An Alien Connection in New York State

In a spot overlooking a meadow in upstate New York, Thomas Phifer and his wife, Jean, have set up their home in a handful of black huts stretched as taut as a starling’s wing feathers. The cedar shakes, rows and rows of it, hiding all but 3 inches of their 30-inch lengths. “There was a moment halfway through and these guys had clapboards nailed down. It seemed like they were busy all their lives,” Phifer recalls. “I have to say, there was a bit of, ‘What did we get into here? Who are these crazy, crazy people?’ †

After the shingles came the pine tar, applied in gloppy brush loads. It seeped down the sides of the huts and took weeks to dry, attracting layers of dust and pollen from the pasture. A sort of contiguous open-air living room, the field is dotted with pathways connecting the six buildings – three for living and working, three for sleeping, some one storey, some two.

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