Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Home again, home again...
Before I left New Hampshire, my mother brought me a glorious bunch of pink peonies from her newly-established garden. They were just starting to open on my last day and I hated to leave them (so I took a photo, of course).
Back Sunday to "my boys," visiting relatives, laundry, a weedy garden, a gooseberry bush that needs picking, a second cutting of hay in a glorious stretch of hot and dry weather ahead (finally!), growing chickens (even an errant rooster–hurray!), a pack of growing puppies and other pets, warm hot SUN! I'm loving every minute of being home just as I loved every minute and mile of my recent trek to New England and Ohio. I realized where home is now and that–as well as the reconnections with family and friends and beloved former homeplaces on my trip back to New England via Ohio–was well worth the price of admission.
On the way to New York (and eventually Ohio), I stopped to see my daughter again in Vermont. First I paid a pilgrimage to Walker Farm in Dummerston in hopes of getting a few six-packs of tall verbena (verbena bonariensis). They were out, alas, but I did get a six-pack of cleome, the most gorgeous quart of New England strawberries yet–for freeway snacking–and a bunch of flowers and a birthday cake for my daughter (as I never did make one!), some seeds for a fall garden here (it is now officially too hot for lettuces in Kentucky).
I didn't get to the New York Thruway until about 5pm as my daughter and I had a good few hour visit together. But that's OK, I still made it to Batavia by 9pm (between Rochester and Buffalo). The Thruway is a road I've traveled so many times I almost know what's around each bend in it–it has truly been the cord that bound us to New England from Ohio as a child and now as an adult in a new land. (It is also my preferable route to New England from Kentucky and is about the same as the mileage through West Virginia and Pennsylvania, etc.) It is an easily traversable highway and one I can just get on and GO. My drive to Ohio was an easy four hours the next morning.
Our former post-war home in West Akron from 1961-1974–still the same on the outside except my mother's wonderful gardening efforts are long gone, the fence in the back is no longer, but the Japanese maple out front is huge and as old as I am (a few years shy of 50).
In Akron I went to the annual meeting of Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, which was rather uneventful in light of recent events there this year, and did a book signing of The Pantry. Afterwards, I had a great catch-up dinner with a cousin who is lively, intelligent and as opinionated as I am so that was refreshing and fun. The next day I sauntered down to Ohio's Amish country in Holmes County and did a bit of antiquing (more in another blog soon). I also did a few requisite drive-bys my old home and visited the family plot at an Akron cemetery where my paternal grandparents, great-grandparents and father are buried.
Cathy DeLong and Andy January confer before their Saturday radio program.
Saturday, I had a radio interview on WAKR's "Your Beautiful Home" with Andy January and Catherine DeLong. I was there for the hour, along with some call-in interviews, and it was a lot of fun. We also gave away a signed copy of The Pantry to a nice woman named Janet in Fairlawn (thank you, Janet, if you are reading this). Andy is a co-owner of January Paint & Wallpaper in Akron and a long-time friend of our family. I always knew he'd find his niche as the Johnny Carson of the paint and wallpaper world. He is like Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey character in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life: he has stayed in Akron with his family business all of his life, weathering hard times on occasion. He also has a wry Midwestern humor, genuine likability and is a gifted story teller.
A quick stop at The Bookseller, Inc.–a used and rare bookstore in nearby Wallhaven that my cousin recommended–as well as West Point Market (where I only bought a July issue of Gourmet and two spring rolls–self-imposed restraint and frugality, after too many vacation book and antique purchases, as well as the logistics of cold transport back to Kentucky, kicked in big time so I just enjoyed browsing the aisles), and I was on my way (and oh, yes, a "stop" at the Medina Antique Mall right at I-71 which would bring me to Kentucky...but more on that later, too!).
I returned "happy to see the barn, happy to enter it..." ** [Carolyn Chute, The Beans of Egypt Maine] but also glad to have left my often self-imposed reclusion for a little while. It will be sustaining and has been reinvigorating, as well as a bit of pause, reflection and illumination. Just what a vacation should be.
**COMPLETE QUOTE from the novel: "'Well, I know a good barn when I see one,' he says and moves towards it. He moves like a workhorse, happy to see the barn, happy to enter it, the huge back and shoulders passing out of the white light of outdoors into the cavity of darkness, swinging his arms."