Search This Blog

Welcome to Quarry Hill's Blog!

Quarry Hill Creative Center in Rochester, VT, founded 1946 by Barbara and Irving Fiske, is Vermont's oldest alternative community and at one time was probably also its largest. In the 60s -80s, as many as 90 people lived here.
It was and is visited each year, often in summer (but in every season, really) by visitors from all over the world.
We welcome interesting and creative people who are peaceful, bring no weapons, don't believe in hitting children or killing animals, and enjoy the beauty of Vermont and of themselves.

Most of us do not adhere to any particular dogma or religion, though many do find Eastern philosophy closest to our own thought (some of us are also members of the Quakers/Society of Friends).
We value the individual, particularly people who are energetic and have a sense of humor.
Visitors are welcome-- and prospective residents, too. There are some places for rent, others for sale. If interested, get in touch!
And, please follow the Blog and comment whenever you like!

"The symbol is the enemy of the reality, and the reality is ever one's true guide, true friend, true companion, and true self." Irving Fiske, 1908-1990

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Barbara's Birthday

My mother, cartoonist, artist and visionary Barbara Hall Fiske Calhoun, was born 98 years ago today, on September 9, 1919, in Tucson, AZ.

She was born Isabelle Daniel Hall, and called Babs, which became Barbara on the suggestion of my father, Irving Fiske, WPA writer, playwright, and philosopher-speaker, 

She was a cartoonist during WWII, a painter in tempera and pastel of lovely landscapes, portraits that made the subject see for the first time their own true beauty, and of figure drawings that rivaled any Renaissance painter. She taught art all her life.
In 1946, she and my father and some others, including my uncle Milton, a classical composer, bought the old mountain farm that became Quarry Hill in Rochester, VT. 
More of Barbara's story can be read in her Wikipedia entry, and more has yet to be told. Tonight, I just want to remember her amazing ability to know when people needed her and to call them, and to raise all things up in immense beauty in her art. She died on April 28, 2014, in peaceful slumber, in White River Junction, VT.

I know she would be glad that her grandson, my son Andrew Daniel Fiske McFarlin, is to marry his fiancee, Alice Lin,  a remarkable, beautiful young woman, Middlebury College graduate, a  scholar of languages and the classics, on September 9, 2018-- Barbara's 99th birthday. 

Friday, July 28, 2017



"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea." -- Isaiah 11:9

All welcome who will honor children and animals, harm no one, and allow all others to enjoy life as much as  we ourselves would like to enjoy it.


Sunday, July 23, 2017


this is Nevada, a little dog whose life some friends and I just saved. She was in the streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma. A South Carolinian woman there for a funeral (or a wedding) found her, and took her to a dog friendly motel. But when she got ready to leave, she said she would take the dog to a pount if she was not rescued.
With a lot of scrambling, we saved Nevada (as she became known, meaning Silver) and she was transported to San Angelo, Texas, where by the grace of Connie Weant, a rescue friend there, she has a place to live. I hope she will find a "forever home" soon...

Friday, July 21, 2017

On the holy mountain

I have recently been thinking of Isaiah 11:9 and other passages in the Bible that speak of peace and fulfillment.
For my parents, Barbara Hall Fiske and Irving Fiske, the King James Bible was a kind of powerful poetry, with  some visionary truth contained in it. It was not a literal truth to them, but an artistic one.
Barbara painted tempera paintings with herself, Irving and Milton as figures from the Old and New Testaments, and they referred often to the parts that intersected with their vision of "a paradise for Souls"-- people who were incapable of living the conventional life.

The Bible passages that moved them (and often me)  the most were those that speak eloquently of peace  and a new Jerusalem, a beautiful new earth/heaven without pain and suffering, without killing or pain.

"They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."



This passage  was one of my mother Barbara's favorites.Such passages, in the King James Bible (the only one we considered worth reading) were like precious stones to my parents, and I usually agreed. 

These words of Isaiah spoke to the heart of Quarry Hill's point of view. Along with Blake's radiant and defiant poems, and the words of Melville's Moby Dick, it "spoke to our condition." When the place ran up against people wanting, not only to claim the land but to stake claim to QH's point of view, in 1999-2002, one of the things we could not stomach was the idea of a "mission statement." That as much as anything was what the situation foundered on. It was not the Fiskian way to bind the self with one idea, one thought, one point of view-- a way of being which often drove other people crazy. 

Yet, not as a commandment upon us but a vision of sanity , such passages as this one in Isaiah were a part of our deepest thought.
The Quarry Hill agreement, begun in my childhood and in effect through all the years and still today, is that here no one who is living or visiting here may strike, neglect, or verbally abuse children.  Animals are not hunted, and fish swim unmolested in the brook, the frogs in the pond.
No one raises animals to kill. 
Despite everything, the Great Divorce of the late 90s-early 2000s included, this vow has remained in place for 71 years, from April 10, 1946 to today.

Irving liked  Micah 4:4, which most people know:

" But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid..." Or as the song goes, "Every man neath his vine and fig tree, shall live in peace and unafraid."

This verse  had a special meaning for Irving. 

In his liitle brown cabin in the deep piney woods of the Ocala National Forest, a vine grew over the window of his miniscule bedroom. On the side of the cabin toward the lake he planted a little fig tree. And  there he lived, in peace and unafraid, and completely defiant of the Forest Rangers and the rednecks who, in the 1970s, had burned our earlier cabin down. 

(More to come)

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Few Days Before Earth Day.

Spring has come again to Quarry Hill, and Quarry Hill Day # 71 was a few days ago, April 10. On that day in 1946, Barbara Hall Fiske and Irving L. Fiske purchased the 140 acres of hill farm land which would become Quarry Hill. They didn't register the deed, typically, till 15 minutes before the town office was about to close-- 4:45 pm.
That the time is registered has been a source of entertainment and thought to several astrologers. Quarry Hill's chart is strongly action oriented. The four Cardinal signs, Aries, Libra, Cancer and Capricorn, are said to be more interested in action than in people (the Mutable signs, Pisces, Virgo, Sagittarius and Gemini) or ideals (Fixed signs-- Leo, Aquarius, Scorpio and Taurus).  QH is an Aries, and the symbol for the sun degree is "A puglist entering the ring." It has been known to be the center of controversy during all its 71 years, and has fiercely defended its right to be different. With Leo moon, its emotional center is proud and idealistic, and does not change its beliefs lightly. The needs and rights of Children, a Leo and Fifth house concept, have ever been one of its most deeply held ideals.
There is plenty more to say about Quarry Hill's chart, but probably it is of interest only to astrologers.

Today what seemed more important was that the sun shone, the spring  birds were returning, and in the little pond at the foot of the craggy north hill, spring peepers were singing.
Far away, a bird that I had  heard only in Florida till a few years ago-- I don't know its name-- is calling in a lorn tone from the mountain to the South. Global warming, which has profoundly injured almost all of the Great Barrier Reef, I read yesterday or the day before, is disrupting all sorts of living things.
Some people say the GBR can recover. I hope so... even if 2/3 of it is bleached out?  They seem to think it can, but will humanity allow it?

I would like to reach around the world and pour the life-elixir of the month of Aries, this benediction of sunshine, the singing of frogs, into the Great Barrier Reef that it might recover its strength. One can't believe that the captains of industry don't care about the reef, about the world entire.

If we don't turn things around, the whole earth will be as bleached and empty as the Great Barrier Reef is becoming. Everyone, except Donald Trump and his cohorts, knows this. If I knew what to do to stop it, I would do it.
What can we do to save  the beauty of this earth, as simple  and as wonderful as the kids of QH walking around with their  dogs or playing in the sunshine, the spring peepers singing with joy as they seek partners for mating?   The frogs are becoming fewer in number too, they say. But here, today, the frogs are singing... one of the greatest joys of the year in Vermont.
If anyone can figure out what to do for the rest of the Earth, I, for one, am listening.