Edd Merritt

And all around your island
There’s a barricade
It keeps out the danger
It holds in the pain
   ~ Tom Petty, “Walls”

At the end of January, the Charlotte Planning Commission discussed changing the village boundaries for East Charlotte to include setbacks of 400 feet in all directions from the intersection of Spear Street and Hinesburg Road. Commission Vice Chair Charlie Pughe presented a drawing of what that would mean for the village in the way of increasing walkways for pedestrians and to slow traffic so that walkers would not feel threatened by cars. The change would extend village limits to roughly 2,400 feet in all directions. East to west that would mean from just east of Stony Loam Farm, across the intersection to the west edge of the current solar farm on Hinesburg Road. North to south it would run from Cemetery Road down to Morningside Drive. Town Planner Daryl Benoit said there were several ways to “calm traffic into the Village.” A village planning project by LandWorks said that East Charlotte is a “quintessential Vermont hamlet.” So see? We are our own small municipality.

However, what none of the proposals suggested was building a wall to block those nasty folks from West Charlotte and to, perhaps, monitor the Ferry traffic – much of which is immigrant New Yorkers, Massachusettsites and Connecticutidians. (These groups would, of course, have to pay to build the wall—unless we could get our fearless president to realize the seriousness of having a village border and what that border means to those of us without painted blond hair who live within it.).

Let’s see, where could we get materials for this wall? We have a few bricks stacked in back of our garage that we could put to good use, but cement blocks? We will probably have to open a factory behind Spears Store that would employ between 200 and 300 people to make enough concrete blocks to construct a wall 15 feet tall by the 2,400 feet long north, south, east and west.

What about patrolling the barrier, since we don’t have our own police force for the village? How about farmer Robert Mack who, when not baling hay, could interrogate the transients from the west who want to breach the wall and get a cup of coffee and a cookie from Carrie Spear or who may be late for class at CVU and can’t afford the time to re-route through Shelburne. In fact, he might even put them to work in his barn or have them open a new brewery (a vocation that Vermont, apparently, cannot have enough of).

Britt Sue Tenney could charge these immigrants higher prices for floral bouquets with extra income going into the pockets of East Charlotte CEOs, many of whom now live in a golden-gated community that went up in a flash and that one gets to by turning off Spear onto “Wall Street.”

Without the wall, East Charlotte is in danger of becoming a hub of crime. We have seen what the West Charlotte people can be like and have a tendency to do in the way of illegal activity. We refer to them as “old bricks.” Although Church Hill was named to preserve a religious tone to the area, it does little more than offer a downward slope which if followed several thousand more miles west and south could land a person on the banks of the Rio Grand and only a short swim from Mexico, where, given the desire of our martyr president, another wall will form.

Given the wealth of platitudes in the president’s State of the Union address the other night and the way that address has evolved into a framework which, unfortunately, is more addressed to the politicians gathered in the room than to the American public, I managed to flip back and forth between Boston College hockey and snowboarders—who, by the way, were much more adept at their skills than the president and Congress were at sending a message to their constituents. I guess that the State of the Union address preceded reality TV in its limited informational transmission, focusing more on its delivery than on its content. What, as a viewer, do you get with applause every 35 seconds, interspersed by cliché after cliché.

I wonder if the “United States of New England” would follow the same pattern. Why not get America out of Vermont and give it a shot.

Meanwhile, as Pink Floyd says, mama’s going to keep baby cozy and warm, ooh baby, of course mama’s going to help build the wall. And we know that walls will make all the difference.