turners falls, in massachusetts

Page Twenty-one, website outline

                        “Human beings are a lot meaner and stupider
                                     than they think they are.”
                                           ~~~   Kurt Vonnegut
                                                     Timequake (I think)
                       Bite the hand before it feeds you;
                       feeds you poison, feeds you shame.
                       Bite the hand before it beats you,
                       beats you to a bloodless name.


Two days ago I was talking to a woman who said this, just about verbatim: I came here three years ago when I fled my ex-husband, and my life has done nothing but go downhill since I’ve been here. I’m doing everything I can to get out.

And I did that too. For years. After I’d been in this town about the same amount of time that she has, I wanted out. And I tried for years to get out. Finally, in 1997, I escaped back to my original town in eastern Mass, and found utter mental chaos going on in my family home. So again I tried with diligence to find another place to live, but one out there. To stay in eastern Mass and never cross route 128 again. But it didn’t work. After thirteen months, my daughter found me a place in Turners Falls that I could afford and would accept my animals, so that after only a brief escape, I was back. Back with a very heavy heart in many ways.

In 1992, when I’d been here for seven years, I had the idea that I’d write a book about this place with the title Poison and Snowflake Trees. I even began work on this book, but that particular word processor disk is one of the many, many objects that other people have deprived me of since 1998. For me that title completely grips the painful dichotomy that has always been life in Turners for me: the undeniable, mesmerizing beauty of the nature; and the equally undeniable, tenacious ignorance and meanness of the people. Poison for the humans, snowflake trees for the nature.  All these years later, I’m starting that book again, structuring it as a collection of vignettes that are the blog posts I’ve been writing about Turners for close to three years now, together with new writing.

This year’s crop (2010)              



And now it’s April 26, and the snowflake trees have sprouted to six inches high along the canal. The cherry trees (the center of Turners is full of them) and the lilacs are blooming. The ducks want people to feed them. There’s a black squirrel living near the library. The Turners spring I know so well is in its happy throes. 

I walk in places where my animals and I used to live, where we used to walk, where we were so happy in each other’s company and so fascinated with every molecule of nature around us. I walk,cry and remember. And if the nature that we loved together for nearly twenty-two years is still here, still all around me as I walk and cry, well so is the poison. It emanates from every human body that I pass; it is in the words from their mouths; it is in their behavior.


The flowers on this page: I can just hear the wheels turning:  There’s no such thing as snowflake trees. This broad’s really nuts. No, as far as I know, there is no such thing as snowflake trees. The common name for this plant is meadow rue, but when I found them I didn’t know this. It would be two or three years before I would find out the plant’s actual name, and in the meantime  — with my Asperger’s penchant for naming people and things in ways that fit them better than their real names — I called them snowflake trees. I’ve been naming things my own names for years.


The snowflake trees and butterfly flowers (also known as milkweed) are blooming now; now being June 16. Nothing of the snowflake flower’s grace and nothing of the sweetness of the not-much-to-look-at milkweed flower can stem the human toxicity here. I’ve always wished that it could. That the sweetness of lilac scent and laurel scent, milkweed and rose could somehow alter the wormy psyches of these people. That the soft mist rising from canal and river could wash the nastiness out of them. But such has never happened, and I don’t suppose it ever will.


Something I sometimes do these days: squiggling a mouse around a table to use the Windows Paint. I see this one as an abstract rendition of the anxiety,anger and dislike I feel among the people of this town.

                                                                Junktown 2010


read…  Braonwandering…    Don’t ask

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  1. eggplantinspace said,

    March 13, 2010 at 7:30 am

    I have always felt you carry your troubles with you. I have moved several times, and never left them behind.

    I wrote some flash fiction on it once in college. About the feeling I was on a train, but also on fire, and that whomever I touched I passed the fire to. All very egocentric and mellow-dramatic looking back on it, but thats part of the fun of being young.

    • anne nakis said,

      March 16, 2010 at 2:15 pm

      Just found your comment, Peter. Certainly you take the scars of things with you wherever you go, but if I had been able to stay out of Turners when I finally DID get out in 1997, the events of 2008 would never have happened. They were particular to this town. Always good to hear from you. Anne

  2. braonthree said,

    March 16, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Yes, certainly we take the scars of things with us wherever we go. But if I’d stayed out of Turners when I DID get out in 1997, the events of 2008 wouldn’t have happened. Always good to hear from you. I still have huge trouble finding your blog. Sometimes I hit it, sometimes not. Anne

  3. ruthnoakes said,

    June 4, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    This is heartbreaking, but beautiful, where you put about how you walk and cry, how the memories linger.

    What happened in 2008? I don’t know if this blog goes back that far, I am reading in reverse order because my brain processes better that way. 2008 is the worst year ever for me, so reading you put about 08 strikes a chord.

    Also, where does this come from?

    ‘ Bite the hand before it feeds you;
    feeds you poison, feeds you shame.
    Bite the hand before it beats you,
    beats you to a bloodless name’

  4. braonthree said,

    June 8, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Those four rhyming lines there are my own, that’s why they’re not attributed. Well, 2008. As you read further backwards in my blogs, you’ll learn what happened then. Thanks as ever for reading and commenting. Anne

  5. January 30, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    […] away to more on this. One.  Two.  […]

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