Wednesday, August 09, 2017

farmhouse vacation conclusion

I do not remember with any clarity the first three years of my life. I lived with my grandparents then, in a deeply rural Polish village (no electricity, no plumbing). Or maybe I do retain something, but it has all become jumbled with later memories? Most of my childhood and adolescent summers were spent in that village house and even though the house itself changed (my grandpa added rooms, electrification eventually took place, and with it, a pump could bring water into the house), there was a certain sameness to everything -- a sameness that I loved throughout my childhood and one that I can taste, smell and feel to this day. These sensual images may well have elements of my earliest years there.

When I was three, I moved back to Warsaw to live with my parents, but at the end of each school year, my sister and I were back in the village, all the way until September 1st. My grandmother had her hands full with us there. She planned and purchased (or grew) food for three solid meals each day, needing to stoke the fire in the stove each morning and foraging the farmsteads for foods to fill her basement and pantry. For many years there wasn't even a store in the vicinity (nor was there a paved road, to say nothing of transportation) and when something did eventually open, it offered little that you would want to cook for a family meal.

My grandma went to sleep by 8 and was up at 5. I had the room next to the kitchen and in the mornings I could hear her moving about. It was heavenly to stay in bed, watch the sunlight come in through the curtains, and hear the kitchen sounds of a new day in the making on the other side of the very narrow door.

I think about this on my last day (out of only five) of Snowdrop's farmhouse vacation. I think about how for her visit, I made lists of foods for her three meals each day and how one of them (Sunday lunch) was Amy's frozen mac and cheese which took all of four minutes to microwave. And still, I made those lists and worked in prep times when she napped or after she went to sleep. Between tending to the flowers and playing with the little one and keeping to a schedule of meals and farmhouse maintenance, I felt like my days were completely full.

At the end of each summer, my grandma grew sad. She always cried when we left: quiet tears, streaming down her old face. Many years passed before I understood how lonely it may have felt to shift from a crazy busy happy summer schedule to a quiet cold empty winter one. Oh, she would come into the city by train every now and then, bringing farm products and baked goods for us and eventually, when we acquired a car, we would go there for a day or two come weekends, but still, the switch from crazy busy to quiet and still on September 1st must have been pronounced.

It's evening now at the farmette and the farmhouse, like her village house, is remarkably quiet. I no longer plan meals or think about fitting in a shower at the community pool so that Snowdrop can have her daily "bath." (Today, she enjoyed her post-pool shower so much that she would not leave, standing under the pounding water and singing songs to herself...) Ed is out biking, I'm thinking back to what it was like to have Snowdrop dictate my day's activities from morning 'til night.

And how was this last day with the little girl? Well, lovely of course. The weather cooperated for us once more and we woke to a beautiful morning.

(Hey, you three -- I can focus on you once more, though honestly, you've become a handful! Scotch, quit hiding at night  somewhere outside the coop! It's not safe out there and we can't ever find you! Nor your eggs!)

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Here's a shot of the a teeny corner of the garden in the morning light -- not cleaned up yet, but so pretty nonetheless!

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Again Ed is still sleeping as I wake Snowdrop at 8. She and I eat breakfast together. It's my breakfast no. 1.

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Into the car, past fields of cranes. We pause to admire them, talk to them, take in their beauty...

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And now she is at school (it's funny to see her on the arrival, as I've taken so many pics of her on the return)...

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And then I hurry home to work in the garden... Fewer than 300 spent blooms today!

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Phew! Bugs waved away, I'm safely inside the porch now, getting ready for breakfast no. 2, with Ed. He's not in the photo because he can't match (or even come close to) Snowdrop's winning smile!

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And from here, I drive to meet my friend who is in town right now. She, like Snowdrop, always has a beautiful smile to offer...

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And from there, I hurry to pick up Snowdrop.

On our walk, I talk to her about the next four days. They will have everything grand and everything strange in them: the return of her mommy and daddy (grand!), her last night in her old home, the move of her three cats to the sheep shed for a while until the move is over and done with, the return of the whole family to overnight here, and then a move into their new home, with a visit of aunt and uncle thrown in. I list it all. I think she got it! Or, part of it. Maybe most of it. We've been reading the moving books (recommended by you, commenters!) pretty regularly.

I ask how she wants to play this afternoon.


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Then pool. I come prepared!

Well, maybe not so much. I have with me the towel, my own bathing suit bottoms, the sun screen, the shampoo... I forgot her swimsuit.

I explain the predicament: Gaga forgot... do you want to swim in your panties? 

I find it interesting that there isn't a single other wee kid in the pool (among hundreds!) in just panties. I don't think I myself owned a swimsuit until I was six or seven.

It's a beautiful day to be in the pool!

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A few minutes of play before nap...

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Rest time, then a forced wake up because parents are almost here!

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(Watching out for mommy...)

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Reverting to her favorite excitement containment strategy: wheeling baby around in a stroller.

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And now the girl has left, the cats have arrived, Ed is biking, the house is quiet. I'm inbetween crazy busy days. Still, there is this evening: quiet and reflective.

It's good to pause and think every now and then. Tonight I'm lost in thought.