Monday, May 14, 2007

the flowers that bloom in the spring, tra la

Lilacs. Another difference about the spring here is that when I drive with the window open I actually smell the flowers. I think there was too much odor competition in Brooklyn; even if I walked across the street and right up to that magnolia by Laurie and William's stoop I couldn't smell it. Of course I also smell the manure here, and the fertilizer, and other cow and animal smells. But I don't mind them, they smell like life. Don't get me wrong, I love New York, but it doesn't usually smell like life.

A cow update: Our next door neighbors have two calves and are getting more. These two are tied up to the kids' jungle gym and they bawl and howl for food at regular intervals. They sound like grown-up cows. Doesn't bother us a bit. We like cows, especially when there's three or four grazing about 10 feet beyond our clothes line. I moo at them as I go to work and they stare at me.

No, the only sound we don't like is the damn route 9 10 feet the other direction. On these warm spring nights we sleep with the windows closed -- or at least the fan on. Route 9 is a major east-west thoroughfare and the commuters start as early as 4 am on weekdays. We will not miss that. We'll have the distant hum of I-91 about a mile away, but it's not a problem.

Eaating lots of fresh asparagus lately, and today, fresh asparagus ice cream. Well, I had it. I learned a shortcut home through Hadley and it takes me by the famous Flayvors of Cook Farm on South Maple. It's the start of the season and the owner was training a new person, who gave me a taste of the asparagus ice cream but two scoops to take home to Dave of the pistachio. We liked the pistachio, which is also green. I guess the lesson is to separate your green ice creams in the cases. I'm sure there is more asparagus ice cream in our futures. Hadley appears to have a lot of farms, although I think Cook Farm is the last dairy in town; the local crops seem to be vegetables and malls, the latter of which keep the taxes ridiculously low.

Thinking about passing the years waiting for the next vegetable or fruit to come into season made me wonder how we marked the seasons in New York City. It all depends on what your interests are, but I know several people who know it's autumn because the Met is opening, or the theater season. You know it's Christmas, well, you always know it's Christmas in New York, but perhaps your special event is The Nutcracker at New York City Ballet, or the Messiah at Carnegie Hall. The spring means Encores; March means Mark Morris Dance Group is at BAM. August is the Fringe Festival. October means the Yankees are in the World Series, or at least that's how it used to be. And no, I'm not going to link all those. Look 'em up if you want to know.

Of course if you are a parent you mark it by the school schedule: in public elementary schools, November is parent-teacher conferences; January and March are the language and math tests; the first Thursday in June is Brooklyn-Queens Day, which instead of being eliminated entirely, the sensible thing, is now called something else and celebrated by all five boroughs. This day commemorates the founding of those two towns and means yet another day off when working parents are scrambling for childcare. Very annoying -- and then school continues on another three weeks, to end just before July.

Yesterday, Mother's Day, silly holiday. I was served breakfast in bed, complete with an extensive menu of selections, and got to read the paper awhile, until I was made to read Harry Potter, book six (I know what's going to happen in book seven). I chose pancakes, at Lily's request, but then she didn't eat them. Also bacon, yum, and a smoothie, yum. Later we all cleaned house, did laundry, and sorted her clothes seasonally and by size. (She's grown another half inch! She's moving from an eight to a 10, Mum, in most things. She says she's getting hips so now she can wear jeans without a belt. Could be. Also, it turns out there's an extensive hand-me-down network at work, being that most of the staff are parents of young children. I'm bringing in two grocery bags tomorrow.)

I did miss walking around the Slope yesterday -- boy, you sure do walk a lot in the city and you never walk here at all -- and everyone, strangers, even, saying Happy Mother's Day! Always cracked me up. Even in recent years I'd turn to see who they were talking to. It's not that no one says it here, it's just that you don't see masses of people the way you do in the city, and thus have millions of opportunities.

Then later in the afternoon we went to a friend of Lily's so she could join their Dungeons and Dragons game. It was the real thing, just like I remembered from playing in 1978. She's a druid elf and can talk to animals and heal things. At the end of this round she was in a cave fending off giant spiders while three of her cohorts were lying on the ground unconcious from their injuries and the fourth was off in town getting a healing potion. And her dog had run off. She seemed to get into it and enjoy herself, and she's not the only girl, which is kinda nice. A couple of boys from her class are playing. The host family has been particularly welcoming and friendly.

Then today her grade went to the Quabbin (see my early post on this, in, oh, March?) and Dave joined them. She's taking knitting Monday afternoons and that's pretty hilarious because it started out as a kids' afterschool thing and it's mostly adults in a stitch and bitch. Lily loves it.

This summer she is going to riding camp in Hadley for four weeks and on the second Friday of each two-week session they have a cook-out, hay ride, and bonfire. The next day, Saturday, there's a little show of what the kids have learned for us parents. Then she's doing the art camp in Hatfield -- this place sounds amazing, a barn converted into studio space -- and she chose two weeks of making pottery on the wheel. (That's what she's doing every Friday right now, too, but at the Amherst Community Arts Center.) She finishes camp at Bement for two weeks in August making paper and doing campy things. Some of her future classmates will be there, too, at that time.

She's lonely again right now, and feels a bit out of it at school. She's excited about the new house but told me tonight she still likes the Brooklyn place the best. I gotta say I don't miss it one tiny little bit.

The best part about the summer is that we are off to Family Camp at Farm and Wilderness again the third week in August. That's where we went last year for five days and it was a gas, although Dave and I worked hard, harder than some. Maybe this year we'll get to relax a bit more.

As for the house, I've been joking that we're going to sign the contract -- what they call the purchase and sales agreement, here, or the P&S, at the closing. In fact we finally got it today, only a week late. We knew this would happen and it really didn't phase me very much. Sure ain't New York...

Anyway, we are going to do some work before we move in, but not a lot. Paint, carpets, necessary repairs, maybe a laundry room in the basement, particularly so we can install a slop sink and have a dehumidifier draining into it 24/7. It is really in great shape. Maybe we'll post more pictures then.

Note to selves. We need to join:

Mass. Audubon
Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC)
Look Park in Northampton? is there something to join?
The YMCA in Northampton, probably. It has free childcare.
The Broad Brook Coalition, the folks who watch over Fitzgerald Lake lead birding walks and wild flower walks every weekend from now into the fall. We may already be members. I can't wait.

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