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A Long Time Ago

There is snow on election day, five inches or more. Soft snow. Cold snow. Good snow. I ski at first light, straight down the gravel road, along the shoulder, where the plow has cast what it cleared from the center. That familiar cadence, the push-and-glide, the quick breath. Down past Dan’s, and onto Skunk Hollow. In nearly an hour, I see two cars. It’s still snowing when I return. The light is hazy. I feel buoyed.

Later, at the end of the day, I ride my bicycle a half mile to the town hall to count votes. I’ve never done this before and am surprised by how gratifying it feels to unfold the ballots, then divide them into neat stacks of 25 (four stacks, plus one stack of 14, comprising the 114 total cast in this little town; an unprecedented turnout), then record the individual votes, a tick mark for each in the appropriate column. It is so pleasingly analog; pencil and paper, the mask-muffled murmur of voices from the other two teams of counters, our breath made visible in the condensation beading on the old single pane windows that line the east wall.

It takes barely an hour, and then I’m back into the dark, riding home in the cold, right past the ski tracks I left in the morning, which already feels like such a long time ago.

13 thoughts on “A Long Time Ago”

  1. Absolutely love this post.(hearing Lou Reed’s ‘O What a Perfect Day’!).It has been a stunner in the NEK mountains so far.

  2. Thanks for this post, Ben. I love the sight of snow as it gives me peace and just reading about it does exactly that.

  3. Ben, your writing is crystal clear and vivid, making me feel like I’m right next to you on your ski or bike journey. Please keep up the terrific, engaging writing — stories about a life that I probably would never experience outside of your writing!

  4. 75 in Omaha today, warm enough to do yard work in shorts and a t-shirt.

    Seems like we’re going to replace an arrogant man with a senile man, maybe we’ll get it right in 2024.

  5. I wonder if you were tempted to look at the names of who voted for who? :} When I went to cast my ballot, the lady by the machine was staring right at it. I didn’t like that so I put my body in her way so she couldn’t see…hope she got the hint. This election can totally kiss my ass by the way.

      1. Hi Ben…I kinda wish people would leave politics out of this blog. This is sort of sanctuary for me, and I’m sure others, to get away from all of the hardcore vitriol that politics creates these days. I read your writing and everything else disappears for awhile. There are a billion other blogs for folks to talk / write politically.
        Thanks, just wanted to say this.

  6. Hi Ben
    I am very fascinated by your writing skills. It surely is very good, I’ll like to ask a few questions if you don’t mind
    Have you always been very good at writing or is it something you developed over time?

    When you intend writing an article, do you have a picture of what your finished piece will be like because the way your words just flow and how your ideas are presented in you writings is something that doesn’t cease to amaze me

    How do you think I can develop my writing skills

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