Make Hay

Ice Pond Farm at Dusk WIP

I worked today like every other Sunday. Today was a bit different, though. I worked my favorite café in Cambridge, New York, which isn’t so different except that I rarely get there on a Sunday anymore. It was different, too, because my new friend Susan, newly transplanted from downstate and another good friend, Liz, from writing group met for lunch, and we bonded while I worked.

The day was a gift.

Work ended, and I closed up my laptop and headed to the grocery store in Bennington, Driving through White Creek, New York to get there. As I passed the country store, I noticed a sign sending love and wishes to the Gulley family, noting that today, in addition to being a beautiful Sunday in August, was the day that they were laying to rest a family member.

I only had the privilege of meeting at Ed Gulley a few times (I got to know his wife Carol better through writing group and impromptu meetings at the grocery and feed stores) at writing group. Our family first met him and at an open house at Bedlam Farm in Cambridge.

A dairy farmer who had embraced his creative side later in life, creating distinctive sculptures with found objects from around his farm, Ed stood under an apple tree next to a soft brown cow, talking about farm life and issues facing dairy farmers that never make it in to the news. His no-nonsense manner and colorful turns of phrase kept even our then nine-year-old interested in the finer points of milk prices, and that alone would’ve made him fun and fascinating.

But as I got to meet Ed, as I come out like so many others got to know him and his family through his and Carol’s blog, he was more than merely interesting. He was inspiring. For me, marveling at his embrace of his creative gifts later in life, reading the family’s posts about their time together at the end, he was the embodiment of the idea that life is not to be taken for granted, that time isn’t to be wasted.

I had begun the day grousing to myself because I knew I would not be able to paint very long tonight. T1 has an upcoming transfusion, and we need to make the 2 1/2 hour drive to the hospital after work on Monday night so we can be there as soon as their lab opens Tuesday morning.

As I drove back from the grocery store, however, I passed one of my favorite scenes in Arlington, Vermont, Ice Pond Farm. Instead of grumbling about what I might not be able to do with limited time tonight or tomorrow, I thought about the man and the family that have lived their lives so fully that their town felt the loss of one of them number, and focused on doing as many of the things that can be done with the limited time we all have.

Fresh Start

One of the things I’m loving about oil painting, aside from it being a shiny new object in my life, is it if you don’t love whatever it is you’ve done, painting anything on canvas or wood, makes it easy to (cue the tune of “Many a New Day” from the soundtrack of Oklahoma) pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again. This is tonight’s future fresh start.

Mental Meandering 

T1 had to go to Dartmouth for labs today. We’re t-minus 2 weeks before college classes start, And the jury is still out as to whether or not he will be there.
We finished a less than optimistic appointment and blood draw, and as we were heading back and passed a car dealer we’ve past dozens of times before, T1 spotted a Dodge Challenger prominently displayed at the front of the lot. He’s wanted to test drive one since he got his license, but no self-respecting car dealer would let a kid with a junior license and no willing cosigner breathe on the car, let alone turn the key in the ignition.
Today, however, he’s 18 and seven days, and hearing the bad news that his inflammation is still in full gear had him spoiling for a fight with the summer that has been dull as dishwater for him.
he’s been severely anemic, and even regular iron infusions aren’t letting his body produce red blood cells. He’ll engage in activities one day and then needs to rest on the couch for the next two days and regain his energy. A birthday road trip with the Big Guy exhilarated him and left him we charging for the rest of last week.
He has been resting all week prior to the appointment, saving his small burst of energy for today, and when he asked if we could try to talk them into a test drive, I acquiesced and turned into the car lot.
We haven’t been letting him drive much this summer, and he hasn’t been fighting us on the subject. I knew he was asking for this one favor that he was going to happily exhaust himself with a 20 minute test drive.
The salesman got his information. He asked if T1 had a cosigner, and I had to suppress a giggle. He seemed to be aware that we were there to drive and not but today, but it was quiet in the dealership, and he seemed happy to show a fellow car enthusiast the ins and outs of the metallic red cop magnet just outside the show room.
he went through the motions of the paperwork and then lead T1 outside. I stayed behind to prevent any attempts to play on my sympathies. my phone battery had died, and I got my sketchbook out, letting my imagination and pen meander to a field in creek near our house, since nothing in the showroom begged to be preserved.
About 20 minutes later, they pulled back into the parking lot. T1 got out of the car, beaming for the first time all summer. If I could have, I would have bought the car right then and there just to thank the salesman for being so generous with his time and giving a gift so desperately needed.
It was a little joy in the summer that’s been quite bleak for my first born, And it seemed like such a silly place to find it. But one thing we learned over the last eight months is that no matter where those little bits of joy pop up, you have to grab them and be grateful when they do.