Friday, August 17, 2007

ursus americani

Be sure to check out the new photos of the house that Dave has posted, in the links to the right. This is our house now, with our paint and furniture. We await you, our invited guests.

We had lots of company last weekend. Mike and Steph came for the night with Nicky and Sabrina. Other friends from Brooklyn stopped by for an hour on their way from picking up their older daughter at overnight camp -- we are on the camp circuit here -- and for awhile all five kids were frolicking all over the house. It seems to be a great house for kids to play in, although no matter how many playrooms, family rooms, and outdoor spaces there are, they all still want to play on Mom and Dad's bed. Pretty cute there, though.

The Rings stayed the night before heading to Boston for a night, and we grilled some chicken and had fresh corn. Later we went into Northampton to get an ice cream and walked around town. It reminds me of Park Slope in the evening, with all the bustle and variety. We ended up at Faces, one of those great stores that has dirty tee-shirts and many silly toys for kids and adults alike, as well as cheap furniture suitable for a dorm room. The kids were enthralled and it was hard to play the meanie and say no we're not buying anything.

But everyone missed the now routine bear sighting: On Sunday evening, at about 6:30, I was here at my computer and looked out the window to the deck. There was a large bear trying to decide if she should climb the deck stairs or not. I shouted bear, which may have scared her away, and while Dave and Lily scrambled from room to room try to follow her path around the house, I first heard then saw two bears through the bushes in our neighbors yard. They were fighting over peaches -- the neighbors have a peach tree, or I should say "had," after Sunday. They broke off one of the two main branches in their efforts to get peaches. Afterwards we walked over and found the ground torn up, half the tree destroyed, a few pits, and a half-eaten peach.

This is about the fifth time one of us has seen them, I think. We didn't have bears in Brooklyn! I also feel more confident in my unease at walking in these woods alone. We went to visit Nick and Emily in New Hampshire last Sunday. They are now just an hour away(!) and we went to raid their massive blueberry bushes. Acres of 'em. And perfect this year. We talked about picking -- Emily is a neat picker, Dave and I are sloppier. She doesn't have to pick them over after she gets them home, but we do, to clean out the green ones and the twigs, etc.

Anyway, Emily says she still gets nervous walking alone in her woods and she always takes a dog or two with her--she has Labs. And I don't think she has bears. I realized, if Emily is scared, then I should be at least apprehensive. I don't have a big dog to warn me or protect me about strange people or animals.

If you've been reading this blog you know our house is on conservation land, and one of the access paths is straight out our back door about 100 yards. But there was so much underbrush we didn't know quite how to get there. Now Dave has carved out a path, and Lily and I helped last Saturday, and it's much clearer.

Lily has finished up summer camp and we are all off to family camp next week. Sunday morning early we're going to visit Blair and David in the Adirondacks, first, though, and I can't wait. We are bringing all our farm share veggies, as they are really in the forest, with no farms within 100 miles. Just a gorgeous private lake. On Tuesday we'll drive over to Farm and Wilderness and go to Family Camp. It was a year ago that we went to Family Camp, the first time I had been back at F&W as more than an overnight guest in 27 years, and the first time I'd been there since I'd interviewed co-founder Susan Webb about her concept of God for LIFE in 1990.

My life changed at Family Camp last summer. It was there that I suddenly realized I didn't have to live the way I had been, not just in New York City, but also with my own self-imposed limitations. It sounds silly to say it but I have never been much on arts and crafts, always too judgmental of my work. And last summer I made a friendship bracelet for myself, and one for Dave. I tie-dyed a shirt for him and one for Lily. I learned to juggle two balls (and sort of three). I hosted a tea party for a dozen kids. I dressed up for the fashion show. I played Ultimate with the teenagers -- and made a spectacular flying catch. It was like I was a kid again, but the kid I never was.

And as we were driving home down I-91 in driving rain storm, we passed Amherst and Northampton and I thought, if you lived here you'd be home by now. When we got to 684 it was night, and still the rain, and as we passed by the airport we could see a very weird kind of flashing light. It was clearly for the planes but all I could think was, we're being bombed. We're being bombed.

We were not being bombed. But I knew then that I wanted to move. I didn't say anything at first. At first I sat with it, telling only Dave. But then around Labor Day I tried it out on Jenna. A couple of weeks later, Sylvia, who said, if it's meant to be it will happen easily, and the next week Dave's company closed. That was the end of September and as you know, by Thanksgiving we had sold our condo, rented a a house in Amherst, and enrolled Lily in school. So this is a big anniversary week.

I don't regret it one bit. I don't regret moving sooner, either. I think we left at just the right time, although it was hard for poor Lily. Transition is hard, these past eight or 10 months have been hard. But now that we have a house we love and I have a job I love and Dave is getting some needed free time and rest and Lily has made some friends -- the Bement camp was great for that, for meeting some of her future classmates and making friends with them; she's had a fabulous summer -- I am even more sure that this was the right move.

It hasn't always been easy, to be sure, but facility isn't the gage of anything. And in the big ways, it's been ridiculously easy. This is where we were meant to be. I have no regrets, and I don't think Dave does. Lily misses Brooklyn, but hey, they don't have bears in Brooklyn.

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