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December 15, 2012

The Wilds of Connecticut

There is a place in Newtown called Ferris Acres Creamery, a working dairy farm that serves unbelievable ice cream. There’s no counter at the Creamery, no indoor serving area, just a couple windows where high school kids take your order for Moose Tracks or Elvis’s Dream or, my son’s favorite, vanilla with rainbow sprinkles. In summer, the parking lot is always filled with SUVs and minivans and motorcycles, people coming ] to sit outside in the warm weather, look at the cows, roll down the grassy hill, and eat ice cream with their neighbors.

Last night people gathered in Newtown for a different reason. Like millions of others, I watched portions of the service from St. Rose of Lima, a Roman Catholic church just down the road from the Starbucks. The faces I saw on television are faces I know, faces we all know, faces we have seen so many times over the years. In my case, though, never so close to home.

When the reports first came in yesterday, I was at home, ten miles from Sandy Hook Elementary. I called my wife downstairs to tell her what was going on, and while we were both startled, the initial information was that shots had been fired and that somebody had been transported to the hospital with a foot injury. And then we were told it was going to get a lot worse. How much worse we could not have imagined. Not here.

Emails started arriving from our school district. Classes would be dismissed as usual. Police were arriving at all the schools. No, they hadn’t informed the little ones what happened. They enclosed some tips for how to talk to the kids when they get home.

When the bus finally came, I met my daughter at the driveway. “How was school?” I asked. “Good,” she said. When we got in the house, I gave her a big hug and told her I love her. “Your breath stinks,” she said. That was fine by me.

After my son got home an hour later, I hugged him too and told him I loved him. “Whatever,” he said. And that was fine, too.

We sat the kids down and told them what happened. Something bad. People had been killed, including children. You guys are safe, though. Do you have any questions? No. Okay. We love you. We’ll always love you. Yes, you can play videogames.

For dinner, we had our Friday night regular: pizza. We played Uno. We sat by the fire.

Before she went to bed, my daughter asked my wife if it had been especially windy outside today. “I don’t think so,” my wife said, “Why do you ask?”

“Oh, because it looked really nice out but the teachers said there was a storm so we couldn’t have outdoor recess.”

My wife and I held each other for a long time in bed this morning and after a while, our daughter got in bed with us, too.

It’s a bright, sunny day here in the wilds of Connecticut where I live, a perfect December day. That’s what I call it when people ask me where I live - “the wilds of Connecticut” - because Connecticut, while rural, is a manicured wilderness. The gravest danger any of us normally face is hitting a deer while driving.

The Creamery is closed today. The churches are open.

 

 

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Pattie

Absolutely lovely. You are such an amazing writer.

lauroo61

I am in tears. Even though I am on the other side of the country, I can't seem to stop the tears from falling for all those beautiful children and their devastated families. I cry for a lovely community which has been shaken to its core. And I cry for the many families, like yours, who are having to figure out how to keep their children safe in an increasingly mad world. And I am thankful for all those families who woke up whole this morning.

Jeff

Thank you for this. I met my kindergarten age daughter at the bus stop yesterday, gave her a hug and was greeted with "Stop it!". Best hug ever!

Shar

Wow. Thank you for sharing. I pray your story helps you and the people of your community heal.

Renee'

I'm afraid things will never be the same for that lovely neighborhood and its good people. The media swarm will give way to unwanted notoriety along with new rules, restrictions, and fears. After the shooting at NIU, my daughters high school instilled rules on purses (only allowed in miniature sizes so as not to house guns), tote bags (clear plastic only), backpacks (prohibited), and the like. A policeman was stationed at the door each morning, as well. Your community will undoubtedly do something similar. We do what we can to keep our nations children as safe as possible, I guess. But no one can predict the insane actions of an unhealthy person. Or how a tragic event will affect people in the months and years to come.

That said, I'm glad your children were safe from harm, Michael. Thanks for sharing your feelings so eloquently. <3

andrea

I thank you as well for this Mike-so relieved you and your family are safe xoxo

Larry Rivkin

Thanks Michael, hug the all a little closer now

Rob

Nicely done Michael....the comedy can wait another day.

Katie Scott

Oh Johnny Blue Jeans, so glad your family is ok & thanks for sharing. P.S. We had that same sort of talk with our kids with about the same reaction.

Lisa

Beautifully written. Thank you.

Laura

Thank you for this.

Cam

Wow- I didn't know how close you live to what happened. Thanks for writing this.

googlymoogly14

Blue Colony Diner....when we'd be driving back to Ridgefield from Maine or Cape Cod or my inlaws on the other side of the state, we knew we were almost home when we hit exit 10 and the Blue Colony Diner. We're in Nebraska now, but I've been grieving for the folks of Newtown, and now this morning my friends in Ridgefield had to deal with lockdown and panic. If this is the "new normal", it totally sucks.

Thanks for this "just right" report from the Wilds of Connecticut

Jacquie

Read this when you posted it on twitter Friday; came back to it today. So touching. As a parent, I'm stuck on "shocked and horrified" and can't really believe anyone is talking about anything else. It doesn't seem real. Thanks for writing this and all of your spot-on tweets in the past few days - I'm right there with ya.

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Hitting a deer while driving is a dangerous thing to happen. Maybe driving slowly is better to avoid accident. Great story!

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I'm afraid it will never be the same, lovely streets and good man. Media group will give unnecessary reputation along with new rules, restrictions, and fear. In after the shootings, in the little girl, my daughter into high school rules in the purse (is allowed only in miniature size in order to avoid the house gun), tote bag (transparent plastic only), backpacks (banned), etc. A policeman stationed at the door every morning, and. Your community will undoubtedly do similar things. We do our best to make our country children as safe as possible, I guess. But no one can predict a kind of unhealthy crazy behavior of the people. Or a tragic event will influence people in the months and years to come.

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