Against the advice of the Sanchez brothers, who had recently
moved themselves and their families into two brand-new double-wides near the former site of Patchett’s Airstream, Kinneson
called the local game warden to report the killing of the doe
and his discovery of the fawn. Over the phone line he heard a
sound like a person sucking in air between his teeth. “I wish you
hadn’t told me that, Zeke,” the warden said. The warden called
his supervisor in St. Johnsbury, who called the head warden in
Montpelier, who showed up at Kinneson’s place the next morning
with his two subordinates and ordered Kinneson to release
the fawn back into the wild and let nature run its course. This
Kinneson refused to do. The coyotes, who lived on the ridge up
back, were nearly as large as the timber wolves their ancestors
had interbred with, and fully as ferocious, and would snap up an
unattended fawn within hours. The head warden shrugged and
told his employees to get the deer out of the barn and let it go in
the alders beside the river where, the following day, Kinneson
came across its bloody hide and partially eaten hooves. Nature
had run its course.
Above Kinneson’s maple sugar orchard, along the ridge-line
marking the west boundary of his property, a faint, north-and-south-running trace cut through the woods, now mostly overgrown with hobblebush, grey birch, and striped maple. Nearby,
at the top of the maple orchard, Kinneson and Elizabeth had
placed a granite marker inscribed with their names and birth
dates. Here their ashes would be buried in a single urn now
containing Elizabeth’s, which Kinneson kept in the pie safe in
her former pantry. The trace, which was known as the Canada
Post Road, and was owned by the township of Kingdom
Common, had been built in 1812 by Kinneson’s great, great,
great grandfather, Charles Kinneson I, whose aim it was to
attack Canada and annex it to Kingdom County. In the event,
Charles and his militia of would-be invaders were driven back
across the border by a dozen angry Quebecois habitants armed
with pitchforks and squirrel guns.
One afternoon Kinneson walked up through his maple trees
to check on the grave marker. The stone stood where he’d left
it, facing out over a prospect of most of the Kingdom. It was a
“My name is Ezekiel Kinneson. I own the last working farm in this town.
I milk one hundred and fifty cows, tap a thousand maple trees, fish the brooks that
run off that ridge and hunt along the Post Road. I am a seventh-generation Commoner
who does not care to be told what to do, or bribed into doing anything, by anyone.
For all these reasons, I’m opposed to the towers.”
beautiful place, but from just down the Post Road, Kinneson
heard voices. Through the underbrush, he made out two men in
white hardhats, coming his way with surveying instruments.
“Hello, old-timer,” one of the surveyors called out. “What
brings you up here?”
“My grandfather’s great grandfather built this road,” Kinneson
said. “What brings you up here?”
The surveyor handed Kinneson a business card with the
words “Northern New England Green Power” printed on it.
He told Kinneson that his company planned to buy the Post
Road from the township and erect twenty-one wind towers on
it. There would be an information meeting at the town hall in
Kingdom Common the following Thursday evening.
When Kinneson did not favor him with a reply, the surveyor
said, “Well, no rest for the wicked,” and made a small, dismissive
gesture with the back of his hand, as if to shoo Kinneson off
his own property. Kinneson’s grandfather would have wrested
the surveyor’s transit out of his hands and given him a severe
drubbing with it. His father, who made it a practice never to
leave his house unarmed, would have run off the interlopers at
gunpoint. This was a different era. As a rule, Kinneson did not
believe in taking the law into his own hands.
“Yes, sir, gentlemen,” he said, and started back down the
slope toward the farmhouse.
In general, Ezekiel Kinneson regarded meetings, including
Vermont’s fabled, grass-roots town meetings, as a waste of time.
In his view, the sole purpose of meetings was to find reasons
not to get things done. Patchett had disapproved of meetings,
too. It was one of the few things they’d agreed on. Therefore,
Kinneson’s neighbors were surprised to see him at Thursday’s
information meeting. “When did you make bail, Z?” old man
Potts brayed out at him as he entered the hall.
Green Power had hired a Burlington law firm specializing
in litigating environmental issues. The firm’s senior partner, a
meticulous man in his sixties, offered the township of Kingdom