"Time-traveling inside the Blue Line: A Conversation with Betsy Folwell," 4/4/18 Blue Mountain Lake

Betsy Folwell was a long-time editor of Adirondack Life and an award-winning writer; as well as a resident of Blue Mountain Lake for some forty years. Her essays for Adirondack Life are wide-ranging in her attention to history, nature, literature, people, and community. We spoke in early April. The snow had melted (mostly) and it appeared to be spring. I admit, I failed to ask if it had, indeed, made the transition, if she had yet seen or heard the extraordinary mating displays of the male American woodcock, displays mark the advent, as she explores in one essay.

Short Carries: Essays from Adirondack Life (Adirondack Life, 2009)

The Adirondack Book (with Neal Burdick) (Berkshire House, 1992)

Rick: I've heard the term "North Country" used to refer to a wide variety of geographic, socio-political, economic, and aesthetic regions in upstate New York. How do you see the Adirondacks within those realms?

Betsy: I think "North Country" for me feels more like the St. Lawrence Valley. The farmland, the river, that area. For a lot of political purposes, "North Country" has seeped all the way down to the Mohawk Valley. From a writer's perspective, I think if you deal with the mountains themselves, the lakes, the rivers, and the region more or less defined by the blue line, you get a region that has, I hope, a voice and a resonance for people. Champlain Valley kind of fits into the valley mentality, too. You're always looking toward what that big thing is in your landscape. Whether it's a mountain . . . you could see Blue Mountain if you wait for the fog . . . or a lake . . . like Lake Champlain or. . . . I think a writer often points to that as defining the specific landscape. I hope the region becomes as specific as locale.

For Adirondack Life, we want to be really inclusive because people who pick up the magazine may be in Old Forge or Northville or Keeseville, whatever. So it's always trying to keep those readers engaged. For me, the things that I enjoy doing and observing, spokes of a wheel, tributaries of a river, what gets me out into a landscape, that's what I'm going to respond to.

Annie [Annie Stolte, current editor of Adirondack Life] probably mentioned I'm legally blind; so in the last 17 years how I perceive things has changed pretty dramatically. A lot of times it's the physical sensation rather than the fact that there's a pine siskin at the bird feeder. Beats me, I don't even know where the bird feeder is.

Rick: You have an essay in Short Carries that is all about seeing. You appear to dismiss other human senses . . . the sense of smell and the sense of sound.

Betsy: No. I think that we can all become more multi-sensory. I'm astounded by just feeling the ground under my feet. Is it squishy, is it hard, is it muddy, is it wet? Is it dusty? Is it gravelly? I think for most people, we're visual creatures. Our eyes are where they are so that we can see forward. A horse and other animals like that have a different range.

Ours is more like a primate and any other critter that doesn't have a big nose to suck up all the smells. I try to remain a visual writer because I think that's what readers respond to. If I just wrote about going for a walk and smelling everything, I don't know how that would go. My responsibility, at least in Adirondack Life, is to keep the reader engaged.

Rick: A number of your essays address change, human change, by and large. You get that in "Egypt's Doghouse" and in much of the "Shades of Blue" section. And it's not just the arrival of McDonald's in a community. . . .

Betsy: Oh, no. I just finished a piece that's going to be in the November/December issue that's basically a walk around the block and finding evidence of lives that are really forgotten except for one tiny fact that the community has kept alive about them. Soon that's going to be gone, too.

I think in a rural place, these are threads that enrich the experience of being here if you understand who was here first. Not even first . . . second, third, whatever, but 20 years before, 40 years before, 100 years before. Because there are going to be common threads in the experience, or so it's been more or less in this location, on this road, which has really had these four houses since 1915.

Change is something you have to be aware of. It's not just McDonald's. It's acknowledging, accepting, and, on some level, embracing. There have been changes for the good. I've lived in Blue Mountain Lake since 1976, so Tom and I were pretty darn young when we moved here. And that's kind of where we bagged; it was from that era when we were really young and trying to make a business and getting to know our neighbors in the kind of personal ways you do when you work at a cash register.

For some absurd reason we're embarking on a new project, not as young people anymore. There's nowhere to eat in Blue Mountain Lake. You can wring your hands and say, "Oh, shoot, food desert." In 2015 we bought a vintage diner.

We had it trucked over from Cleveland. We're building the kitchen on it. This is an altruistic act, I think, rather than a hardcore business decision. So, sometime in 2018 there will be a place where people can eat in Blue Mountain Lake, for better or for worse. It looks cool.

Rick: Like an Airstream?

Betsy: Yeah. It's chrome and enamel and lozenge-shaped. The arched roof. It's the real deal.

Rick: With all . . .

Betsy: Yeah, yeah. The stools, it'll have five booths and tables, and eventually a deck. So we have plunged head-long into the restaurant business. Buying an existing place would be a heck of a lot easier because you wouldn't have to figure out the fire suppression system, for instance.

But, I digress. But it does have to do with change.

Blue Mountain Lake did this decline, as so many communities have. Moving from the resource extraction economy to basically working in the public sector or serving tourist needs, that's what the economy has collapsed into. Blue Mountain Lake used to have a barbershop and a taxidermist and two places that you could get milk. This was back in the day when it was economical to have those businesses. And people could drive to them and that kind of thing. But, anyway, I'm way off your whatever, but . . .

It certainly is sense of place and understanding the place. One of the pieces I'm going to work on, that I just need to spend some time in the woods, is how, if you really can read the landscape, you don't need a surveyor to know where property lines used to be.

We've lived in all but one house on this road. We used to live next door. I remember when we sold that house we had a survey, and it was like, duh, I could've just walked in the woods and found an old fence line.

We owned a lot on Durant Road and that, obviously, was open land more recently because the trees are all beech, about this big around. And this was all pasture. Everyone on this road right here had a view of the lake. And with their couple of sheep, and their cow and their horses, and I could've deduced all that just from what's there now. So I need to wait for a nice day and just start stomping around and figuring out why are there huge hemlocks there and why that's the only big conifer left. Well, too far away from any tanneries.

Pines all got taken and the big spruce got turned into lumber. McKibben did a cool thing. I don't even remember where it appeared but he sort of sat in his property in Johnsburg and did what is called a carefully controlled experiment. I just noted the bugs and the birds and evidence of this, that, and the other thing. It's charming. I don't think I need to do that but I'm fascinated. We have hawks nesting nearby and I know where they are because they're very territorial and they'll tell me. We had a bobcat die in our woodshed. And there are fishers in this little patch of woods. It's amazing diversity considering there are humans all around the perimeter of a not very big piece of land. But it's a diverse set of habitats within there, with wetlands, and tamarack swamp and that kind of stuff.

Rick: What's the November/December piece you're working on?

Betsy: It's about walking around and realizing, for instance, what connects a person to place.

For me, it's the stories of other people that continue to be shared and now they're just . . . they turn into cocktail facts rather than biographies. Walking this way, there's a little building that belongs to the phone company. In the woods next to that little building is a very ornate gravestone. Ridiculously ornate.

Rick: Just one?

Betsy: Just one. It's for a boy who died at the age of 10. It is not the kind of stone that you'd put near your house for a child that died. And there was never a cemetery there. It's just a puzzle. The boy died in the 1880s. On the property next to that, there's a flat field and it used to be where a lot of junk cars were.

In the 50s, there was a guy who lived in one of the junk cars. That was his home. Everybody knew that. I don't know what he did for food, I don't know anything, and everybody called him "Yes Yes." Yes Yes Mitchell. Any questions started out with, "yes yes" and the answer. But that's all I could get about him. I thought, "Well, wouldn't it be great to know how did somebody wash up in Blue Mountain Lake and live in a car?" So, I did that.

There used to be one general store. There was a bar, near the Catholic church, and one of the bar patrons had a team of mules, which is pretty unusual for this part of the world. He was an unusual guy. He'd get absolutely drunk and the mules would take him home. Couple of miles. They don't get excited about anything.

So, it's just little snippets of what used to be here and what it meant to a town, and, I guess, what it means to me. The personal essay thing.

Rick: When did everything close?

Betsy: It started probably in the '60s. We moved here in '76. There was an old diner and you could get three meals at Potter's Resort, which is on the corner by the gas station. There was a general store that was open May through October. There was more business in town. When Potter's closed, that was probably 10 years ago, that was a tipping point that I don't think anybody realized at the time. But to have a place that has breakfast, lunch and dinner, that was a big deal.

Back to McKibben again, he just wrote a piece for the Times about the little general store in Ripton being for sale. And he recognized that as a tipping point. He said, "Well, what's a town without a store?" And I'm thinking, "What's a town without anything?" We have a post office and I'm glad we have it, but they reconfigured the hours. It used to be there was a ritual to getting your mail. Mail was usually sorted by 10:00. Guys would gather at the firehouse, 9:00 to 10:00, get their mail, socialize a little bit more, head home. Now it's 12:00 to 4:00 and the social aspect of the post office has evaporated.

Rick: Really?

Betsy: Yeah. It's not a place where people spend any time. Nobody's hanging out on the steps or anything like that. We're grateful we still have a post office, but I don't think the powers that be realized that it would unhinge a certain aspect of community.

People still go to the fire hall from 9:00 to 10:00 and trade stories, gossip, gripe about the weather.

Rick: Nobody knows about Yes Yes down there?

Betsy: That's how I heard about him was one of these fire hall anecdotes.

Rick: Along this vein, what is it that just catches your attention and gives you that inspiration? I assume it's a kind of noticing but . . .

Betsy: Well, yeah, it is noticing. I regret the loss of my sight all the time because that used to be, oh my gosh, here's the first spring beauty, or from 40 feet away I could see the garlic was coming up. So being aware of surroundings is pretty important.

Being in new places is good, being in old places is good. Being physically somewhere is important, whether I'm skiing or paddling or talking to other people or walking. The other thing that's different is I can't read anymore. That happened real suddenly. I think when you actually read, turn pages, I think your memory is much better for what you're taking in. But I love big, big sweeping novels like A Gentleman in Moscow. Mark Halprin is one of my favorite authors because he always delivers. The most recent Mark Halprin I did was Paris in the Present Tense. And before that, In Sunlight and In Shadow. It's amazing storytelling. I'll miss him when he's gone.

Rick: Adirondack writers?

Betsy: They're not accessible. That's a problem. I'm trying to think if anybody has a reasonable audio book. Certainly Russell Banks' Cloudsplitter. I like Russell Banks, too. He's available through the Library of Congress Talking Books, which is pretty cool. But a lot of our regional writers are just . . . they don't have the following to record for a major company like Blackstone Audio or Hachette or whoever's creating audiobooks.

The way I work with a magazine, I listen to stories when they come in on my computer and a computer voice has no spirit. I can only judge it at face value. There's no nuance to it. So when there is something by Mason [Smith] or Ed [Kanze] or whomever, I hear it and it's got to really make some leaps to resonate with me.

It's more the medium than anything. If I was sitting in a comfy chair by the fire and reading a piece by one of those guys I'd probably be happy with it.

Rick: Okay. 20, 30 years ago, Adirondack writers?

Betsy: Oh, geez. I have read every issue of Adirondack Life. And I read all of Martha Reben's books. And An American Tragedy. I did not read Eben Holden. I tried, because I thought, "first Adirondack best seller," I should at least be aware of it. I read Mason's first book and listened to part of his latest that he just sent me as word files. I've certainly read poetry by Chase.

And . . . oh, gosh, there was something a couple of years ago that actually was accessible through Audible called Learning to Swim [Sara J. Henry]. It was fun because there were so many actual landmarks mentioned in passing, like Mr. Mike's Pizza in Lake Placid, or the ferry in Essex. But entertainment rather than reading for enlightenment or the other things you get out of reading.

Rick: Let's go back to Adirondack Life. What are your most memorable experiences as an editor of a regional magazine?

Betsy: The magazine started in Willsboro, 49 years ago. A bunch of rich guys. Peter Payne's grandfather. Four men who invested in this and they had very high hopes. The first issue said, "We will never accept advertising." Within two years they had advertising. It was a dollar an issue. Four bucks a year, mailed to you. It went from there to Keene. And then it was sold to a guy outside Syracuse, in Fayetteville. He didn't keep it very long. The current owner of the magazine picked it up for peanuts in, well, 35 years ago.

The fact that the ownership has been stable that long is unusual in regional magazine circles. Now what's unusual is how long staff sticks around. There aren't that many great jobs in the Adirondacks, and I think everyone I work with is pretty content with their work, what the magazine represents. It's a pretty forgiving workplace, too.

What's memorable about the magazine is watching people's reaction to it. I like to go to public places when we're handing out magazines or selling T-shirts and just have people come up. They'll react to something that they feel was, oh, just a couple years ago. It'll turn out it was 20 years ago, but it's that fresh in their mind, some little segment of fourth-lake history or a hike or something. People will say, "I'm a member of Adirondack Life." Not a subscriber. We've never pushed that kind of ownership membership aspect of it, but that's how committed people are.

Unfortunately, it seems like we're moving away from actually being that involved in what you read. There's so much anonymity in anything, like looking at Slate or Huffington Post.

It's hard. I don't think there is a parallel to sitting down with a magazine and looking at it because, for one thing, you're not multi-tasking. You're paying attention to what's in front of you. What's memorable about the magazine is the chance to be in contact. I used to say there are two kinds of people who send things to Adirondack Life. They're either people who know cool stories and can't write, or people who can write and need a cool story.

We're getting fewer of the people who can't write and have a cool story. But we get those, and we love them because the experiences are pretty raw. We can certainly help with sentence structure and grammar and organization. Increasingly we're seeking out writers who we think this is a subject matter you're familiar with, can you come tell the story from your perspective? Because a lot of times we're kind of in a silo.We miss that frequently. A lot of times the stories don't need context, they need to be that focused.

But, I think back to your question about what's changed. I think if you looked at any podunk town in northern Minnesota or Wyoming or the deep south where the resource base, the economic base, has just been eroded, you find the same issues. The bright kids leave and the center kind of coalesces and it becomes more and more clannish and family, a tight family thing. I guess then, from the magazine's point of view, documenting that in a way that's not condescending is good. For a young person, this is an amazing place to live if you want any engagement with the outdoors. The access here is unparalleled.

So, I'm baffled. Why is it that the fire department average age is 64?

Rick: One of the funniest stories in Short Carries is your adventure being stranded on an island. Were you trying to sink those boats?

Betsy: Oh, God, no. No. We were excited, the ice was out, here's a sailboat. Why would you bother to see if the plugs were in it? God, and that was when The Dyer was still operating in town. We finally got home and the swivel heads at the counter . . . it's like, "Oh, I see you didn't have to swim back." Oh, geez.

Yeah, accepting inexperience in a new setting is good. I'm happy to be a tourist when I'm a tourist. I don't feel the need to fit in or be an instant expert if I'm on the road. I want to absorb what I can.

Rick: How welcoming is the region to people from the outside who stay?

Betsy: Pretty welcoming. Because a lot of the people, who came from somewhere else, who stay, are fully engaged in the fire department, the ambulance. When there's something that requires volunteer effort, those of us are the backbone of the work that needs to be done.

Rick: And are the new people throwing in with the fire department?

Betsy: To some extent. They need to be invited. When we moved here, and people our age moved here, we understood the social contract. I don't think that's clear anymore. I think for generations of people who have grown up participating in fire departments, and garden clubs, or pick something that's a community endeavor, they get it. But our younger generation's absolving themselves of that responsibility, I think. I don't know. It's pretty hit and miss.

And in a town with only 140 year-round residents the need is critical that we have new blood in any of these things.

Rick: That's the population of Blue Mountain Lake?

Betsy: Yeah. You want to know everybody's names?

We used to do a census. We'd start at the top of the hill and come down, just count everybody by name. We still can, but . . . yeah. And there's another phenomenon happening that has been of interest to us, and this is not just Blue Mountain Lake, this is so many communities: Old Forge, North Creek . . . pick any community. Keene for sure. People who have seasonal homes and who come here as active retirees. A lot of times it will be the man of the couple who wants to be hunting and fishing and snowmobiling, or whatever, and the woman is maybe not so enamored of outdoorsy opportunities and feeling isolated. Those people have given up on Long Island or New Jersey or wherever, and really put down roots here. What happens to them as they really age in place? The services are not here except for your neighbors who are also getting older. It's tough. There are choices that are made that, at the time someone's active, seem terrific. But when your options are limited and your resources are limited, then aging in place is a tough thing.

Rick: That's a very different movement than in the '70s which was so much 'back to the land'.

Betsy: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I'd say my husband and I kind of qualify as that. We wanted to heat with wood and have chickens and . . .

Rick: Subscribe to Mother Earth News?

Betsy: Oh, well, actually I was a Blair and Ketchum's Country Journal fan. With great regret I sent them all to the dump. That was kind of my bible. But I'm sure there were copies of Mother Earth News mixed among them.

But, yeah, we raised pigs with friends a couple of times. The last pig was three years ago. Partly because I think understanding where your food comes from is pretty important.

Rick: You talk about chickens.

Betsy: Yeah, we're going to have chickens again. Partly because I'm not up at the magazine so much and we can take turns taking care of them. But it's fun. It's part of the daily round. We're making maple syrup. We're not boiling today. We'll boil probably tomorrow. Just being able to respond to whatever the season presents is pretty great. In a lot of communities seasonality just means the temperature changes. Here we're so aware of the days getting longer. I don't think that happens in the suburbs. And it's joyful when it's light at six o'clock.

Rick: We have dusk at eight o'clock now. It's a marvel.

Betsy: Believe me, man, that is one of the pleasures of being this far north is the whole notion of dawn and dusk being regions of time. Dusk can be two hours. There's twilight and civil twilight and there's all the variations of twilight is like this is a great thing. You go further south and the days tend to be very uniform. Down at the equator it's what? Always 12 hours of daylight. Sunset is like kaboom. It's gone. I think that's another aspect of place, though, is we're painfully aware of darkness at four o'clock. Or light at four thirty.

Rick: I have driven through late fall. You get into some of these valleys and it is dark. It is dark at four o'clock. So many houses don't get sunlight, it seems, after noon. I've always thought that would be very rough not to get enough light.

Betsy: Well, we moved this house. It used to be perpendicular to where it is. We swung it around and added windows and so light is pretty important to us. Every room has a view. Every room gets natural light.

Rick: Is this the house you wrote about in 2005? Plumbing from maybe the 1930's?

Betsy: Oh, no. That was the house next door.

Rick: With a Sears catalog kitchen.

Betsy: Oh, I wrote about moving this house and the things that we discovered when we moved it. This house had been in the same family since it was built, until we came along. The last owner was our Postmaster. So, the house was full of her stuff. Family memories, blocks of every stamp issued since she began working at the post office. That was fun. Buttons, fabric, shoes, many, many family photos, correspondence. On and on and on. The garage was full. But it was fun to sift through all that stuff. We saved a little bit. The house was built about 1915, probably from materials salvaged from the Prospect House uptown that was torn down roughly that year. There was a little building boom in town around then. There are a couple of houses on this road that are mirror images of each other, probably built with dimension lumber that came out of the hotel.

But there's a beam supporting the kitchen and part of the dining room that obviously was hand-hewn, obviously came from a barn somewhere. All the doors upstairs, I think, came from the Prospect House Hotel. And there's a piece of plywood in the basement that used to be a sign in the post office that's pretty cute. It's a letter with wings, says, "Air Mail."

Rick: Can we talk about the art of the essay? This is your genre.

Betsy: I guess. I do general reporting. I also love to write about people who are passionate about something, so a profile of a guy who's a fiddle player and fly tyer. That was easy.

A profile of a guy who fell in love with a building on Schroon Lake when he was 13 and by the time he was in his 50s he could afford to buy it. It was this wreck of a boathouse that looked like trolls built it. It's this kind of ersatz Norwegian half-timber kind of thing with . . . what do they call it? Pebble dash siding? It's insane. The building was a wreck. He just worked and worked on it for years, restoring the space that has cantilevered this and cabled that. It works for him and he'll never get his money out of it, but he doesn't care.

I've got a piece coming out that I really haven't started about Darcy and Bruce Hale, who own a couple of historic places on Hillsboro Point. I've always known about the stuff that came with these houses because there was a quarry there and it supplied stone for the Brooklyn Bridge. There was an apple orchard. There were a lot of different entrepreneurial things going on. When they bought the houses, there were dozens of quilts. There was 19th-century clothing. Musical instruments. 40,000 documents. They're in their 80s and they took it upon themselves to document everything, as well as restore these houses. Now that stuff . . . you think about what's the succession plan when you have a treasure trove like that. The documents are going to a library, the textiles are going to the New York State Museum, so they really kind of thought it all out. But that's just a sidebar.

And I like to write about doing stuff. Hiking, canoeing, whatever. So the art of the essay? I worry that some of my essays come out sounding like sermons.

Rick: I hadn't noticed that.

Betsy: Okay, well, thank you. I'm glad. Because an essay is always observational and it should reveal something about the writer.

It should reveal something that maybe a reader never made the connection for. It can be on tiny topic or a grand scheme. A lot of times when I'm writing it may not be the subject matter, it might just be the first paragraph that just, as E.B. White said about writing, "rises up on you like a welt." Because I was invited, I know the next issue of Blueline is about water. I started to write about water and then life intervened and I got doing too many different things, but I've kind of figured out that snow that falls on that side of the house goes to the St. Lawrence when it melts, and snow that falls on this side of the house goes to the Hudson.

But I'm going to bring it down to a more personal level. It's like, okay, so . . . is that water imprinted with anything about the territory it flows to as it goes to something bigger?

Probably not, of course, but let's imagine it could be.

Rick: Your technology essays . . .

Betsy: Technology. I'd love to be more part of the 21st-century as far as technology goes, well, in terms of accessing information and that kind of thing. I started doing a memoir about losing my sight. And then I thought, "Well, how the hell do you end a memoir?"

I thought that losing my sight meant that I would have a 19th-century life. That it would zero in on tightness of place, the daily round that somebody would do living up here. And then I realized that nobody else was doing a 19th-century life. So it would be the most isolating thing I could imagine because without a family to take care of and all the other things, defining it that way just wasn't going to work. At the time it seemed like, "Wow, what a great gift," I'll have all this time to do a beautiful garden or can all my vegetables. And no. You can't choose an era to live in when you're surrounded by two generations later. A hundred years later. You can if you're in a community that's like-minded.

There are some people who pick up aspects of that, but no, you've still got to get in the car, go somewhere to do things that you can't take care of at home.

Rick: Are you going to work on something longer? I don't think any of the essays in Short Carries are more than 2500 words.

Betsy: No, they're not. This memoir was pretty darn long.

Rick: Is it done?

Betsy: No, because I realized there could be a whole next step. Well, many next steps.

I haven't really decided. I did send it to some agents, and this was 10 years ago. They were positive, but I think that the competition is pretty brutal these days. So one of the things I thought of is the next aspect of the memoir was caring for my brother who has significant disabilities as a result of an accident when he was in Blue Mountain Lake for five years. He's in an assisted care facility in Arizona right now. But just kind of understanding his perspective on things.

I don't know if I'm going to go there or not. The memoir. I haven't looked at it in years. I think some of it is probably really cringe-worthy. Because I did keep a journal when I lost my first eye, and then once the other one went it was like, well, okay, here we are. I had to laugh. Did you see Frank Bruni's story "I May Be Going Blind"? He has the same neurological problem I do and I've been meaning to write to him and say, "Look, use what you got. If you lose it, you're not dead. You clearly have a strong community around you and you'll still be able to write just fine."

I wonder if there's a difference, my sight was gone in 2001, if you could see a difference between earlier work and anything after 2002. I wonder. Hope not. I would hope that I've grown as a writer.

Rick: Actually, the evolution of a writer is another question. Part of that is, do you have advice for yourself as a writer at 30?

Betsy: Oh, be disciplined. Don't be afraid of the first draft. I think people get so hung up on polishing, polishing, polishing every sentence rather than get it all down, sleep on it, come back and excavate, weed. Because I think computers make that so easy to just microscopically drill down to the level that means you've lost yourself in one damn sentence when you need to get a whole trajectory.

Rick: So, do you get the trajectory? Do you get the essay out, bang it out in a day? Two? Three?

Betsy: Sometimes it just goes. I'm glad for that. That's probably why most of them are pretty short. Other times I get hung up in the middle . . . wait a minute, A doesn't follow B necessarily and C is from outer space.

I was 30-something when I started at Adirondack Life, but, yeah. I think the other thing that young writers need to develop is a thick skin. That's what getting older is all about. There are failures in the systems and it might not be you, it might be on the other end. So welcoming criticism and suggestions, a lot of writers are terrible at that. And they assume that whatever they've done is the most highly-faceted stone in the setting of a perfect ring.

Rick: So you don't have a novel in you?

Betsy: I don't know. At times I think about it, yeah, I've figured out the pieces. And then I thought, "Oh, God, I'm still pretty goal-driven." And I thought, well, I could do all this work and then it just gets put in the equivalent of a little box that we bury in the yard.

Rick: Would it be about the region?

Betsy: It could be easily enough. But one of the linchpins is an event that happened here and it may be safer to place it somewhere else. But then again, most of the people involved in that event are gone, so it could be placed here. It involves horses. And car repair. And a lot of things. I could set it anywhere, I guess. No one would know the difference.

Rick: Even in the shorter pieces, I feel like you do sometimes have a process where you get halfway through and you step back and go do some research.

Betsy: And I think that historic bit may be the linchpin for the embroidery I do on each end.

Rick: A historical essay which you frame with the here and now.

Betsy: Mm-hmm. Yeah. You can time travel in a place like this pretty easily.