ready to let Stan stay.  Are you willing to go along Sal?”

Sal sighed.  “What choice do I have?  I’ll bet it’s just a one day fluke but it’s going to be hard to say no after hearing all the glowing reports from the construction team.  I’ve worked with those folks.  They’re not gonna say he worked hard unless he worked hard, and from what I’ve heard, he worked hard.”

“I’m gonna tell him he can stay here as long as he’s willing to work,” Luna said.  “Anyone have any objections?”

A dozen bewildered folks shook their collective heads.

Fifteen minutes later, Stan staggered in.

“How are you doing?” Cat asked.

“Okay…” Stan said in an oddly slow and quiet voice.

“Stan,” Luna said.  “I’ve talked with everyone here.  You did great work today.  You want to stay, you’re more than welcome to stay.”

“Thanks…” Stan muttered.  “Sorry… I’ll be taking off tomorrow…”

“Are you leaving?” Dan asked.

“Yeah…” said Stan.  “This place involves way too much work…”

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Chapter One Hundred: Two Years!

“Wait,” said Luna.  “I just realized that our communal anniversary was last week.”

“Whoa, that’s right,” said Dan.

“That’s no reason for not having a celebration next week,” said Nancy.  “I’ll send out invitations today.”

“Thanks, Nancy,” said Sal.  “I’ll start organizing folks to organize it.”

She went into the dining hall where several of the newer folks were gathered.
“Anyone want to help organize our two year anniversary party?” she asked.

“This place is only two years old?” said Angel.  “I thought it was like fifty.”

“No,” said Sal.  “You’re thinking of Three Sycamores.  They’re nearly fifty.  We’re a pretty new commune.”

“Yeah,” said Candy.  “I remember a couple of years ago when my father told me a bunch of weirdos had bought this farm.  I never dreamt I’d be living here now.”

“Do you still think that we’re weirdos?” asked Angel.

“Yeah,” said Candy, “but I think that you’re a bunch of pretty nice weirdos.”

“I can live with that,” said Winter.


A week later, the celebration was going strong.  Sweet as Syrup was just finishing their set and everyone was dancing.  It was hot and humid and it looked like it might rain any minute.  The climax to their last song was a loud final chord, a louder drumroll, a flash of lightning, and an even louder explosion of thunder.

Within seconds, the downpour began.  The Green Mountain Boyos, who were getting ready to play, helped the Sweet as Syrup band get their instruments and equipment to shelter.  The food seemed unaffected until the canopy blew away.  Drenched folks struggled to rescue whatever they could.

The rain seemed to permeate everything.  Soaked and shivering, party-goers huddled on the porches of the commune and watched the celebration turn to a soggy, muddy mess.

Then Sal started laughing.  

“It’s not funny,” Dan said, but Luna started laughing too and was quickly joined by Cat, Chuck, Winter, and Dandelion.  Bob’s boisterous baritone belly laugh bellow rang through the spreading  hysterical roar.

Dan even found himself chuckling as the whole commune dissolved into a whooping mass of out of control hilarity.

As the chortling slowly died down to giggling, the downpour dwindled to a light rain and slowly dropped away.

Folks started venturing out, the food was brought back, and the Green Mountain Boyos began to set up to play.

“See,” Luna said to Dan.  “It all works out well in the end.”

“It usually does around here,” said Ed.  “Happy second anniversary.”

“Look,” said Fred.  He pointed to the sky where the clouds were parting and a rainbow was materializing.

The whole commune began clapping, along with Ralph and Ed, and Peter and George and Fred, and Steve and Amanda, and the Troll, and a host of parents.  

“Happy anniversary!” resounded almost as one voice.

Luna was almost in tears.

“I’m so glad that you’re all here,” she said.

“Me, too!” said a familiar voice from behind the crowd.  “It’s good to be back!”

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Chapter Ninety-Nine: Viv, Cat, and Marge Visit the Old Neighborhood

Viv was sitting next to Cat at lunch one day.

“You know,” Viv said, “I heard a plane fly overhead a couple of days ago and it was low and it startled me.  I wasn’t used to the sound.  Then I remembered I used to hear that and worse all the time a couple of years ago.”

“Yeah,” said Cat.  “I know what you mean.  We lived with it all the time.  Now  it seems like a dream.”

“Hey,” said Marge, who overheard the conversation.  “The two of you weren’t even there when the plane nearly landed on our street.  Remember, Darren?”

Darren looked at them and shook his head.  “Brings back memories I’ve tried hard to forget.”

“You ever wonder what the place looks like now?” Viv asked.

“No,” said Cat.

“I do, now and then,” said Marge.  “You thinking of going back and visiting the place?”

“Yeah,” Viv said.  “I haven’t been off the commune in over a year.  It’s the middle of August, we’ve been working in sun every day, and I need a break.”

“Yeah, I need a break, too,” Cat said.  “But why not go to the beach?  Why go back there?”

“We could stop off at Revered Beach on the way,” Marge said.  “I think it sounds like fun.  We could go this weekend.  You interested, Darren?”

“Not this time.  I’ve got a triple date with Chuck and Winter this weekend. But you folks could have a good time.”

Viv looked at Cat.  “What about you?  Are you in?”

Cat looked at Viv and Marge’s expectant faces.  “I suppose so.  Only because it’s with the two of you.”


“Wow,” said Marge.  “Borderline Way.  The docks and the brick and the stone walls and…”

“The planes coming down,” Cat finished when they could hear again.

“Believe it or not, I sort of miss the place,” Viv said.  “I could look out on the water from my window.  I used to spend hours watching the planes come in.”

“I don’t miss it a bit,” said Cat.  “I lived here almost five years and it all seems so foreign to me now.”

“Oh my,” Marge stared at the airliner approaching them and drew in her breath.  “I think it’s coming right at us.”

“It does look low,” VIv said.  “But I remember lower.”

“Yeah, but you weren’t there for the plane that took down the neighborhood,” Marge said.  “I think I’m having PASS.”

“PASS?” asked Cat.

“Post Aircraft Stress Syndrome,” said Marge. “I keep flashing back to that day and the sirens and…”

“Let’s get out of here,” Viv said.  “I’ve seen enough.”

“Can we go to the beach now?” Cat asked.

Marge was still staring out at the water even though the plane had gone by and landed.

“Yeah,” said Viv.  “Now I’m remembering all the reasons I left this place.  I’ve had more than my dose of it.  I don’t think I’ll need to come back.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Marge said.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Chapter Ninety-Eight: Candy’s Father Visits

It was a busy Tuesday morning when Candy’s father showed up at the commune.  Grace answered the door.

“Can I help you?” she asked.

“Is this the commune?” he asked in reply.  He made the word sound like calm-MEWN.

“Yeah, it is.  Looking for something in particular?”

“My daughter,” he said.  “Can I come in?”

“Come on in,” Grace said and opened the door wide.

He was a tall man, graying at the temples, and wearing a faded flannel shirt.

“Who’s your daughter?” asked Grace.

“I think she goes by Candy, unless she’s taken some new name like Sunflower Rainbow.”

“Nope,” said Grace.  “She still using Candy.”

“Is your name Sunflower Rainbow?”

“Nope, again.  My name is Grace.”

“That sounds like a nice ordinary name.  What kind of hippy commune is this anyway?”
Ken poked his head into the room.

“Can you find Candy?” Grace asked him. “I think that she’s in the kitchen.  Tell her that her father is here.”

“Sure,” said Ken.  “I’ll be back with her in a minute.”

After he left, Candy’s father tried again.  “So was that Sunflower Rainbow?”

“No,” laughed Grace.  “That was Ken.”

“Boy, this commune is a real disappointment.”


“You really like it here?” Candy’s father asked her when they were alone in a back room.  “No one’s making  you do drugs or anything?”

“Daddy!” Candy screeched.  “I haven’t ever seen anyone here do drugs.  Everybody’s busy working, farming or building or cooking or cleaning or working in the stands.  We work hard here.”

“It seems like a nice place,” he admitted.  “The folks I’ve seen were polite and nicely dressed and didn’t even have weird names.”

“It’s a really good place.  They’re really sweet here and they care about each other.  I’m glad I’m here.”

“Okay,” her father said.  “I’ll tell your mother that you’re doing okay.  She was a little worried about you.”

“Yeah, tell her that I miss her,” Candy said.  “I’ll come by this weekend.”

Zelda rushed into the room.  “Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize you had company.”

“We’re just finishing up,” Candy said.  “I’ll be back in the kitchen in a couple of minutes.”

“Okay,” Zelda said.  “See you soon.”

“Wow,” said Candy’s father when Zelda left.  “She looks just like your grandmother.”

“I know,” Candy said, “I’ve told her that.  I think lots of old ladies look like that.”

“Okay, as long as I know that you’re fine.”

“Yeah, I’m great,” Candy said.  “I’ll walk you out.”

Once her father left, Candy cut through the dining room on her way to the kitchen.  Sowbug and Earthworm were there, hanging out, talking.  Angel and Winter and Chuck came in.  Winter and Chuck were wearing nearly matching peach and magenta gowns with clunky brown boots and striped socks.

“No weird names.  Nicely dressed.  Right,” Candy muttered.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Chapter Ninety-Seven: What Sal was Up To

“You just don’t seem yourself these days, sweetheart,” Nancy said.  “I think that you should make up with Dan once and for all and get back into the swing of things.”

“I don’t know,” said Sal.  “It feels like ever since Dan and I started disagreeing about the construction work, everything’s started coming apart.”

“It’s just your pride,” said Nancy.  “Why don’t you just apologize to Dan and get it over with?”

“Because at this point, it’s not just about one or two things.  These days we seem to disagree about everything.  And I know that he’d hate what I’m planning now.”

“What are you planning now?”  asked Nancy.  “Everybody thinks that you’re up to something but nobody can figure out what.”

“I’ll give you a clue,” Sal said.  “What’s the one thing that would make this farm work enormously better?”

“I have no idea,” Nancy said.  “I can think of lot of things that would improve this place a little bit, but I can’t think of one thing that would make a huge difference.”

“You’re not thinking hard enough,” Sal said.  “How about having a new business?”

“A new business?  Aren’t we busy enough?”

“Well, I’m not busy enough.  They don’t really need me in the produce stand and the construction crew doesn’t want anything to do with me.  And I figured that a new business would get us in even better shape financially.”

“What kind of business?” Nancy asked.

“Well, you know how Old Corn really made it as a community once the Indecent Exposure Seed Exchange got going,” Sal said.

“Yeah, you and I worked with them for a couple of years, picking and packing weeds and seeds..”

“Well, I’m thinking that we could do the same thing here.  I’ve been gathering up seed from the stuff the produce and farm crew have been dumping and I think I’ve collected enough of it to start drying and packing it.”

“So what would you call this new business?” Nancy asked.

“OverExposure Seed Exchange,” said Sal.


In the commune meeting that week, Sal outlined her plan.

“I see this as a really smart, additional source of income, and something that the Old Corn community has done really well with,” she said.

“Hey,” said Sally.  “I can help with this.  Things in the fields are slowing down and with Angel and Bob and Chuck and Patsy all working away, I’m always looking for more things to do.”

“Yeah, I can spare Sally,” Luna said.  “How much income do you think we can get selling seeds?”

“They make billions at Old Corn,” said Sal, “but we’re just starting out, so I’d say a couple of hundred.”

“And that would be a couple of hundred more than we have now,” added Nancy.

“I think that it’s a great idea,” said Dan.  “I’d support it.”

“Thank you, Dan,” said Sal.  “That means a lot to me.”

“It’s a really good idea,” said Darren.  “But I don’t like the name.  I think that the exposure thing has been truly over exposed.”

“What should we call it then?” asked Sal.

“Excuse me,” Candy said, raising her hand.  “Can I suggest something?”

“Sure,” said Sowbug who was running the meeting.  “Once you start living here, you’re a part of everything and in these meetings everyone should get a chance to speak.”

“Well, if Sally is also part of this new seed business,” Candy said, “why not call it Sal and Sally’s Strategically Selected Seeds?”

“Sal and Sally’s Seeds,” said Sorrel.  “I like it.  It’s got a ring to it.”

“Sure does,” said Zelda.

“Okay,” said Sal.  “Unless anyone has any objections, it’s now Sal and Sally’s Strategically Selected Seeds.”

“Any problems with this?” asked Sowbug.  Everyone shook their heads.  “Alright, I think we have a new business.”