Sunday, September 24, 2006

Fall Daze

After an evening of drinking and drama, there is nothing better than a lazy morning involving lattes, Beastmaster, JB and sweet baked goods.

Better still is a late afternoon jaunt at Shelburne Farms. The weather today was breathtaking. Warm, petulant breezes sweeping up anything that wasn't nailed down, forboding dark, angry skies, and the feeling of anticipation hanging heavy in the air. Something's coming, something good...

The sun beat down so hard that we peeled off our outer layers and soaked up this last burst of summer heat. Dried leaves swooshed around our feet and the dark clouds threatened rain. Even though we were spent and tired from a late night and booze, the fresh air and invigorating winds woke us up and we ended up taking a longer walk than planned.

We strolled down a road by the Farm Barn that I've never been down before. The green empty fields stretched on for miles and we passed a little pond and puffed our way up a steep hill. At the top was the Breeding Barn which I've never been to before. There was a choral concert in the barn and streams of cars were filing past us.

As with all the buildings at Shelburne Farms, the Breeding Barn is 10 times larger than most houses. It gives you a skewered perspective. You don't expect to see a skyscraper in the middle of the countryside and this is why the Farm Barn, Coach Barn and Breeding Barn are such a jolt to the system at first. Their architecure is so original and refreshing. It makes you feel like you've stepped into a fairy tale.

We sidetracked up a beaten dirt road and lay down on some slabs of granite. The clouds above us were white and puffy and speeding past, changing shapes as they whizzed by. Patches of burdock sprouted up all around us and the green mountains stood strong in the distance enveloped in a thick layer of storm clouds.

Days like this remind me of Cherry Valley in Upstate New York where I grew up. Endless empty country roads, hills and valleys that stretched far into the distance and lots of big, big sky. We lived at the top of a hill which the school bus couldn't brave in the winter. Our house was large and rambling and our red barn across the street was also sizable. Behind it was a field of burdock and a stone porch with fossil imprints.

When we moved into the place in the early 70s, it cost about $20,000 and my parents had a pond dug behind the house. My mom planted a willow tree that dangled its long branches into the water.

Once, I nearly died in this pond, or so the story goes. I was about 3 years old and I tried to walk into the pond. Problem was, I couldn't swim. My sister, who was 8 at the time, stood by and watched as my head went underwater. My mom ran over and scooped me out. Apparently, I was giggling at the lark.

My father planted all sorts of fruit trees around the house and my mom made jam from their fruit. We often climbed up the hill behind our house past the huge oak tree and visited my dad's cabin in the woods. It was a studio that he had built so he could compose in peace. Only problem was, the quiet was driving him crazy so he didn't get much work done there. But the walk up was delicious and the hill was covered in wild flowers in the summer that we made into bouquets.

Sometimes we would walk up the hill to see our neighbor who was a mile or so up the road. Time stood still out there. It was so quiet at night that you could hear every animal and guess at their activites and the landscape was pitch black. We moved back to Manhattan when our parents got divorced but we spent summers in Cherry Valley for most of my childhood.

We rented out the house and slept in the barn which we had renovated. There was a trap door in the master bedroom and a bedroom for us kids which was divided by a bookcase. I loved those summers away from the exciting, loud city. It always took a little bit of time for me to transition from the noisy street sounds to the quiet country nights. But I loved our house in Cherry Valley and it's always been my dream to buy that place back.

Shelburne Farms is my Cherry Valley in Vermont. It's dusty dirt roads feel like home to me. The empty, green landscape that stretches out in all directions brings me a feeling of inner peace. Tanner says that peace comes from within, meaning that I should be able to find it where ever I am, be it a city, Burlington, Shelburne Farms or Cherry Valley.

This may be true, but there is something about quiet places like Shelburne Farms and Cherry Valley that relax me like nothing else. I think there comes a time when you just have to accept that certain places feel safer and more comfortable to you than others. It is time to admit that the country sets me at ease just as the city excites me and makes me feel alive. I guess it is sort of like my inner yin/yang balance.

The storm that has been threatened all day has yet to break and I am dreading the busy work week that awaits. But this afternoon of sun and emptiness will give me a little inner peace to put in my pocket and get me through the madness. And it is good to say that I finally got my monthly meal of cloud watching which should keep me alive for at least another month or so.


Anonymous said...

i do say! Who is that striking young man...

Eva the Deadbeat said...

he is handsome, is he not? you can call him Grand Master Burdock, a renaissance man, or so I hear...

Anonymous said...

Your quota of cloud watching. I really like that image. You were one when you stepped into the pond. Harvey and I both planted all of the trees. I'm so glad that you have learned to love the country. I loved the entire blog today with its cloud pictures. Perhaps you should buy a tiny country place and have a city home, too. Although your present digs will be looking more and more like a forest all of the time. q

Eva the Deadbeat said...

oops, i guess a 1 yr old trying to drown herself makes more sense although i prefer to think that i was under the impression that i was a fish who could breath underwater but...who can say? a country home sounds like a good plan - too bad cherry valley is not up for grabs....

good job on posting mom !