On Winter at the Farm
It’s February, Presidents’ Day Weekend. Simply Not Done is in Boothbay for the weekend, because that’s what we do. At least, that’s what we’ve done for the past seven years.
This morning it’s cold and sunny up here on the hillside, with the snowy fields falling away towards the woods. Up back, the apple trees are waving their bare arms toward a sky a clear brilliant blue that would ring
like a bell if you could reach high enough to flick it with your fingernails. The wind, though, is shaking the windows in their frames. The temperature outside is hovering around freezing; while inside, it’s warm, with slats of sun falling across the rugs on the hardwood floor in the living room. And we are five women, sprawling about on sofas and comfy chairs, dueling with our laptops.
Last night, on her way up from Cambridge, Brenda ran head on into a brilliant orange full moon on Route 1; this morning she’s surgically implanting it into a story. Every once in a while, Becky will read out a paragraph or two that she’s been constructing in her heart memoir. Kasey is looking up recipes for mandelbrot, while Jan is tapping away at a chapter she needs to bring to her writing group on Wednesday. I am feeling guilty in forty different positions, because–in Doctor Brenda’s diagnosis–I am
suffering from productive procrastination. I have just ordered my pounds sterling, for delivery this week (since I have to be home to sign for the package, and this is my last chance before we leave in April); I am studiously avoiding two major pieces of work I need to deal with now, and am writing a blog post instead. On the stereo, Yoko Miwa (one of Brenda’s clients at Brenda Prescott Coordinates) and her trio are jazzing away.
This is us. It’s what we do. It’s nice. We’ve been doing this since we met in grad school: working together. Workshopping together. Laughing hysterically about nothing in particular. Eating well.
Meanwhile, the morning draws on, and it’s lovely. The weather appears to be cooperating–when we go out into the world later, to walk Tracker the Beagle or drive into town for some more supplies (damn! I forgot whipping cream!), we will not have to deal with frightful cold, nor raging snow. We’ve had both of those on this weekend
before. I remember a walk down toward the cove one year when my extremities were frozen almost immediately upon setting off; suffice it to say that we never got down to the water that afternoon. We’ve had to cut the weekend short a time or two when February storms have rolled up the coast; there’s a minor one coming this long weekend, in fact, but it’s not expected in until Monday around noon, when we’d be packing it up anyway. One weekend, when we were housebound because of the incredible well-below-zero windchill factor, we were surrounded by turkeys, who patrolled the field and kept a wary watch on us all with their beady red eyes. Becky says this year the coyotes have been very much in evidence; so far we haven’t heard them, but the scuttlebutt has it that they hotwired Brenda’s car last night and went into Boothbay to find the one bar open in February.
We stay up late, here, too. Sleep late in the morning, unless large demanding Maine coon cats begin their shouting for breakfast.
Stay in pj’s for as long as possible. Nap or walk or read in the afternoon after writing all morning, on a coffee (tea for me) buzz. One of the best things about being here is the way the farm exists outside of time. One of the other best things is showing up, late on the Friday night, and having Becky wave a hand toward the stairs and tell me that my room is ready. My room. As though I actually belong here. Which maybe I do. Maybe we all do.
FYI: this weekend’s menus will include bagels (of course), coq au vin, roast chicken, some sort of fish stew, homemade sausage, nachos, homemade bread, much cheese of various kinds, cookietizers, wine, the occasional martini, and for dessert on one of these days, chocolate Grand Marnier cheesecake. We believe in food here. We believe in cooking. And eating.