So, it started out as a small break. I was switching jobs and needed to take the time to really focus on all my new roles and responsibilities. And it was summer, so ‘what-the-heck?’ And then July came and I put an offer in on a house back in Montgomery County and ‘holy crap!’ My brain was filled with the anxiety not only of a new job but a new house and all the layers of emotion, fear and joy and confusion that go along with both those things. September came and I finally closed on the house, moving into my sweet little cottage along the Mohawk River just up the street from an actual fort. And with it came new responsibilities like buying a lawn mower and painting the sun-porch and taking out the trash every Thursday night.
And writing somehow never came into the picture. I mean, I’ve thought about it a lot, but things just kind of happened and I didn’t.
So now it’s October and there really aren’t any more excuses. I’m settled into my job and my home and the pattern of my day and I have a gorgeous view of the river from my sunny office window. I can’t complain and I can’t procrastinate anymore. It’s time to write about the things that happen and not get swept away by them.
As soon as the sun begins to shine and the snow stops falling, my job requires that I am on the road visiting farmers. I love this part of the year…and I loath it. There are two fundamental truths I have discovered over the last few weeks:
- I live in an amazingly beautiful, breathtakingly beautiful area of the country.
- Despite printing up and following directions, I will get lost.
I told this to the Lemon Drop yesterday afternoon as I asked him to talk me out of the maze of back roads I was on in Rensselaer County. He just laughed and laughed. What makes the entire experience even more funny is that I have a master’s degree in geography.
It isn’t my fault though…
Sure, I have no sense of direction and I second guess any kind of instructions no matter how simple or exact. No, the problem is not on my end, it is with the directions themselves.
Why take me down six back roads when I could easily take a main route the entire way and then a left onto the desired street? Why aren’t roads marked? Or signs twisted so you think you are on the correct road only to realize 3.7 miles later you actually aren’t?
The only thing going for me is that I am not required to find my way around at night. I once had a 1.9 mile night-time journey take me an hour and a half because I missed the one and only left turn I had to make. Yes, a GPS would make my life simpler and my bitching wane, but I don’t think about it until I’m in the middle of nowhere on mile 4.2 when I was supposed to find Barton Road at the 1.6 mile mark. And I’ll forget about everything by the time I hit the road again on Friday.
My faults are many, I’ll admit. I have a problem with any kind of authority (shocker, I know). And I don’t like having to hand control over to anyone or anything (even directions) – I’ll do it, but grudgingly and I am always poised to snatch that control back at the slightest moment of weakness (huh, maybe that’s my issue with men?).
Is that why I keep getting lost? I don’t know and I’m not convinced. I still think Google Maps has it out for me.
Sometimes we can’t say the things we really want to say. Or conversations stop and switch before we get to make the point we really wanted to make. Or we have a delicate or difficult question we really want to ask but miss the opportunity or lack the courage to ask it. What happens when we hold onto these unspoken pieces of ourselves?
Do you forget about them or do you play them over and over in your head? Do you have 1,000 conversations rolling around inside of you…Or is it just me?
Every time I drive these conversations begin to surface. I tell an obnoxious friend that I love them but I don’t like them right now. I ask my closest male friend if I’m pretty or beautiful or plain. I yell at the boys(s) that broke my heart. I share my deepest dreams and fears with the man I love…In my head…as I drive.
I wonder if any of it will come true. I wonder if I should tell my friend that they are being obnoxious. Or if I’m pretty or plain. Or if the man I love would run were I to show him the raw version of me.
In the end, 990 of those 1,000 conversations stay in my head. Of the 10 I say out-loud, maybe one goes well; the rest should have been left unspoken. But how do you know if you keep it all inside? How do you know anything if you don’t take the risk and try?
Spring has finally (kind of) made an appearance in Upstate New York. The Winter was cold and bitter and even snowy…but it was also long. Why is it that we spend all year complaining about the season we’re in? Winter is too cold (or too warm); Spring is too short, too rainy, too cold or non-existent all together; Summer is too hot, too wet, too dry; Fall is too short, too warm, too stormy. I’m just as guilty as the rest, I complain right along with everyone else.
To me, Spring is always about transformation and transformation is never easy or smooth. Transformation, instead, is about stormy emotions, destruction of the old, birth of the new. Muddy paths and windy nights; turmoil and chaos – that is what Spring brings. It is an unsettling of routines, souls and perspectives. It is scary and beautiful all in the same breath. It is about surrender and acceptance.
Spring in Upstate is also the time when fields are plowed and planted. It is the time when farmers emerge from their workshops rested and repaired with a curse on their lips and a prayer in their hearts, prepared for the marathon that is about to begin.
Farmers are always in a tussle with Mother Nature. Last year it was a record warm Spring and a devastating Summer drought. This year, it is the continued cold snap and flooding. We need to get seed in the ground so that it can mature in time and be ready for harvest but we also need the ground warm and dry enough to get into the fields.
For many of us who have a supporting role on farms or in farmers’ lives, planting means saying “goodbye” for a solid six (or more) weeks. I had my goodbye chat last night, planting hasn’t started, but it will in the next few days. There may be a quick call from a tractor cab here and there, but I’m not holding out a lot of hope. After seven years in the country, I’ve gotten used to the rhythm and the calendar that farm men live by. I’m not saying that I like it, I’m just used to it now.
I’m in the process of getting back into the groove. I was in Vegas for a conference last week and I’m now off to another conference in Syracuse tomorrow. The only thing that seems to be getting me through the daylight hours is caffeine – a lot of caffeine.
Lucky for me, I just received a “new” coffee maker. Actually, it’s an ancient relic. A glass percolator that’s 6-cup designation is more like only 2 1/2 cups. It is beautiful, all gold and black and grandma-looking. I think that it was an unopened wedding gift from the 1960’s that somehow found its way to me. I am in love with my percolator, though I’ll admit that there have been a few issues along the way. Brewing a morning cup of joe in a percolator is more of an art than a mindless act of flipping a switch.
For example, if you let the water come to a full boil then you get a mess and a cup full of grounds. Actually, no matter what I do there is a small silt layer at the bottom of the pot every morning. I think that I need to purchase a larger ground coffee than the black-dirt richness that I bought for my other love – my silver one-cup espresso maker.
But regardless, I do not care. Good, bad or silty – my ancient percolator makes me think of breakfasts of scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and grapefruit served in pretty breakfast nooks full of sunshine…even when all I have time for is a rushed cup of coffee in my car on the way to work.
I am about to embark on one great big, holy crap adventure – and I’m kind of terrified. The terror isn’t going to hold me back, in fact it is pushing me forward, but the fears of failure or success or getting hurt along the way – all these things are beginning to knot together in my tummy. You see, next week I am flying to Las Vegas for a national conference where I am going to be part of two panel discussions about farming, women, and communications. It is an amazing opportunity – one that I reached for and grabbed. An opportunity I plan to take full advantage of…but that doesn’t mean I’m not scared to death.
The other morning as I was stirring my coffee and staring at the clock, I realized that all grand adventures are, in some way, kind of terrifying. Adventures aren’t smooth and easy and always full of fun. That’s a vacation. No, adventures are full of tough treks and scary moments and amazing payoffs. I’m ready for the adventure – and the happy ending too.
I’ve been practicing my presentation (about farming, women, and communications) for a few weeks now, but I felt like I needed a fresh perspective. I called my friend, the Lemon Drop (sour and sweet all at the same time) over for dinner. The Lemon Drop realizes that there is no such thing as a free dinner where I am concerned. When I come a-callin’ he can expect a delicious meal, a lot of questions and very likely a blog entry the morning after.
Anyway, I think the best part of the evening was listening to the Lemon Drop reading my presentation about farming, women, and communications. Hearing him say things like “It’s called being a woman, right?” with sincerity made me giggle. A deep, gravelly voice – one that can be grumpy and pumpy at times – talking about the strengths women have, well, it made me see the presentation with fresh eyes and a pretty light heart…and I wasn’t so scared anymore either.
I am going to let you in on a widely known secret: 90% of the time my brain is occupied with romance. How to recognize it (a skill I woefully lack). How to get it (again, not my strong suit). How to define it (yeah, not great there either). How, how, how. I am, without a doubt, a romance addict. A fifteen year-old giggling girl in a thirty-six year-old woman’s body. The thing is, I wasn’t boy crazy at fifteen – that didn’t kick in till I was nearly thirty.
As a romance addict, my latest drug of choice is the Modern Love blog from the New York Times. The other day I read Albert Stern’s essay on his son’s first crush and the girl who stole his heart. A ten minute episode in the life of a two year-old that spoke to the past, the present, and the future of romantic encounters.
Romance is a constant, like prime numbers or Pi. There is a high, then a low that results in either success or failure. Or, as Stern put it: “First you have a little thrill, then a little fun, then a little disappointment, and then come the brain-eating zombies.” How true, how very true.
The muddy paths and March winds tend to bring romance to my door. My most romantic moments have happened in the month of March. This fact has led some of my family and friends to deem March my hottest month. Thus far, there haven’t been any takers in 2013, but we are only thirteen days in so there’s time.
Should romance knock, I’ll be sure to enjoy the ride while keeping an eye out for the brain-eating zombies.