Enjoying not surviving. Staying positive in troubled times. July, beginning our fifth month of “stay at home.” No longer mandated in Pennsylvania, in Bucks, but we are being careful. No beaches or bars for us just yet. As Spring turned to Summer I accepted that we would probably not travel. For us Cape Cod in August is on hold at best. How can we enjoy, just home.
Most mornings I take a canal walk. As the weather has gotten hotter (90s today), I walk earlier. I try to walk to Somers Bridge — missing a day or two of walking makes it quite hard. Today was fine.
I looked for small pleasures — the blue sky, tall trees, the canal, reflections in the water, chirping birds, a Great Blue, shades of green, shadows and shade, backyards with Adirondack chaired, fire pits, canoes, fellow travelers, some masked, smiling waving, good morning. I recently read “At Seventy: a journal” by Maine’s May Sarton. She reveled in the small things, flowers in the wild or garden, birds, a call or visit from friends, writing letters to admirers. Live simply and enjoy each minute.
At home I have scrambled eggs, garden peppers and cheese on the deck. I grab a new copy of Yankee magazine. I can take a virtual trip to New England. There are articles on painters and craftsmen. The Connecticut Art Trail looks like a neat trip. The lead article “A World Away: Maine’s spectacular Blue Hill region awaits,” draws my undivided attention.
We first visited the Blue Hill peninsula in the early seventies after reading “The Good Life.” I wrote to Helen and Scott Nearing (back-to-the-earth prophets) asking if we could visit. With John and Barbara Paglione and my father we drove north in two VW bugs to a small plexi-glass handyman A-frame built by Bill Lynn from Bristol. My father snapped a classic photo of us with the Pagliones on the small deck. Next day we drove to the Nearings.
We went back to the Blue Hills several times. Most recently, about 12 years ago. The Kwait Brothers Band (now Cabin Dogs) we’re invited to play at a local festival. Jenny, Rob and baby Eli camped. Diane and I stayed in a B and B, in Brooklin, not far from the farm where E.B.White wrote “Charlotte’s Web.” One day we drove to Stonington, stopping in Buck’s Harbor with it’s scenes from Robert McCloskey’s “Morning in Maine.” We also found the Nearing property, now “The Good Life Center” in Brooksville. What memories, they were building the stone house above when we visited. Next door we were amazed to see that organic farmer Eliot Coleman was still there. I couldn’t help but introduce myself, we had visited decades ago. Oh yes, the festival was fantastic and the Kwait Brothers were a huge success.
Amazing how one Yankee magazine article brings such a rush of memories, a virtual trip in the present and a visit to the past. From the magazine, I also wrote down Lobster Landing, in Clinton, Connecticut — possible stop on our next trip to Cape Cod. I discovered two books of interest, Bill Henderson’s “Tower: Faith, Vertigo and Amateur Construction” and Peter Korn’s “Why We Make Things and Why It Matters: the education of a craftsman.” I’ll probably order both, more New England escapes.
We’ve taken fewer trips than I would like. Several weeks ago we explored Upper Bucks, Nockamixon Lake, and had ice cream at Wow Cow. Another day we drove around Hunterdon County, NJ above Frenchtown. Our first outside dining was at Kasey’s near Tinicum Park. I had a tasty pastrami. Last week we joined my sister, Vicky and her husband, Ted at the Black Bass for lunch on their outside deck. Once we got umbrella covering, the setting was delightful. I had a lobster crab salad.
Zoubi, a small French restaurant was new to us. We had a gift certificate and initially I was concerned they might not reopen. I was wrong, they have been there ten years and were serving weekend dinners. There is not much indoor seating, just a small bar but there is a charming patio, plants, flowers, rusting doorway. New Hope was crowded, lots of young couples without masks but we found street parking behind Main and avoided the crowds. For a while we had the patio to ourselves. Very nice and Diane’s scallops and my tuna with Sobu noodles and eggplant compote were both delicious. Cocktails, wine, beer, a memorable meal.
Tuesday nights are Lobster nights at the Pineville Tavern. We planned take out but they said no to the lobster. So we sat on the patio. Unfortunately there was no corn but the lobster was tender and sweet. I passed on the fries and doubled up on the slaw. Another fantastic meal and although it rained hard the new tent kept us dry. Dave Sears had recently written about the glut of Maine lobsters (China not buying) so I called him, we were trying to help. In June we also had two takeouts from the Yardley Inn. Both times, soft shell crabs (my favorite), asparagus and mashed potatoes. I might add most all these meals have involved speciality cocktails and dessert — tiramisu several times. We’ve made a list of about 12 outdoor dining spots; don’t want indoor yet. July should be busy.
The garden keeps me busy and it’s in pretty good shape. Still picking greens, new seeds have sprouted. Peppers, fennel and eggplants are coming in. Beans, cucumber and squash plants are flowering. Green tomatoes on some plants. With time available and a little energy, I’ve been able to keep the weeds pulled. I still make daily salads and have done a bit of bread baking. Not enough.
Afternoons are still devoted to reading. I’ll save specific titles for another time. But I’m reading a mix fiction and nonfiction; new books and rereads from the shelves. If I read in the morning or early afternoon, I’ve been sitting on the deck. Sometimes it’s just sitting. It’s not the ocean, bay, beach or special scenery but the yard looks good — a HGP grad is cutting it for me. I’m thankful for it. A few days ago a guy in a wheelchair who pushes up Florence Avenue most days said, “You have a nice property.” Plain, nothing dramatic, but yes nice, particularly in “stay at home.”
I miss people contact the most. The “hellos” on the canal are nice. Occasionally I cross paths with a local I know. We might stop and chat a few minutes. I make telephone calls, regularly to Jenny and my sisters. Weekly to cousin Ellen and John Paglione. Actually we’ve been doing Face Time Thursday nights with Pagliones. And I sometimes check my address book and call former and current HGP friends, guys from college. It’s like pulling a number out of a hat. Something sparks a memory of the person, so I call. Jen, Rob and the kids have visited and Taylor’s have come for drinks and pizza.
I try to shut out the negatives, news of the virus, Trump, politics, controversy about masks, civil rights protests. Too much FaceBook, newspaper articles, and the nightly news, usually CNN. But I’m addicted. I only think about cutting back. Need more music and movies.
Every day is a challenge. Go slow. Enjoy. The small things. The rituals, traditions, friendships, with a touch of the new, some explorations, a touch of serendipity. And I’m thankful.