Living in Two Places

130502 Back Forty Pond

I’ve lived in a few places. Work, family, friends, lovers have all taken me all over but I always have come back to Rowe.  A person I grew up with told me that this town was part of his soul, he hasn’t lived here since 1975.  I know that feeling, where you drive into a place over a familiar road not seen in a while and something happens, you feel it in your gut, that little flutter.  You know you are home.

I live in two worlds, fortunately they are close enough in distance so I can escape one for the other. Rowe

Just for my own comparison I snipped out the vital info about Rowe and Enfield.  Rowe with its 24 square miles and 393 people compared to Enfield with its 34 square miles and 44,654 people at last count. That means there is .49 acres per person in Enfield and 39.09 per person in Rowe.  No wonder I feel like I’m suffocating while I’m in CT.  That’s probably not a fair assessment but it does speak to the rural vs. urban/suburban situation I find myself in.

Enfield, CT

You will also notice the difference in temperature and dew point.  In the summer it’s a difference you notice, in the winter it’s night and day.  The growing season is at least 2 weeks ahead in Enfield.  The last frost is something we see at the end of April.  In Rowe there is nothing that goes into my garden earlier than Memorial Day – ever.

The one difference I truly notice is the quiet (and solitude).  In Enfield there is air traffic over our house close to 24 hours a day – we are on the landing path to Bradley in CT.  I think at night I can see the people sitting in their seats as they fly in for a landing.  The street we live on is very busy and we are within hearing distance of the railroad tracks where Amtrak runs during the day.  Yes, planes, trains and automobiles – the noise never ends.  Everyone is always in a hurry to get nowhere as well.  You have to be a fairly aggressive driver in this harried place.  In our spare time in Enfield we can work on the house (with our neighbors chatting us up over the fence), shop or eat at a chain restaurant.  I used to have very large perennial gardens around the house but it’s not the quiet, meditative project that it is in Rowe.  Now I look at what I can dig up and move, turning the yard back into something that can just be mowed.

When I get home to Rowe everything slows down.  The driving, the breathing, the thinking – once I arrive there is nowhere I need to be but there.  There is enough to keep me occupied for days on end without ever leaving the property.  I breathe the clean air, listen to the birds, contemplate life.  My bedroom window is open at least three seasons so I can hear the owls at night and the birds wake me up in the morning.  I can drink my cup of coffee watching the sun rise over the back forty and the mist dissipate in its heat.

I think everyone needs to find a place of peace if they are not living in it.  I think that’s why people appear to be so crazy right now or they have such health problems.  They are so far removed from the natural world that they are never grounded – at all.  The sad thing is so many never know what it’s like to be grounded in nature, they don’t understand how healing it can be.  I know people I see often that I just want to shake and say “Take an afternoon and go to a state forest and walk, breathe, listen!  Hug a tree, absorb the energy around you.”  And they would look at me with those eyes that say “You are nuts.”

Sandwiched and Still Sane (Sort of)

130512 Rug Hooking (2)I’m currently part of what is referred to as the “Sandwich Generation”.  My father is in assisted living and I have one of my daughters unemployed living at home, a boomerang.

People think assisted living is pretty awesome, and it is for the most part.  I wasn’t truly aware of how much “assisting” I would have to do, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not that challenging.  The expense is exorbitant and increases exponentially a couple of times a year.  That is not something I was expecting although it’s what is happening with healthcare and I suppose this could be very loosely considered healthcare.  There’s a nurse on duty every day but for the most part people enter assisted living because they can no longer live alone.

I really am starting to think the “Squeeze” generation is a more appropriate term.  Every 6 months the expenses go up another 10 to 20% and we are long past what my father’s income is. Being self employed gives you the luxury (or fear) of knowing just where you stand financially.  It also allows you to see into the future a little ways.  I don’t have to worry about job security but I’m also well aware that my income will probably stay where it is for the foreseeable future.

In the back of our minds (and coming to the forefront) is the idea that Dad may have to live with me in the near future.  It’ll be more like me living with him because he will have to live in Rowe.  The logistics of this are challenging in part due to the isolation of this little town.  This is a difficult situation with someone who is limited in their mobility, it’s not like he willingly goes for rides or even leaves his house.  Everyone needs some sort of  human interaction and there just isn’t a lot available.  I’m working on a solution, but the anxiety sometimes gets the best of me.

This is when I weave, knit, hook, something.  This is what keeps me sane in an insane world, my world.  As long as my hands are busy I can think about ways to make it all work.  Or I can just lose myself in the rhythm of weaving or knitting or hooking – and feel the fiber running through my fingers.  There is nothing that calms my spirit more.