Saturday, September 21, 2002

Welcome Fall 2002

We made a genuine salute to Fall, and a farewell to Summer. The boys and I found carrot, spinach, pea and lettuce sprouts in the barrels we planted. We watered the baby veggies carefully, checked on the chickens, fed the two rabbits, and then we sat in the dirt and stared beyond the apple tree, down in to the pasture.

Alex asked whether I could imagine it full of fruit trees, "Because, I sure can," he said contentedly. I am sure he can too. Just the other day he harvested the fruit from his two strawberry guava shrubs. He brought in two large bowls full of ripe fruit. He and Max ate about 1/3 of them, then we threw the rest in the juicer with apples and pears. The juice was very good.

And tonight, as we envisioned more trees, we sampled apples from the tree we planted on the pasture fence. They were small, but ripe. They were hard, crisp and sweet-tart. And then we remembered that today is the last day of Summer. We toasted the passing season with our harvest, and saluted Fall with big crunchy bites of our apples.

Fall won't make many striking poses in our part of the world. We occasionally find a street lined with sweet gum trees, changing colors and losing leaves. The days don't seem quite as long, but, for now, they are as hot as ever. We delight in the pumpkins at the supermarket, the prospect of apple picking in our local mountains. And of course there is the torturous bliss of planning and anticipating holidays and merriment. How many days 'til Halloween, and how many days 'til Thanksgiving and how many days 'til Christmas? I look forward to the first night cold enough for foggy breath and a fire in the fireplace. I look forward to baking something a little sweet and nostalgic, sweaters and mittens, and an autumn wreath by the front door. We will walk in the early morning fog, the black, black crows sitting on the white pasture fence, and we'll love that it is Fall.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Geoff Feels A Road Trip Coming On...

Geoff officially needs a vacation. While the rest of us, here at the Ranch, are relishing the subtle changes in season, the quiet after a Summer of construction, and the predictable routine of school and classes, Geoff is master minding an escape. He is contemplating ' in Europe, Hawaii, no, Wisconsin.' He is envisioning us, the Bohemian Ranchers, out on the open road and seeing this entire country in 4 weeks. We could be in New York, D.C. the South, the Midwest, driving and resting and bonding. He has been working on the same project for 2 years. He has barely had a full weekend, let alone a real rest. And now he is determined to have fun and travel and relax and follow his impulses, no matter what.

"One day in New York," Alex says, must include a stop at "the world's biggest toy store. It even has a ferris wheel! And what about the Chicas, can they come too?" The chickens, we insist, will have to stay home.

"What about Halloween? Where will we be for Halloween?" William's eyes are already tear swollen as he stares at me incredulously. "No trip unless we are home by Halloween, or in Cambridge!"

Max can't let go of the chicken issue. He details for us little stories of chickens in the RV, and chickens when they walk in snow and how chickens will react to cold weather. Everyone has something to say, but Max is in full filibuster mode and we have to wait him out. "And when Sunshine walks in the snow, he'll say 'Bok, bok, boka-brrrrrr!'" We all take turns impersonating chickens up to their knees in snow.

Geoff throws in a few more points, "We can't leave until sometime in October, but we have to be in a mild climate before bad weather settles in. I've made up my mind we are going to New York and Washington, and we should visit Wisconsin too. Where does my aunt Jane live? We should visit there too."

"We are in Oregon in November, remember?" This has been a definite plan for a couple of months. We will take a relaxing drive, over the river etc to Grandmother's house. I wait for him to realize that one major, Autumnal road trip could be more than enough.

"No problem. We'll be back in time to make a separate trip." Geoff still travels on the notion he can be any where in the county in 15 minutes.

Two emails came yesterday. Holly is asking about 'Geoff's trip to Hawaii in October,' and my father-in-law wonders 'if we could include him, Lily and Rosa in the RV, on our leg out east?'

I'm too dizzy to think of thoughtful replies, or even educated ones. I didn't know about Geoff going to Hawaii next month. Geoff asked me to draw up some alternative itineraries for our 'whole country venture.' I can't quite pin down all of the contingencies. My driving distances and departure dates look more like a flow chart for urban evacuation, than a vacation planner. I'm no party pooper. Travel, family, adventure, spontaneity, it's all good stuff, but I am seriously considering giving Geoff a tranquilizer and waking him up a week later.

"Wasn't that a great trip, honey? Don't you feel rested?"

Someone, anonymous, (initials HJVV) suggested I tell him he should 'take the trip with his sons and father, littlest sister and cousin.' They could bond, and I could stay home and pay bills, clean the pantry, watch chick flicks. Geoff made a sorry face and grinned hopefully, "You wouldn't want to stay behind. You'd miss us. Wouldn't you?"

"How could I miss you?" I tease, "You'd get as far as Barstow, and I would see you in the driveway again in a few hours. I'd barely have time to get a decent facial, drink a glass of wine."

Another optimistic suggestion arrived this morning. My friend, code name 'Banana,' says I should be approaching the issue using programming and gaming strategies. So, we need to do a Beta Run: An initial road trip with simulated sick, or cranky children, driving in traffic, with maybe one stowaway chicken. Then Geoff could apply the results and expand the data to a projected trip of 672 hours in, possibly, bad weather. This is more effective in dissuading me, but my husband is motivated by challenges, adversity, dares, 'impossible programming bugs.' He'd find the solution, fix the errors, cure the children and clear the traffic. Foiled again.

Thank God I love this man. My pledge to him has always been, "I'll follow you any where." Looks like I may be in for an interesting ride.