Thursday, September 21, 2017

what do you like to do in your free time?

I've posed a question which I think is silly. It makes no sense to me at all. At best -- I do not understand it.

Here's a shot at a better one: what goals do you like to set for yourself, had you the time to work toward them?

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All this talk of what tickles your fancy came about as a result of a walk I took this morning. Alone, because Ed had a really tough time waking up. So breakfast was late...

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And the threat of a hot day meant that I did not want to wait for him to feel up to a brisk saunter around the rural roads. So I set out on my own.

When imagination fails me and I do not want to get in the car to go somewhere to walk, I usually take the scenic rural road to the east of us. It has little traffic, lovely views, some of them onto a terrific prairie...

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... and the whole round trip takes about 45 minutes. Perfect.

(The farmers' fields just to the east of the farmette...)

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But as I pass a property we'd been watching for a while now, I halt in my tracks. To gawk. I'd never seen anything quite like it in Wisconsin -- certainly not in the greater Madison area.

The place is owned by one of the top real estate developers in town and it is huge. Looking later at the maps with Ed, we note that the guy (and his wife) owns acres and acres of forest, prairie, wetlands, pasture. Oh, but this was obvious even without looking at the maps. Walking along the road, I see that the land here has been transformed! The forest bed has been cleared of all honeysuckle and other noxious invasives that choke so much of native growth. The wetlands have been "trimmed." A prairie will surely extend over some of the flatlands (burned turf tells me that this is the plan).

The developer built a spectacularly modern house and then added other structures. A recreational building (that's my guess). Barns, out buildings -- all beautifully restored. There are paddocks for grazing donkeys. I mean, who has donkeys these days anyway? Must be the family's Greek (I'm guessing) heritage at work. The whole place is so vast and so carefully tended that it reminds me of estates out in the east coast where money flows like honey in a bee hive.

I want to believe that he is doing it with the environment at the forefront of his considerations. And I think this is so. But what really sticks in my mind is that in eliminating or reducing some growth, he is encouraging other growth. The land is tended, so that things may grow. I surely believe in that!

Which brings me around to the farmette land. Remember how I resisted moving here? It would swallow my time!  -- I used to protest. There are three acres here and every inch requires care. So much to do! And so I did not move here and for years Ed commuted daily to the city (where I lived) and I stuck by my words: the farmette would need an overhaul and I haven't the time for it.

Yet here I am. Something caused me to change my mind and it would take a whole 'nother post to answer the questions of what and why.

Oftentimes (most times?) I think I am not keeping up with the demands of the place. Flower beds -- yes, I work hard on these, but so long as all farmette trees are allowed free reign (even those that should never have entered into the picture), I will be waging a losing battle, as sunlight is choked out and beautiful birches, maples and spruces are pushed back by boxelders, lotus and black walnut. But not honeysuckle: gives us some credit, we pretty much stay on top of eradicating the honeysuckle.

So let me return to the question of what makes you happy and how you fashion yourself spending free time. Today, when I returned home after my walk, I was, of course, motivated to clear some of the crazy growth that I believe is coming at us from all sides. Ed was busy with his engineering projects and so I worked alone. When I took a break, I commented that I was now fighting back the marching troops of vines, trees, shrubs and weeds on my own and that it was a shame that he did not have a passion for tending this land.
Ed looks up, surprised:  but you like gardening. It makes you happy.

I thought long and hard about this as I pulled out lotus seedlings and creeping charlie tendrils. Do I like this? If I had all the time in the world, would I choose to do this? The answer to the first is -- eh, in optimal conditions, maybe, to a degree. But the answer to the second question is yes. I would choose to do this. If I had all the time in the world, I would be out there toiling.  Because the goal of doing right by this beautiful land is a noble goal. Setting a goal and working towards it makes me happy.

As for Snowdrop today -- well, the recurrent concern is that she is not napping in school. You may tell me that perhaps she does not need her nap anymore. You would be wrong. My daughters could get by with very little sleep when they were little. Snowdrop cannot.

Still, the girl will rally when life offers her exciting play possibilities. And so this afternoon, she rallies.

(She watched other kids on past days climb up on top of this and so she wanted to do it too...)

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(Out of the stroller, leading the way to "music class..." -- a favorite pretend game of hers.)

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I tell her we need to stop by the Thursday night Fitchburg farmers market on the way back to the farmhouse. She is tired. I want to go straight to the farmhouse...  But I need the tomatoes.

Ed meets us at the market and there happens to be a horse-drawn wagon there and she is reluctant at first, but Ed nudges her to try it (I go along for the ride, Ed takes the photo)...

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... and she is thrilled. She wants to do it again, with him. Okay, just once, but really -- we need to pick out some ten pounds of tomatoes...

When it's time to get the tomatoes, I place her right inside the truck and she is thrilled! Just thrilled! She laughs and works and works and laughs and I can tell that this act of being up in the truck, loading a bag of tomatoes, is making her really happy.

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When the bag is filled, she runs over to get cheese curds...

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And this is cool too, but she really wants to go on that horse and wagon again, this time with Ed...

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(She pats the horse's mane, tentatively...)

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And then she asks to go again and what, are you going to say, no? Is there any reason to say no?
You have to wait a while, Snowdrop... 
Okay, I will wait...

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And there are musicians at the market and they fire up the accordion and the little one just cannot resist this moment of dance!

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But I'm sure as anything that this evening, at home, she will crash. She is one overtired little cookie. Oh! Here's a text from her mom telling me that this is exactly right!

We trade off good times and tired times, her parents and I. Today, I hit the jackpot.