“In the cherry blossom's shade
there's no such thing
as a stranger.”

-Kobayashi Issa

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QUARRY HILL, VT

"When I was born, Quarry Hill was a small artists’ & writers’ retreat created by my parents. They had no plan to form an “intentional community.” That was not related directly to their thoughts and ideas.

The school bus was purchased in NYC by Irving in about 1967 and we took it to Florida in that winter with about 15 people, young hippies, piled in. I went along and we were all on top of one another. Irv and a guy named Richie drove, and all went pretty well until in a tiny town in SC we broke down."

The bus now rests on the grounds blending in with the vinery and engraved with written memorabilia of all the travelers who passed it in a lifetime or perhaps lived in it. It was one of the first four-walled, lived in structures on the property.

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"NOT A COMMUNE:

JUST FISKE"

There have been a lot of hassles about this over the years, as people have tried to drag the Fiske family down from their position of ownership; but the truth is that my parents never planned that there would be anything here that was like a “intentional community” owned and run by everyone.

1975

Quarry Hill, October '17

However, Irving and Barbara did want artistic and creative people to come, and they were delighted to experience the floods of people who came in the 60s and after. Irving once said in a meeting in Rochester that “land owners must share use of their land; otherwise, people will rise up and take it away from them."

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"I don’t know what this is, imaginary thought or dream, possibly, or the truth." -Isabella Fiske

Ladybelle Isabella Fiske-McFarlin & Brion McFarlin

"SO I WAS BORN HERE. I was born into Quarry Hill life.

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Young Ladybelle Fiske

“Born like a dream

in this dream of a world,

How easy in mind I am,

I who will fade away

like the morning dew.”

- Zen Poem

Ladybelles’s quarters, Farmhouse, 36 Irving Pl., Backwoods, Brion near The Cabin, Quarry Hill’s pond, Property Overlook, Irving’s piano near Quarry Hill’s past members timeline of photographs in the Farmhouse, Quarry Hill Painting, Ladybelle herself, Brion with picked flower in his pocket, portrait of Ladybelle


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Irving Fiske

Irving was thirty-eight and his wife Barabra twenty-eight when they bought the property as a retreat from their busy lives in New York. He began giving talks in New York about ideas such as the notion that traditional schooling was deadly, that children should never be spanked or physically and emotionally harmed; that monogamy was unhealthy and encouraged possessiveness which in turn led to aggression and restriction, and that people should live as fully as possible, enjoying their avocations and one another rather than labour in boring, repetitive or demeaning jobs. The talks often ended with an invitation to join the Fiske’s in Vermont, there these conversations could continue, everyone gathered around.

 Assumed aura of Irving Fiske (bottom left corner).

Assumed aura of Irving Fiske (bottom left corner).

“By 1965, as stories of the wizard in the woods and his free-love commune spread, more and more young people arrived. Old school buses and trailers became shelters. Tents filled upper meadows. Plywood shelters and large homes were built while people divided up the Farmhouse attic, lined with mattresses, into bedrooms.

Barabra Fiske said this of the hippies’ arrival:

“They danced nude in the neighbor’s pond and in the streets of Rochester, one girl at least, just generally raising hell. Irv was struggling to make mortgage payments. Some of the people could contribute, and that struck him as being a very fortuitous thing.”’

-Yvonne Daley, Going Up the Country: When the hippies, Dreamers, Freaks, and Radicals moved to Vermont


COMMUNITY on Quarry Hill, 2017

"Anything for the Newcomer." - Irving

Much like the people were found or collected, so were the minimal amount of objects that made up the community households. Wood scraps made up building walls, I found sheet metal lining the innards of wall structures that appeared to have newspaper writing, and slept on bunkbeds which were separated and made into floors for the upstairs bedroom, and indoor plumbing didn't exist until the 90s. 

During my stay I slept in the loft room in the upstairs of Barbara Hall. A quaint two story room, safe and sturdy, I felt like a child in a fort. I had the choice of a bed but I slept on some blankets where the separating floor were scrap wood from bunkbeds. It felt I was a child again. Forts are where imagination grows for children and I wanted nothing to do with the adult normalcy once I took my shoes off.

Quarry hill is home to about 25 or so varying between adults and children.  The central area of the property is the three-story Farm House (drawing behind bedpost from past art student dorming on the property, book case with photograph of Brion’s daughter’s graduation, pool table shot, art pieces, textbooks photographs). Scattered around are houses and structures housing multiple families at times; few are individually owned. At the end is the communal brook a short walk downhill. What used to be a common spot of meditation and release communally used, a sauna structure, slowly collapsing, remains.

- , Sam, Jay, Shadow the cat, Sam & -, Jess Hangers, Shadow at the Brook, Jason, - , Brion, - , Brion holding Lucky

 

“People come and go and flow at Quarry Hill and they always have. Quarry Hill really is indefinable and it changes all the time.

I can’t really say what it is because it is always something different. Often times it has functioned as a therapeutic community, for people to get their heads together and go on to do other things.”

 Remnants of the annual Quarry Hill commemoration where past commies gather, dance, and share their stories.

Remnants of the annual Quarry Hill commemoration where past commies gather, dance, and share their stories.

I thought the earth

remembered me, she

took me back so tenderly, arranging

her dark skirts, her pockets

full of lichens and seeds. I slept

as never before, a stone

on the riverbed, nothing

between me and the white fire of the stars

but my thoughts, and they floated

light as moths among the branches

of the perfect trees. All night

I heard the small kingdoms breathing

around me, he insects, and the birds

who do their work in the darkness. All night

I rose and fell, as if in water, grappling

with luminous doom. By morning

I had vanished at least a dozen times

into something better.

- Mary Oliver

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"Things are more like they are now

than ever before."

-Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

All photographs by Kieran Bammann

Text quoted from Isabella Fiske McFarlin unless otherwise noted or myself.

Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.