Saturday, October 09, 2004

Simple Pleasures 

North today for a day of stereotypical New England authenticity, just me and a billion leafpeepers going slow on the highway past the blazing hills and the gold-frosted trees on the median. But where the tourists gawked and gamboled, buying their way into a slice of rural life for a pound of flesh and a long drive home, I had a purpose, a place to belong: two exits into Vermont, past the farmer's market, left at the convenience store and up the dirt road to my wife's childhood home, where Willow and Darcie had come earlier while I still slept, and Darcie's brother Josh and his long-time partner Clay had just arrived.

For the next few hours I buried my daughter up to her neck in crisp fallen leaves while my mother-in-law raked and puttered, and Josh, Clay, Darcie and father-in-law Neil leaned on ladders and knees at house and garage, repainting the grungy trim white to match the impending winter. We ate freshbaked cookies when we tired, and, when youngest-child Virginia arrived, a late lunch together around the dining room table.

After lunch and a quick trip into town for an oil change, Virginia and I drove down the hill to the Fire Station, where a Pop Warner car wash and pie fundraiser had left the dirt parking lot flooded with white suds, and stood in the truck bay under the long ladders while the fire chief wrote up a brush fire permit. "Get marshmallows if you get the permit," they had said before we left, so we did.

Back at the house father-in-law Neil, once a local fire fighter, prepped the pile with his younger progeny while three generations of strongwilled and earth-loving women and I walked through the pick-your-own pumpkins to the self-service farmstand next door. I got a baguette made Friday from four ingredients and a pair of the season's last tomatoes and ate them leaning on the mailbox, watching cars pass in dustclouds on the dirt road while "the girls" checked out the cowmilking in the nearby barn, and the calf born yesterday.

We followed the rising smoke home, threw dry corn stalks on the fire to hear the corn pop whole we waited for the grass and steam to burn off, and roasted marshmallows together, a family in the yard on the last days of a long and fruitful year.

And finally, as the largest logs began to fall into ash, I left Darcie and Willow there staring into the coals, and drove home into the dusk, the sky behind as red as the autumn leaves, Garrison Keillor on the radio, my heart filled with love for this world, this place, a New England no leafpeeper could ever truly know.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:00 PM |

Post a Comment
coming soon
now listening