When penned by authors of passion and grace, memoirs lift their readers from the confines of their own lives into pasts made vivid through significant detail and memorable characters. Retrieving Times is such a memoir. Author Granville Austin was only five years old when his family moved to a small town called Norwich on the Vermont side of the Connecticut River in 1927. Back then, this vibrant community boasted more dirt roads than asphalt, and more farmers than professors from nearby Dartmouth College. In summer, there was haying and fishing, band concerts on the common and cool lemon Cokes at the local drugstore. Fall meant hunting while winter meant downhill skiing at a time when getting to the top of a hill meant hiking, not ski lifts. But Austin's time travels to the Norwich, Vermont of his youth are far more than pleasant excursions. They're emotional evocations of the men, women, and boyhood friends who populated the author's world, the people who "larned" him-to use the author's phrase-the meaning of honor, of fairness, and of the devotion necessary to turn a small collection of houses and stores into a community with a powerful pulse of its own. At a time when Americans exhibit a distinct yearning for more straightforward and honest relationships with one another, Austin's portrait of Norwich, Vermont-told in distinctive, well-seasoned prose-reminds us of the lasting impacts our lives have on one another's.
So follow Granville Austin's beckoning hand back in time to meet Will Bond, the author's neighbor and the subject of a painting by artist Paul Sample. Learn how to ski downhill when "grooming the slope" meant tamping down the snow yourself. And decide how you would answer the challenge "let's see you shoot." Visiting Vermont is always a treat but with a writer like Granville Austin as your guide, you'll find it as satisfying as biting into a new-picked apple on a clear October day.