As I’ve said before, being a writer was tops on my “when I grow up” list right up to the
point I succumbed to the beckoning call from our family farm. Yup, I had visions of using the God-given talents several of my early teachers said I had, getting schooled in journalism and going to work for a big city newspaper. One of those early teachers recently surfaced right here at Morse Farm.
I was downstairs packing syrup when the message came that I had a visitor up in our store. I finished the jug I was working on, turned off the syrup valve, and went on up. “Probably just a salesman,” I thought as I entered the store, rounded a corner and almost ran into Joe McEntyre. I recognized him immediately because Joe, as opposed to me, seemingly hadn’t aged since my seventh-grade year at Four Corners School in East Montpelier.
The difference between a good teacher and a great one is the ability to sniff out a student’s potential and begin tweaking that student toward a matching goal. Joe McEntyre was that kind of great teacher. He was young, in fact, only a student teacher at the time, but he zeroed in on my writing talents early on and pushed me along almost painfully. Out of it, I got a message I’ve never forgotten: that I could be a writer.
The demands of a young family and a family farm gave my professional writing a lag time of almost 40 years, but finally it sputtered back into my life. It began with an email newsletter for our business and grew to include a newspaper column and on into three books that list me as the author. I feel very grateful for that first “shove” at Four Corners School and the never-ending support from you, my wonderful readers.
Although I’m primarily a farmer, income from my writing has become important here at Morse Farm. It’s especially gratifying when, through grueling hard work much like I do on the farm, I can see direct results from my writing. It kind of ties the two fields together, in fact.
Back in early summer, once again, I was hailed to the front of our store for a lady who wanted to see me. When I got there, an elderly couple, whom I recognized from our neighborhood, sat out front on our patio chairs. The woman rose like a person 20 years younger, gave me a very warm hug and kissed me on the cheek. “I’ve been needing to do that,” she said, “ever since you wrote that column on charley horses.”
She went on to say that painful charley horses had plagued her at night for much of her life. In an earlier column, I had written that I occasionally have that charley curse, and received a tip from one of my readers: “Sleep with a bar of soap in your bed. Those charleys’ll go away.” In fact, I received so many suggested remedies that I later wrote a whole column on the things. This woman had read my column in the newspaper, tried the soap cure, and voila — she was cured!
Recently, I was shopping down at Shaw’s supermarket when a man came up to me. “You’re Burr Morse, aren’t you? Recognize you from the newspaper,” he said. He went on to say that his wife had fought cancer for the last four years and my reported charley horse cure had saved her huge amounts of agony. I told him how much I appreciated his report, wished his wife well and walked away feeling glad to have helped.
I never did get to work for a big city newspaper, and that’s probably just as well. I’ve had a good life here on the farm and, heck, among my “harvest” has been three books and a bumper crop of columns. The farm has given me so many varied experiences and things to write about, but the two folks mentioned above top the list. When I can help a person to feel better just by picking up a pen, that kind of satisfaction is like the maple syrup we make here —100 percent pure!
Burr Morse lives in East Montpelier.
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