Today sister Sue sent me an article entitled How Not To Be Alone that was published this past Sunday in the NYT. As I was reading it I was struck by how I’ve seen every technological change that was talked about in this article. Growing up in a small, small community helped me see these changes in a more personal and much slower way. Cell service is still non-existent in the town but the internet arrived a little while ago. Our friends still drop in for unexpected visits which I always find delightful. I think it says a lot about the relationship when you are comfortable enough to just get into your car and drive to a friend’s house expecting a quality visit. The friends we have in Rowe are all comfortable with interrupting our day, they know we don’t see it as an interruption but as a time to reconnect.
It’s not the same in Enfield. You cannot drop in on friends without an appointment. People’s lives in suburbia are a very different thing. Everything is so much faster, more frenetic. I have lived in Enfield since 1984, we have lived in our house since 1998. I still do not know my neighbors even though I can walk around the block and see what everyone is watching on their televisions on any given night – and I can walk it in less than 10 minutes. We have a few long time friends but they are not people we see on a regular basis – it’s always good to visit with them but it doesn’t happen often.
My kids would tell you that the reason we don’t have relationships with people in Enfield, where we spend over half of our lives right now, is because we are never here. I think the real reason we are never here is because we don’t have the relationships we have in Rowe. We have a community in Rowe, people who care enough about each other to stop by and talk face to face.
A couple of years ago I had internet put into the house in Rowe. I did it because the girls always complained about not having it, they were disconnected. I tried to convince them that it was a GOOD thing. What has happened over the past couple of years is that I use it more. I use it to communicate with them. It saddens me to realize they will probably never realized the joy of friends dropping by without an “appointment”. Our gatherings are more planned, just as joyous but I think something is lost in the spontaneity.
I did it. I ordered my seeds yesterday. A commitment has been made. Now all that’s left is the layout.
My favorite gardens have been potagers. They are functional and beautiful. They are interesting enough so I want to weed them and keep them clean (alright, sorta weeded and clean). One of the real reasons I love potagers so much is the look on Russell’s face when he sees it. He’s a straight row kind of guy and he always looks at my garden with scepticism. It makes me laugh. My garden has rows, just not all rows. I like things to have a certain whimsy about them yet be functional at the same time. I always plant things for the birds, bees and butterflies. I like color. Consequently I plant things that other people don’t. I love Scarlet Runner Beans. They are beautiful to grow. Hummingbirds and butterflies love them. I love picking the beans at the end of the season and marveling at their bright purple and pink spots. I can’t say that I like eating them so I plant them with another pole bean that I will eat and put up.
Each year I look through my past garden plans to see where the potatoes or tomatoes were planted in the past few years so I can rotate them around. The potatoes are always planted in rows because of the ease in hilling but I plant the tomatoes in all different configurations. This year I may plant blocks or circles of separate varieties instead of in rows. I also will be planting fewer varieties, but maybe more yellows. My new seed for the year will be Tom Thumb popcorn. I always try something totally different. Corn isn’t a do or die for me so when I plant it I do it totally out of curiosity. I figure it’ll probably turn into fodder for raccoons but you don’t know until you try.
Things to remember this year is to add a lot of compost before I till. Stake the tomatoes early (so they don’t get away from me). Get more caution tape for fencing – yes, works better than anything I’ve found although it isn’t all that pretty. Sharpen the weeding tools.
Best of all I will be cleaning off the Adirondack chairs in preparation for relaxing and enjoying the view.
For the past five years we have been working to reclaim some of what was once pasture in the back of the house. My father always referred to it as the back forty and the name has stuck. The above photo is a panoramic taken last year at the end of burn season. We have been picking a spot to clear and burn every winter and work towards that when there isn’t a lot of snow.
This photo is directed towards the back forty and was taken in 2007. It was completely overgrown with ash, cherry and grapevines. With the help of family and friends we have been working on restoring a view from the lawn.
In 2009 we achieved an opening and I was thrilled to sit in the adirondack chairs and get a glimpse of the back pasture. We continued to clear and burn. Finally in 2011 this was the view we had.
The project continues. We have reached the stone wall to the south and also to the north although they need to be cleared of smaller trees and bittersweet, a project in itself, as well as freshening up the stonewalls where the stones have fallen to the ground. At some point we would like to see Adams Mountain again as they once could.
View of Adams Mountain from the back forty taken about 1885.