We moved to Ashford about five years ago. The first thing we noticed about Ashford is that it lacks an airport. The second thing we noticed is that it lacks people. I would mention a third thing, but nobody in Ashford counts that high. Anything above two is considered “poaching” or “providing”. Anything above ten is your average number of kids.
I would fear for my life here, but nobody in Ashford can read. If somebody outside of Ashford reads this to them, I have to flee. Despite these shortcomings, we love Ashford for several reasons. Here’s ten and some bonus points:
1) Nobody lives here.
2) The signal from my ankle bracelet can’t cross the hills.
3a) Speed limit signs serve two purposes: They’re target practice for hunters, and a mild suggestion to cut your speed in half. Since nobody here can count, they’re mostly just target practice.
3b) No speed limit signs have any holes yet, but there’s a lot of dead cows and thus, free beef. Theirs is a lot of healthy llamas, because they appear smarter than cows in a cute, Doctor Seuss way, and avoid speed limit signs like the plague.
4) Over 99% of all guns in Connecticut are located in Ashford. None are registered. You can find many fine varieties in the “swap shack” at the transfer station. Most are fully loaded for your convenience. Popular with the kids.
5) If there’s no witness, then relax. What happens in Ashford, stays in Vegas. It just adds to the confusion.
6) The Andy Griffith Show is new and cutting-edge here.
7) Mayberry is huge compared to Ashford.
8) A school of fish is huge compared to Ashford.
9) A school of fish is smart compared to Ashford.
10) There’s now two Ashford animals with a bounty on their heads: Coyotes and me. Contrary to popular belief, rattlesnakes are protected. You can tell because people wear them in the form of boots, belts, and fillings.
The town motto of Ashford is “Live Free or Cry.” New Hampshire stole this in the French-Indigo Girls War of the eighties, thinking “Cry” was “Die”, because people from Ashford drink a lot of homemade hooch and slur. Ironically, this is also the name of a local watering hole, the “Hooch and Slur.”
I mock the people here, but in reality they’re very nice. Usually they’re lost and trying to find Route 84, but they are, in fact, residents. I’m banking on the good humor of my fellow residents and that unique ability to laugh at themselves so that I’m not lynched. This would probably be a big Saturday night hoedown kind of thing, performed to the lively tunes of that fresh breakout artist, Buck Owens and the Buckaroos. For reasons still unclear to the First Selectman / Town Hall custodian, Madonna never returns calls concerning “Ashford Lynch Party 2007”.
My parents wanted to visit from Florida, but not stay here at our house among the restless dogs and questionable bedding arrangements (tent in the wetlands out back). I suggested the Ashford Motel, which boasts a massive billboard on the westbound side of Route 84, with more wood and stability than the actual hotel. My parents wanted quaint, and they got Calcutta on a bad day. That was a few years ago; lately I heard it’s been converted into quite a successful and lucrative opium den.
I travel a lot throughout the Nutmeg State (Nutmeg being an Indian word for “overpriced gasoline,”), and it’s fantastic to come home. I mean, I can just feel the tension and work day melt as the miles (and miles and miles) unreel, and no matter how hard work may have been, I always know that I’ll be crazed and desperate to rush back after surviving yet another hellish night in Ashford.
And yet, there’s nothing like a quiet evening on the patio, watching bats dart among the giant tulip trees, listening to the distant sounds of gunfire and unmuffled pickups built during the Hoover administration . . . ah yes, nothing but people and nature. Lots and lots and lots and of nature. Come for the night. Bring matches and firearms. I happily digress from this friendly roast of a great town.
*Ashford is very much like my in-laws’ family retreat in Acton, Maine, and in truth, it would be too easy describing the great things about Ashford.
*Ashford is a Nipmuc word for “small toaster oven”.