Over my birthday, my good friend Becca came for a few days to visit and help out on the farm. It's a tradition now, she usually makes it for my birthday week and we get through a to-do list of chores I need help with and she gets to slum it a little in Washington County.
I meant that in a charming way, not to disrespect my region. Cambridge is beautiful, a rolling series of hills surrounded by the green mountains of Vermont and the shadow of the Adirondacks. There's still horse traffic on the roads, Amish and Secular. It's charming as hell, but there's more still interest in deer season and dairy farms than boating regulations and Oceanview cafes. That's a broad brush to paint and there's all types of people everywhere, but you get what I'm saying, right? When you live and work on the Massachusetts coast a half hour from Cape Cod, coming to a 1860's farmhouse on a mountain without heat or AC is a different experience.
And few things really underline that more than when we were heading out for a drive down the mountain towards town. Everything was normal until my eyes started to scan the roadside. That's when I saw it, the sunlight just perfectly hit that golden orange among the dead leaves and scruff. I slammed on the breaks, threw the Subaru into park, and turned to look Becca right in the eyes.
"Do you have a knife?" I asked calmly, but sternly. She looked worried. She did not.
So I clicked on the Four Ways and left the car, and started scrambling up the side of the embankment, clinging to roots and branches. Becca yelled out after me, confused, "ARE YOU HIGH?!?"
I was not. I explained back with one word.
So many had started to appear after all this rain! I was plucking them like berries off the vine and Becca started to laugh in relief. I grabbed a few and put them inside the mesh net inside the car, excited as can be. Sometimes you gotta shake things up in the name of fungus. But I do recommend explaining yourself better that throwing your car into park and asking for a knife.
I ended up returning to that spot with a bag and collecting a bunch for my friends Mark and Patty, who are the people still teaching me so much about foraging, fishing, wildlife and farming. I feel like the first find should go to them, and also, as a safety measure because if they were false mushrooms, I would want his opinion. But I did know these were fine, being that I harvested from the same place two years ago. It still feels lucky, and wealth, to pull a little luxury out of the ground and generous to deliver it to a friend. I can see a mushroom and trout pan fried dinner in my future...
Besides that bit of color, the rest of the week has been rainy and drab. My hay delivery guy, Derek, explained how rough haying is this year. He had a great first cutting in May but all of June has been rain and all of our homes, land, and lawns looks like it. The ground is over saturated, the Battenkill is bound to flood. Storms in the forecast all day and I am scrambling to save what I can from the gardens between the over wet, ground hogs, and slugs. But I think this is the new normal, the perpetual rain or perpetual drought. Climate change has been shaking things up for years and every season they will get more drastic. I can only hope my region remains hearty and whole among it all, and grateful I'm not in a city, dessert, or coastal region. Not because I think those places are doomed, just going to become more expensive as they adapt. And because I like to hold onto the hope that these inland forest regions with four seasons will at least always be changing, and winter will take over the forest fires and flooding eventually.
I'm still working to pay the June mortgage, sales are slow and a lot of people email for information but never buy, and that's how it goes. I'll keep trying, and trying to figure out firewood and how to cover these car repairs and recent hay delivery ASAP so I can cover a house payment. It's never going to be easy, but I will say this.
I have lived on this farm for 13 years, and over ten of them as a self-employed creator of words and art on my own land. I feel like that in itself is an accomplishment, and now in my 40s I just want to feel safer, and repair this place that let me become the woman I am now. So there's work to be done, and hope to hold onto, and the story isn't over yet. I will find a way to reinforce this home and keep it standing. I will keep making my house payments. I will figure out another winter, even though this year I am more scared than I ever have been going into it alone. And I will be alone, because that's the reality of my life and choices.
But spring comes back, and once again I'll be praying for the Aprils I used to curse, and hoping that life changes for the better, and just as many good things can happen as scary things, and perhaps if I focus more on that, everything can become a little easier?
But I'm not giving up. I have more to write. I may get lucky, sell a book, share a story, find a lucky break? I keep going, like my fishing - you keep trying and eventually something has got to give, statistically speaking.
Sometime I think the world belongs to those who are willing to persevere. If that's the case, I will be okay.