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  • Farms hold their breath as we pedal past. Sturdy no-nonsense houses, big and square next to big and square barns, whisper stories of used to be. Silos sprouting vines, sheds buckling at the knees sigh stories of now.

    Pastures stretch up hills to woods exhaling fire through their leaves. More horses than cows look up as we come close. A scatter of sheep. Almost no people. They all seem surprised to see us. It is terribly picturesque. The kind of place tourists hope to find as they wander the roads of Vermont.

    I feel the emptiness swell around me as two centuries of farm stories drain away, downstream, in those rivers that washed out so much last year. The whirring of my wheels is comforting. I pedal faster to fill my ears. To make my heart beat hard.

    Then up ahead—the scene fills with animals ambling down the road. Twenty brown milk goats and an old man trailing behind. He’s in no hurry. Neither are the goats. I stop so as not to scare them. I feel silly in my biking gear. I want to climb down and trail the goats with him.

    The old man turns to smile and say, “I never thought I’d end up a goatherd.”
    I smile and say, “They’re all moving right along. Thought goats were trouble.”
    “Well, they should be up that field.” He points the stick he’s carrying behind us to the right, across the road back aways. Just then the goats take a left hand turn up a driveway. He sighs and shrugs but doesn’t seem too concerned. Follows them.
    I pedal on.

    Just up the road we stop for water. Where we always stop. “Store closed in March,” says the woman raking the dirt outside. There’s no store for another ten miles or so.

    I pedal on.
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