Saturday, November 02, 2019

farmette life 4

A life on the ocean wave,
A home on the rolling deep,
Where the scattered waters rave,
And the winds their revels keep!
Like an eagle caged, I pine
On this dull, unchanging shore:
Oh, give me the flashing brine,
The spray and the tempest roar!
The land is no longer in view,
The clouds have begun to frown;
But with a stout vessel and crew,
We'll say, Let the storm come down!
And the song of our hearts shall be,
While the winds and the waters rave,
A home on the rolling sea!
A life on the ocean wave!

(Epes Sargent)

Did you know that some sailors enjoy riding a storm out at sea? Oh, they'll want to avoid the killer hurricane, but a good storm is intoxicating! Epes Sargent, the 19th century poet (and son of a ship master) certainly thought so. And so does Ed.

If you're sailing from Virginia to Puerto Rico, your course is going to take you as far east as Bermuda. You'll then swing south, catching a favorable wind that'll (eventually) put you on the island. I asked -- what if there isn't a favorable wind? The answer is tricky: there's enough fuel on the boat to give you a motor assist for up to about two days. That's not enough to bring you to any shore if you're out on the Atlantic. So you have to wait out there on the open ocean waters.

I can understand the love of a good wind, but I cannot understand the love of a good storm. Perhaps it's an old man's marlin -- the fish that so challenged (and tortured) the fisherman in Hemingway's novel. For most of us, putting yourself to that kind of a test becomes less important as we grow older. For Ed, age is irrelevant.

He tells me that there is a brief window of a good wind this weekend. They'll sail out this afternoon.

My morning on the farmette is far more predictable. Cats, chickens, plants. They all get my attention today.

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The day is cool -- maybe ten or even twenty degrees below normal. I have to ignore the cold and move ahead with farmette clean up. Texturing the flower fields for winter will really shape the visuals for me for the next five months. I spend a good amount of time snipping.

And only then do I sit down to breakfast.

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Unfortunately, afterwards, I lose interest in working outside. It's just too cold. Gardening gloves did not protect my hands from the chill. Without sunshine, the work seems dreary rather than meditative. I stay within the warmth of the farmhouse and think hygge thoughts.

And I turn to another project. I had this idea that while Ed was away, I'd work on eliminating more than 20% of things in the farmhouse. It's a noble goal. Imagine the purity of life in a simple (even sterile) environment! But it's tough going. I have moved three times in the last fourteen years and each time I purged possessions. Snowdrop has more books here than I do now. My closet holds two seasons' (cold and hot) worth of essentials. Were I moving to a nursing home, I'd ditch the kitchen stuff, but so far, I'm still cooking and often for a large-ish crowd.

I fill a bag of stuff that is only marginally useful and let it go at that, calculating that in the past week, I may well have handed over 1% of stuff to Goodwill. Perhaps tomorrow I'll chase down the remaining 19.

This is when I realize I need some people noise in my day. I'm fine with being alone, but a whole day of quiet is a bit much. Cats and chickens don't count.

I get in the car and head to Finca, where the crowds are lively and the snack is tasty.

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Earlier, I read an article suggesting that we all need to find time to be alone with our thoughts. I had to smile at that. Most retired people have plenty of time to be alone with their thoughts. But I find that solitude has a different effect on different people. Ed is sailing with four other guys, but he would be equally happy sailing alone and indeed, his longest boat trip was solo. Me, I belong to that subset that needs a balance of quiet and noise. A few hours of work in the garden may be lovely, but after a while, I'll come in and bother Ed. I know many of you are like that: it seems oxymoronic, but we need stimuli to stay calm. Hearing people helps us think clearly.

And now comes evening.

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Animal care first. Dance, who oddly has been hanging out in the garage all evening, follows me to the shed. Other cats join us in this parade at dusk. Hold on, kitties. Cheepers first. Into  the coop you go! Okay, cats, now it's your turn!

The six teenagers and Dance are hungry. They're also a little antsy. I'm thinking -- maybe I should hang out with them more. And then, in glancing around the sheep shed to see if everything is in order or if they've dislodged one thing or another, I see her. Yo-Yo, on the floor, utterly still.

I'm stunned. Yes, she's been gone nearly a week, but one always has the hope that a missing cat will come back. They get lost, they find their way again.

She found her way alright. Clearly sick, maybe from the cold, the snow, the lack of food, she came home to die. Still warm, but lifeless.

Oh, Ed, where are you?! Out at sea, where I can't even call you to let you know, so that we can share in the sadness of this moment! You played with her endlessly!

Well, I have to attend to it. The cats watch me as I transport Yo-Yo in a container outside. Dance, the most perfect cat mom I know paces inside the shed.

Yo-Yo gets a proper burial. Next to her brother, Little Gray. There is Moonlight Serenade. There are flowers, indoor flowers, because nothing is blooming outside anymore.

I'm so so sorry, little one.

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Still later: I cook chicken rice soup (gratis Bon Appetit). I must have food for the week. No more frozen cardboard pizzas. I think about Ed, out on the ocean. He has waited a long time to return to that "flashing brine!" Still, may the ocean stay calm for him. Let the intoxication come from a perfect, starlit sky and a moon throwing beams down to guide the boat at night.