Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ta-Ta For Now

I guess I'll never be one of those heroic bloggers who manage to post every day no matter what is going on in their lives.

What is going on in my life right now is our impending move to a cottage at Wake Robin, a retirement community just south of Burlington, a stone's throw from Lake Champlain.

When I first envisaged this move, I thought I could keep up posting at least once a week, but I'm not  managing even that.  And it's not as if I don't have plenty to write about.  In fact, it's probably  the overabundance of topics that, as much as the sorting and packing, has kept me from posting.

Nothing prompts intensive soul searching like having to hold in your hands and make a decision about every single object in your house.  Some day I may write about all that has been going through my mind this winter and spring.  Paradoxically, this shedding of an old life and jumping into a new one requires the recklessness and optimism of youth, not to mention its energy.
But at present all I can think about is trolling liquor stores for empty cardboard boxes, keeping an eye on my dwindling stock of packing tape, and getting rid of the horrible odor that remains on my hands after a day wearing disposable gloves (I can't decide which I can tolerate better, to have my hands grimy with newsprint or smelling of rubber.)

So for now I'll go away from these pages, to return sometime in June when we're settled in our tiny abode in the northern reaches of my green Vermont.  I'm sure I'll have a couple of stories to tell.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Warbler and the Septic Tank Guy

As a grace note for our potential house buyers, yesterday we had the septic tank drained.  The septic tank guy was dragging the heavy hose across our lawn, when he stopped by the front door, the one we hardly ever use.  "There's a bird nesting in that wreath," he said.  "Probably a warbler..."

I take a minimalist approach to Christmas decorations, but last winter I did buy a plain evergreen wreath for the front door.  A few days ago, I was walking up the driveway, scanning the house for defects, when I saw that the evergreen wreath had turned brown, and was sure to depress and deter anybody who came to see the house.  I decided to remove the wreath right away, and throw it into the dumpster (there is now a glorious rusty-green dumpster parked by the garage), but by the time I reached the house a million other urgencies--call the septic tank guy, the floor guy, the auction guy--had erased the wreath from my mind.

And that's a good thing, because in my abstracted mood I would have flung the wreath into the dumpster without noticing the tiny brown nest sitting amid the brown leaves.  But thanks to our alert  septic tank man, the future of the three diminutive pale-blue eggs is now assured.

I am willing to accept the septic tank man's tentative identification of the bird as a warbler.  (How many septic tank guys on the planet even know what a warbler is?  But in Vermont, he's probably not the only one.)  I've tried to get a look at the parent bird, but every time I come within ten yards of the nest he or she flies out with a loud grouse-like flutter.

Where security is concerned, this bird is a lot more uptight than the bluebird nesting in the back of the house, who hardly bothers to leave his perch when we walk out into the patio.  One thing he does leave, unfortunately, is great Pollock-like streaks of white poop on the newly painted barn-red wall.

So now we have a dismal brown wreath on the front door which cannot be touched until those eggs hatch and the (probable) warbler babies fledge.  And on the back wall we have bluebird poop which will continue to accumulate until the early- and late-season sets of bluebird nestlings take off.

If these birds don't leave us alone, this house will never sell.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Nightmare Driveway

Our house is on the market now, and yesterday I was looking at the listing sheet from when we bought it almost ten years ago.  We must have had pretty good x-ray vision, to see past the oppressive 1980s wallpaper to the plain straightforward bones of the house.  And there was no need for x-ray vision on the view, which was, and has remained, lovely.

On the old listing sheet my husband and I had made short-hand notes to help us remember the house when we were back in Maryland deciding which place to buy.   A scribble in my handwriting reads, "close to farm with Belgian draft horses!!!"  below which my husband added, "long, nightmare gravel driveway."

That driveway gave us much pause.  We had heard stories about mythic Vermont winters, and we imagined ourselves marooned for months on top of our hill, barred from all contact with civilization by our nightmare driveway.

In the end, the view and the Belgians won the day, and we bought the house. 

The view never lost its appeal.  Even now, as I write surrounded by packing boxes, the view out of our tall windows makes me wonder what I ever did to deserve it.

On the other hand, the Belgians--a stallion, a mare and a gelding--remained something I have driven past year after year, admiring their creamy manes and their gold-brown coats, and their habit in bug season of standing nose-to-tail and acting as reciprocal fly swatters.  But I never met the horses personally, never asked their owner's permission to stand by the fence and draw those big heads, dinner-plate hooves, arched necks, curvy rumps.  I never even met the owners.

Surprisingly, the nightmare driveway turned out to be a breeze.  We had the bottom bit  regraded to avoid slithering out in icy weather, and after that, thanks to our conscientious "driveway guy," neither in the depths of winter nor in the worst of mud season were we prevented access to civilization.

The problem turned out to be the absence of civilization, which, ironically, is what I had craved when I decided to move here.  Reluctantly, I have come to admit during the last lonely decade on this hilltop that human contact is as important to me as sunsets and sunrises and birdsong and silent, snow-covered woods.

In our next move, I'm planning to remedy this issue.  In a place that offers over forty-five interest groups, from bee-keeping and maple sugaring to fiber arts--not to mention nearby Burlington and the University of Vermont--there is bound to be a tribe that will welcome me.

But I'm not counting on anything.  A nightmare of one kind or another is sure to appear.  It won't be the driveway this time, because it is short and will be maintained by the community, and it probably won't be lack of human contact.   But no matter how hard I try to anticipate every possible eventuality, something will pop up that I didn't expect. 

Maybe, instead of spending my energies planning and preparing, I would do better to practice breathing deeply, staying flexible, and giving up the comical illusion that I'm in control.