Sas Carey

My mother called being a part of a conversation “getting a word in edgewise.” I never had trouble doing that, maybe because I was the oldest of five kids. Never, that is, until after COVID-19. I spent more than a year living alone, not seeing or interacting with others. Everything was internal as I accessed my memories and worked on my memoir. I was looking deeply into my past, taking all the time I needed. After a year of that, the pace of normal conversation seemed like I was walking on my horse and everyone else was galloping. In fact, when I could be with others, the conversation went so...

SAS CAREY PLACES a Black Lives Matter sign by her home after getting her daughter’s perspective on their importance.
In 1969 I adopted a biracial daughter. Though she has not searched for her heritage, she has always believed herself to be half African American. Jasmine was born in Vermont and grew up in Addison County, graduated from Middlebury Union High School and the University of Vermont, and then left for our country’s largest cities to live amongst far more diversity. When Jasmine and I drove around Addison County this month, she felt encouraged by Black Lives Matter signs. She did not always feel at ease and acknowledged here and feels that her treatment was the tip of the iceberg for how other...
This is the best moment of my life. When I see this sentence on a young woman’s T-shirt as she walks with friends in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital, I think, you know, that’s right. As I think about it more and more, I realize that I don’t recognize life’s normal moments as the best. Of course, they are, since at any time something could happen that changes everything. So I keep saying it. I could get overheated in the Gobi Desert sun. I could become exhausted while riding a horse for four hours. My sleeping bag could get wet in a rainstorm. Whenever I need an attitude adjustment, I say,...
The strangest things happen while traveling backward into my life. I am writing a memoir. The first draft, now finished, includes vignettes, little stories I found myself sharing. Then as I dive deeper into the stories, I find more. For instance, one day I was writing about taking ballroom dancing in seventh grade, wearing patent leather shoes, a satin dress and petticoats to my calves, and white gloves — God forbid that you should touch someone while dancing. The boys would line up on one side of the room and the girls on the other. The teacher would clap her hands and the boys would have to...
When I mention that I saw a little farm stand with summer squash on the way to a socially-distanced visit with a friend in Lincoln, she tells me to stop at the farm stand next to the river on the way home through Bristol. I don’t remember any farm stand there, but sure enough, there it is.  An enthusiastic, smiling woman greets me as I find summer squash. She talks to a man inside a building. As I look around, there is abundance. I have never seen so many tomatoes. All the vine-y things like watermelon and the squash — Blue Hubbard, butternut, acorn and more — are in piles. While I am...
Due to COVID-19, the border to Mongolia is closed, so I can’t go there. Film festivals are not in person. I stay home. A friend gets my groceries for two and a half months. In early May when I have my annual exam by telemedicine, I tell my doctor I’m gaining weight because the pool is closed and I normally swim five days a week. The water outside is too cold, I tell her. She says, “Why don’t you get a wet suit?” Being compliant, I looked into it, but find that they cost $250 and you can’t even try them on because of COVID-19. My doctor says gaining two or three pounds is not so bad, but we...
2011: The summer when my mother goes into hospice, I decide not to go to Mongolia and to spend as much time as possible with her. My plan is to visit with Mom in Connecticut for three days every week, where she is in a nursing home with dementia. The first week I go, the weather is beautiful, so I take Mom out in her wheelchair and we sit feeling the breeze. She comments on the flowers and asks why the flag is at half mast, but can’t carry on a conversation any more, so we just sit. As a Quaker I am comfortable with silence since that is how we worship every week. When I get back to Vermont,...
Mongolia is a herding land with nomads and their 44 million goats, cattle, camels, horses and sheep. The favorite food is mutton from sheep. Mutton with noodles. Mutton dumplings. Mutton covered in deep fried dough. Boiled mutton. I am familiar with these. The first time I noticed sheep’s head as a special food was during my second trip to Mongolia. From my sixth-floor apartment on the outskirts of the capital Ulaanbaatar I heard a loud roar. I looked down upon the wall of an empty foundation below and saw a man aiming a kerosene torch at what looked like an animal’s head sitting on the wall...
At the beginning of the millennium, I watched modernization take over the traditional nomadic culture in Mongolia at a fast rate and feared that the culture might be lost. In Vermont, we have had time to come to terms with industrialization, electronic technology, and globalization. We have had many decades to do this. We observed the rest of the country and often decided not to be glitzed by the newness that others adopted. We took our time becoming a state, the 14th one, not one of the colonies, so we have a tradition of independence. Because of this we have a character that other states do...

SAS CAREY WILL present a pre-screening of “Transition,” her fourth documentary about the nomadic cultures of northern Mongolia, at the Town Hall Theater in Middlebury on Saturday, Dec. 7, at 8 p.m. A reception will be held at the theater an hour before the film starts. Photo courtesy of Sas Carey
MIDDLEBURY — Nineteen trips, three documentary films, and a book later, Sas Carey decided to do things a little differently for her fourth film about the nomadic reindeer herders of northern Mongolia who she’s been following since 1994. “I’m doing everything weird,” she said at her Middlebury home during an interview last week. “I’m doing everything my own way.” Doing things her own way is nothing new for Carey. And we’ll get to see just what she’s taking about during a pre-screening of her latest film, “Transition,” at the Town Hall Theater on Saturday, Dec. 7,  at 8 p.m. A reception will be...

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