Tag Archives: change

It’s 5:31 p.m. and as dark as midnight

I haven’t posted much since early spring. But I have been writing every day.  As I go about my chores, sit and stare out the window, hang out with friends, I’m composing at a furious rate.

I’ve written about my “a-HA!” garden moment, when I realized that all of the things I’ve been doing to be a “good organic gardener” have gotten in the way of being a sane organic gardener…and therefore, kept me from being a particularly good one.

I’ve written about my excitement over growing more than 19 carrots (10 pounds!).

I’ve written about the presidential primaries, and the candidates on display for our amusement entertainment education.

I’ve written about my frustration, sadness, and impatience with the fact that Larry’s company won’t let him work from the farm, though it’s fully possible.

I’ve written about the abundance of flowers that grow around the house and land, and how they make every day better.

I’ve written about being overwhelmed by peppers and spaghetti squash, and finding recipes to help use them. (Jalapeno-Bacon Poppers with an Avocado, Cream Cheese, and Cheddar filling.  Trust me.)

I’ve written about working as a personal chef, and having it go well while being absolutely exhausting, and figuring out how I want it to look so that I enjoy it.  (Cooking in other people’s houses for them, and putting it on their tables family-style, and hearing the hum of conversation and laughter.)

I’ve written about the hesitation I feel about becoming “an official business.”

I’ve written about missing-not missing the classroom and teaching. Wow, do I miss talking to kids about good books.

I’ve written about the amazing (mostly) books that I’ve read.

I haven’t written any of it down, though, because I have really felt that the world is so very loud and full of words already.  It seems like we are all so busy trying to be heard that no one is listening anymore.  I’ve enjoyed (mostly) just listening.

But now it’s 5:31 p.m. and as dark as midnight, and I’m going to need to fill the dark with something, because the garden is almost done and winter will be long.  So it’s possible that I’ll be here a little more often.  At least until spring, when the light is back and there are seeds to plant.

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Except for this

Our house seemed like the dividing line for tonight’s sky. To the north of us, the clouds were a heavy, low-hanging gray with one bright circle of blue. To the south of us, puffs of clouds scooted across toward Vermont, while the sky around them was a clear-all-the-way-to-another-galaxy icy blue. At the tree line between us and the neighbors, a herd of deer stopped to graze on the newly uncovered ground.

The wind is gusting at us from the northwest, but the spruce trees outside my window seem to only be doing a slow-motion wave in response. Those trees are currently home to a male and female cardinal, a whole bevy of black-capped chickadees, and other birds that I see flitting about but haven’t yet been able to identify.

With the turning of the calendar to March, the earth around us seems to be breathing again. The ice that had everything locked in its grip is losing its hold, and the snow and low temperatures seem unable to stick around for very long. The air outside no longer feels like a slap with an accompanying two-fingered jab up my nose, and when I was scrabbling around in the garden this morning, I found chives starting to poke their pointy green heads out of the ground. Green things! Growing!

As the snow and the earth start to melt, gravity and the slope of the valley are pulling the water toward the lake to our east. The driveway has a creek running down its right side, and the culvert opening across the street by our mailbox has a whoosh of water flowing out of it. At night, the puddles in the yard crust over with ice again so that our evening walks include that satisfying crackling-crunching noise.

Most of the main vegetable garden is showing again, and the tiny hoop tunnel I put over the escarole last November is still standing (though I’m placing no bets on the remaining two escarole plants). The garlic and shallots are still covered by their blanket of leaves, and the row of asparagus gleams a faint yellow when the sun hits the layers of straw. Last fall, I planted daffodils and tulips at the ends of rows, and I walk by and squint to see if any of them are making an appearance. Not yet, though it won’t be long.

I have celeriac, onions, and parsley seeded, a gentle easing-in to the extensive seeding that will happen in April. There are forsythia, lilac, and apple blossoms just around the corner. (And mud. A lot of mud.) The clothesline will be stretched between buildings soon, and that fresh smell will fill the drawers again. The grill will be rolled out, fired up, and cooking by Easter weekend.

I don’t particularly like winter, except for this: without winter, the euphoria that is spring in the Northeast doesn’t happen. I am reveling in the changes.

One of those people…

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True Confession: I’m one of those people who get really excited about holidays and birthdays. I know every day is beautiful blah, blah, blah…but holidays and birthdays are legit reasons to celebrate and be excessive and not have people look at you funny. Unfortunately, I’m also one of those people who get so excited about holidays and birthdays that I have a movie in my head for how I want them to go, and I work really hard to make sure that the decorations and food and…well, everything in my control…are wonderful.
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Only…I never share that movie in my head. Because really, who needs to ‘fess up to that kind of crazy, right? But what it means is that I put all this pressure on myself, and then the day inevitably winds up not matching my movie. And then I’m sad and irritated that it didn’t.

How many of you are collecting sympathy donations for my husband right now? Don’t feel too badly for him…he eats well. And I’m never annoyed at HIM (well, about that stuff, anyway) but I imagine that my end-of-the-day blues are not easy to ignore.

It happened again for Valentine’s Day. The morning started off well, with cards and silly gifts and breakfast, and then we walked the dogs and had lunch (I couldn’t help the cute–the beet soup and sandwich were our lunch). After lunch, we were invited to a 50th birthday celebration for a lovely woman we’ve met since moving to the North Country, and then we got home and snacked on melty brie with cranberry chutney…and here’s where my movie went awry.

I had planned a delicious, simple dinner (An awesome chicken ragu with bacon from The Kitchn, a salad, and a DIVINE Salted Caramel Creme Brulee from Fine Cooking. I’d even made the ragu and the custard in advance, so we could enjoy dinner without any pressure.
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But we weren’t hungry. Because we ate so much cheese.

And I was sad and annoyed. And then I was annoyed that I was sad and annoyed. So I decided enough, already. When I woke up on Sunday, I mentally hit the reset button and we went and had a Valentine’s Day Redux. We had a leisurely morning with breakfast and while Larry did a quick snow-plow of the drifting snow from the driveway, I packed us a light lunch to bring over to Vermont. We went to the Shelburne Museum to see the Kodachrome and jewelry exhibits, ran some quick errands, stopped into a bar for a beer and a snack, and headed home to finally have that dinner. Which was lovely.
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The moral of the story: I’m going to work on the whole birthday/holiday-movie-in-my-head thing. And I’ll be making that creme brulee a lot. I mean, A LOT, a lot. You should, too.
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I am.

The world right now is too big and too much. It is clamoring for my attention via email and student projects, meetings and phone calls. It is yelling at me with boxes and things to pack and drawers to empty. It is insisting that I get up in the morning, and stay awake all day. It worries me with the garden that is 300 miles away. It doesn’t recognize that I am six and a half days from unbecoming something I have been becoming for twenty-three years.

People ask, “How are you doing?” and I no longer know how to answer. I am doing. I am feeling. And both change every second. I answer by resting my forehead against the nearest wall, or shrugging a shoulder. The best answer I can give is, “I am.”

As hard as this feels, or as easy, depending on the moment, “I am,” is a lucky answer to give.

I am leaving teaching, but I got to teach for twenty-one years.
I am packing my room, but I got to inhabit that space for ten years and make it mine.
I am moving from one state to another, but I have wonderful homes and friends in each state.
I am packing my house, but I have a house full of memories and useful things to pack.
I am temporarily leaving my husband behind, but I have an amazing husband who has supported me every step of this insane journey.

I am tired.
I am sad.
I am happy.
I am terrified.
I am excited.

I am.

And it is enough.