The Night Garden
before the Concert and the Arthur everyone knew after. As for the man himself, he’d expected the Concert to be a nuisance; he had not expected it to be the seminal event of his life.
    He was thirty-eight when he first caught wind of the grumbles about some music festival that got booted out of one distant town only to set a trajectory for his little corner of the world. Before the Concert, Arthur had been what most people in Green Valley had considered a “lost cause,” which was to say he had been a solitary, know-it-all bachelor for so long that it would be impossible for him to be anything but a solitary know-it-all bachelor going on.
    But he hadn’t set out in life to be that way. When he was a young boy, working the Pennywort lands with his father at his side, he’d forged a vision of himself as a gentleman farmer, the kind of lost-breed, American renaissance man who mixed his own ink for his pens, who had a library full of dog-eared booksof the Western canon, who felt deep affection for his quietly brilliant and unfailingly supportive wife, who drank the best wines, who broke new ground regarding natural digestion aids, who wrote lengthy and elegant essays on husbandry, who was invited to speak at lecture halls about his innovations, and who did all these elegant things with cow manure under his nails.
    But by the time the Concert came around in his late thirties, his parents were dead and he’d fully given up on his dreams. Nobody cared for gentleman farmers. His produce was acceptable, but not great. His essays didn’t get published. The only place he’d ever lectured was the local library, and the only reason he had an audience was that a high school ag teacher had forced students to attend. He was terribly constipated no matter how much bran he suffered through—no miracle discoveries of digestion health for him. And, worst of all, he’d lost his sense of wonder. The brilliant and supportive wife he dreamed of might as well have come out of a magic lamp.
    Then, the Concert happened—which was to say, the people attending the concert happened. For most of the long history of Green Valley, the land had known more cattle than humans, and at any given moment during the growing season there was more food attached to root systems than was in all the local supermarkets combined. While other Bethel hamlets regularly courted the summer rusticators who came in their station wagons and RVs to soak up the fading glory of the Borscht Belt, Green Valley was merely a rolling collection of sleepy hills that people passed through on their way to somewhere else. Arthur and his neighbors liked it that way.
    Like everyone during the summer of ’69, Arthur had known what was coming. And he’d known it was going to be trouble. He’d stopped buying Yasgur’s milk to demonstrate his disapproval—and sense of betrayal—that one of his own would be willing to violate the sanctity of the land by inviting so many longhairs into party. He’d never liked hippies, with their goofy, progressive ideas, and their slurred ideologies, and their lyrics that got up in a person’s face and tried to tell him how to live. And he’d never liked loud music, either. Or drugs. Or people who couldn’t see that peace—the ubiquitous, doe-eyed, goobery kind of peace that everybody was going on about—could only be achieved with force sometimes.
    But more than that, he found that everything he’d hated about his life—his parents’ deaths from working their bodies as hard as they’d worked their land, his failed dreams of scholarship, his loneliness over the woman who was supposed to have shown up in his life but never had—all of his angry disappointment had found its voice when he became the elected leader of the Green Valley League for Common Sense, which had formed to try to keep the Concert out of the area. It was only when he began organizing petitions and marches, talking to lawyers and giving rousing speeches held in his front

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