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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

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Juniper Springs in the 1950s, Ocala National Forest, Marion Co., Florida.

I found  this photo on the internet recently. I believe it is available for anyone to use, but If it's not, and you're the photographer or owner,  please let me know and I'll remove it if you like.  ) My brother, my cousin and I spent a lot of time in these beautiful waters when we were young. What a fortunate place to have nearby! It's only about five miles from the Ocala National Forest cabin that Irv and Barb somehow built before I was born, or when I was so young that even I don't remember. I have a lot of early memories.. We used to come to Juniper Springs for an Easter picnic. We would color the eggs, and get some jelly beans and chocolate kisses and a big chocolate bunny usually, and  Barbara  would hide the eggs and candy around the picnic area. Then we'd find them. One  Easter, when I was maybe 11 or 12, Milton, my unlce, a classical composer, found all the candy and ate it before the kids could find it.  We were all very angry! i believe he thought of himself as a kid, and as I recall refused to be hothered that we were so upset.   I can't remember if it was the same day we argued about "The Fountainhead."  You can read my story of that day at It's called "The Battle of 'The Fountainhead.'"  by Ladybelle Fiske. 
Juniper Springs was, and as far as I know, is so gorgeous. The water bubbles up from a spring far away in the mountains somewhere (Virginia, I always heard, but not sure that's true).  The water us always 72 degrees, and bubbles out of big caverns in the limestone bottom of the pool. The water is turuqoise, on any day that there is a glimmer of blue sky.  Diving down into the springs themselves is otherworldly and wonderfully freeing.  The water runs out through a water wheel at the building that looks like a mill, and into the streams and rivulets that eventually flow, I think, to the Ocklawaha River.  There are alligators and snakes away from the groomed area with its log-cahin dressing area and bathrooms, built by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) in the 1930s.  The men who worked on projects to beautify the nation's national parks and forests, and on other projects, were paid a dollar a day (as I recall) and were fed. They did beautiful work, the work of artisans.  
I'm so grateful for Juniper Spirngs, where I swam also with my own children. 72  degrees came to be a little chilly for my taste, but I would jump in now if I were there. Irving loved all the swimming places of the area and would go in if the temperature was 72 degrees.  He swam every day if he could, including the day he died, April 25, 1990.
I hope to be at Juniper Springs again. It's almost exactly the same as it was in the 1950s. Also, Alexander Springs and Silver Glen Springs, other delectable natural swimming places in the Ocala National Forest....

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Irving Fiske looking in the window of a bookstore, late 1980s.
Andrew McFarlin  and Alice Lin at the time of their engagement, November,2016

It is almost SPRING!
Despite the Coronavirus and its fears and realities of illness and death, I am looking out the window at the beautiful sunlight, at the change in the "slant of light" as Emily Dickinson called it.

We all need to be cautious but not to despair.
Wash hands for 20 seconds with SOAP. Rub them and clean under the nails.
Wash counters with a solution of bleach -- dilute it 5 tablespoons to a gallon or 4 teaspoons to a quart. Or use a commercial disinfectant. I am not sure that vinegar will break the shell of the virus.  But soap does.
Wash hand towels frequently.
Try to stay away from other people for now, especially if you're older- 65-70 or older.
Enjoy the world aright, as Thomas Traherne said... Love your life!
There is so much more information out there now, I have stopped trying to update this. Check the CDC site. DO NOT GET RID OF YOUR PETS! You're very unlikely to get the virus from them but for now, wash your hands after you pet or feed them.  No one has the right to just dump pets that they took on and promised to care for.  Thank you for adopting right now!

In Catalonia, the people cheer the doctors and medical personnel as they walk home through empty streets.
Here's a remarkable poem on this topic...

Yes there is fear. 
Yes there is isolation. 
Yes there is panic buying. 
Yes there is sickness. 
Yes there is even death. 
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise 
You can hear the birds again. 
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet 
The sky is no longer thick with fumes 
But blue and grey and clear. 
They say that in the streets of Assisi 
People are singing to each other 
across the empty squares, 
keeping their windows open 
so that those who are alone 
may hear the sounds of family around them. 
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland 
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound. 
Today a young woman I know 
is busy spreading fliers with her number 
through the neighbourhood 
So that the elders may have someone to call on. 
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples 
are preparing to welcome 
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary 
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting 
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way 
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality 
To how big we really are. 
To how little control we really have. 
To what really matters. 
To Love. 
So we pray and we remember that 
Yes there is fear. 
But there does not have to be hate. 
Yes there is isolation. 
But there does not have to be loneliness. 
Yes there is panic buying. 
But there does not have to be meanness. 
Yes there is sickness. 
But there does not have to be disease of the soul 
Yes there is even death. 
But there can always be a rebirth of love. 
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now. 
Today, breathe. 
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic 
The birds are singing again 
The sky is clearing, 
Spring is coming, 
And we are always encompassed by Love. 
Open the windows of your soul 
And though you may not be able 
to touch across the empty square, 

Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM 

March 13 2020 


Thursday, September 26, 2019

I am distressed by the Socialist press (World Socialist Website) publishing site) writing articles that appear to support the Spanish police in making raids on the homes of members of the Catalan Independence Movement, saying they are "terrorists" and confiscating such things as pots and pans, a bit of fertilizer for their plants, etc. There are some items that can be used to make fireworks, but Catalonia loves festivals and celebrations and does use fireworks in these events.

I personally do not think that the Catalan Independence Movement is in any way violent. Please read my letter to the World Wide Socialist Publishing site.  Waiting to see if they accept it,

I would like to say that while I am not a "card-carrying: socialist per se, i have lived as one, making room for the poor in my Vermont home and community. I have friends who are dedicated Socialists. Tha Catalan Independence Movement is not a violent revolutionary or terrorist group. Catalonia has seen beloved leaders who have small children go to prison and they have not taken aggressive terrorist action against Spain-- which, I feel, is being haunted by the ghost of Franco. The country is dropping its pretense of being a democracy (while still protecting itself under the EU blanket as one). It is returning to the Fascist way of life, and the consequences can be dire, not only for Catalonia (which I feel wants and deserves her freedom from Spain-- at least Catalonia should have a chanee to voite without being beaten over the head with heavy bats as they were on October 1, 2017, by the Spanish Police. Please, Socialists-- Spain does not deserve your support! Stand with a free Catalonia!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


Some "Celebrity" sites claim that Irving had between $100,000 and $14 MILLION when he died. 
He did not own anything. He never owned the land at Quarry Hill, which first belonged to my mother, Barbara Hall Fiske, and then to a family corporation, Lyman Hall, Inc.

 He had benefits from the government (social security, etc) and managed on almost nothing-- he had learned to do so during the Great Depression and preferred it. 

 He grew up in a very conventional, well-off  family who worked and made a lot of money. Irving did not enjoy this life and became a Boheman in the Village during the 1930s.
He wrote freelance articles and worked for the WPA, writing and editing the WPA Guide to New York City, as it is now called. 

 Irv shopped at thrift stores and wore very simple clothing. He had cloth shoes because he was a vegetarian verging on veganism.
He did observe the stock market and would sometimes invest small sums in commodities trading. This was fun for him, as his father had also been an "armchair investor," but it NEVER made him any dough.

He liked things to be simple.
He was NOT wealthy when he died.
There appears to be no way to correct these places which claim huge sums of mone for Irv. I would not be sorry if they were right-- but they aren't.