Silence and stillness
Vacuoles plumped to fill
When The Hopper was germinating this October, we imagined a literary magazine of and about New England. Inspired by the hardscrabble but warmhearted history of so many Vermont villages and the new cultures heralded as coming out of these hills, we pictured the magazine as a pure product of one region—something as vertically deep as Dillard and as socially networked as Mosher or Berry.
Our name and icon were derived from a Leland Kinsey poem. The name The Hopper led us to compare cider making to the literary arts—farming is never far off from other creative processes. Experiences, objects, and tastes are harvested from here and there, brought together, milled in a frenzy, and processed down to bare. Work around harvests, especially fruit harvests during banner years, is time sensitive, and the workers are often transitory. The labor around this magazine has been the same: people have entered and exited, sharing different parts of the load at different times.
This first annual print issue brought with it a litany of surprises. First off, by no particular effort (or lack of) on our part, the authors and artists we chose to publish are mostly non-native to New England, and only four of the twenty-six are resident Vermonters. What we imagined as a hyper-focused (geo-fenced, you could say) magazine about place has become multi-focused. We would have been happy with just New England, but tasting so many different vernaculars of space has been incredible. Clearly, good writing disrupts the ideas one has about one’s magazine, and about oneself.
That said, we hope this issue solidifies for the concerned reader that nature writing is alive and well and only getting more nuanced and applicable in our Internet age. And, if none of the writing herein demonstrates that, we’ll let slip a secret that should do it. What you thought were apples on this cover are actually green oranges, seen and photographed outside a mosque in Seville, Spain.
We walked the rows of the orchard, picking Honeycrisps, Cortlands, and Ida Reds.
Twisting MacIntosh and Macouns from their stems, we piled the fruits in the white half-peck bag, sturdy despite its paper straps.
We collected apple vocabulary like we collected the apples: “robust with a zesty, pineapple citrus,” or “crisp, juicy, and sweet with a distinct strawberry flavor.”
We collected apples like we collect words, like we collect poems, like we collect stories.
Poetry | First Chanterelle by an Old Hunting Road | Stephen Siperstein
Art | Wishing Life | Meghan Rigali
Nonfiction | Burn It, Bury It, Send It Down River | Jenny Ruth
Art | High Tension Juice Heading for LA, Hoover Dam | William C. Crawford
Art | Whooping Cranes with Polluted Sky | Jenny Kendler
Poetry | Pishing | Erin Elkins Radcliffe
Nonfiction | Wonderberry Jam | Cynthia Scott Wandler
Poetry | Dusk and Reservoir | Maggie Blake Bailey
We tumbled our apples—stems, seeds, and all—into the wooden hopper, where they were snagged by iron tines, pulled through blades, and shredded into a sweet pomace.
Collected overripe (best for cider), the apples were now coming into their cider lives.
We milled them and recalled our first encounters with nature, memories sweetly emboldened by youth and muddled in newness.
Fiction | Ice Walking | Benjamin Goodridge
Art | Spawning III (Upstream) | Jenny Kendler
Art | Tree Trunk I (Willow), Tree Trunk II (Douglas Fir), Tree Trunk III (Douglas Fir), and Tree Trunk IV (Maple) | Brian D. Cohen
Poetry | Pastoral | Alexis Lathem
Nonfiction | When the Cardinal Takes Flight | Kristen M. Ploetz
Poetry | The Starfish and Questions on Toads | J.D. Smith
The pomace was ripe and tangy and rested in the barrel like applesauce, chunks of fruit buried in globs of white pulp.
We set the press plate on the mash and began to crank, wringing juice from the fruit like water from a towel. Amber liquid poured from the spout.
We thought about the earth’s gifts, about offerings as small and sweet as scarlet apples, and hoped to know our place in this world of wasp and apple and carbon climate.
Nonfiction | Food for Bears | Kayann Short
Art | Overset and Hollow | Caroline Miller
Poetry | Polistes carolina | Grant McClure
Fiction | The Quarry | Jeffrey Flannery
Art | Squid I and Octopus | Alyssa Irizarry
Art | Badlands | Caroline Miller
Poetry | contrails | Jim Lewis
We mixed the musts of our sweet and bitter apples. You brought the blend to your mouth and then to mine.
In it, I could name the colors of familial love, the taste of nostalgia, the warmth of pleasure.
I asked what you tasted, and you said, home.
Nonfiction | Cuttings | Talley V. Kayser
Art | We Were Here: Cigarette/Deadheads and We Were Here: Snake/Mandible | Natalie Vestin
Poetry | Ghazal: Quilt | Farzana Marie
Nonfiction | Living in the Edge | Brett Ann Stanciu
Art | Hooded View of Death Valley Crater | William C. Crawford
Poetry | Fruit trees next door and Palm Dairy | Don Thompson