March 25, 2014 § 4 Comments
We were wide eyed and speechless for the first 10 miles of the day. I could not remember a drive like this in our 18 years in New Hampshire. Here we were, on March 25, deep in the mountains of western Virginia, on a steep, narrow and completely unplowed road with hairpin turns, the only way out toward North Carolina. Having no idea of how long this road would last, all I knew was that the minutes were stretching and the silence weighed ominously.
Five hours later, as we crossed the state line into North Carolina, it stopped snowing and the first trees we saw had just begun a pale pink bloom. As in The Wizard of Oz, the movie, the landscape instantaneously turned from black and white into color.
Our long day ended with another unbelievable, a dinner at Herons in Cary, North Carolina,
with a glass of great wine.
Finally the last (and best) unbelievable: The words from my husband as he looked at the forecast on his phone before we went to sleep: “Wow! In 48 hours it will be 73 degrees…”
October 15, 2013 § 2 Comments
If you want to have breakfast on the road after you leave Lubbock on your way to Amarillo be prepared to drive about 50 miles before you find a place that will serve anything to eat. Mile after mile we saw nothing but flat land, a couple of small towns, cotton gin plants, farm equipment and truck parts garages, grain mills and their railroad, abandoned homes and gas stations. Hungry and with our eyes fixed towards the roadsides or the seemingly never ending road straight ahead on the horizon, we sat silently, feeling like total strangers in this bleak end of the world. A place where no one goes anywhere or lives for much.
Finally, in the town of Plainview, past New Deal, we saw a couple of fast food signs and stopped at an IHOP. It was chilly, 48 degrees, with a biting wind and still overcast, but warm inside, serving a hot breakfast.
An hour or so later the sun came out on the plains. Looking forward to a walk in the fresh air, we went to Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Amarillo.
And tonight we stay at The Big Texan Motel in Amarillo, our last night before Santa Fe and our new home …
A colorful Texas motel,
complete with a horse hotel,
And to top it all off a glorious evening sky…
October 14, 2013 § 2 Comments
Back on the road today, we drove from Austin to Abilene to Lubbock in the Texas Panhandle. At last, away from the Interstate, the road was quiet and the landscape peaceful. The sky was overcast with heavy rain or drizzle so we got to see Texas in unusual weather.
Peabody’s restaurant in Goldthwaite was a bet but it turned out to be a great find. The place looked like a modern concrete and steel barn, industrial decor at its most authentic, where farmers on lunch break where catching up on the topic of the week: the rain!
We could have been in 1970, 80, 90, 2000 or now, no way to tell for sure. Best choice on the menu: a juicy, fluffy slice of meatloaf made by the wife of the restaurant’s buffet server, with ‘tatoes and white gravy, corn bread and glazed carrots…. and mmm, it was good!
Later, back in the car, my husband woke me up around Roscoe to see that we were driving through what turned out to be one of the largest wind farm in the world. We would have never thought that in the Oil State alternative energy projects were also Texas size!
The landscape changed as we neared Lubbock. Oil wells with their dutiful jack pumps bowing regularly appeared all around us in the middle of backyards, cotton fields, parking lots and abandoned plots.
And in Lubbock, after a steak dinner and
as there was not much else to do, we finally checked in for the day,
but not before taking one or two last pictures, in Red, White and Blue!
October 11, 2013 § 1 Comment
We left Louisville, Kentucky this morning and arrived in Little Rock, Arkansas this evening. Another long day on the road.
Highway landscape doesn’t vary much in general and if one doesn’t look closely many states can look the same mile after mile. However, after a while small differences and repetitions start to stand out.
Today we crossed 3 states, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas, all part of “the Bible Belt”, and the consistently recurring sights were: Billboards with stark religious messages, gun shops, adult megastores and firework convenience stores/gas stations. I kept wondering if these were for the Bible Belt population or for people like us, Northerners, looking for “attractions” unseen in our part of the country…
In between trucks, I got a glimpse of the countryside as we were going through more rural areas. All the trees were still green, the grass wasn’t blue and I saw cotton fields for the first time. This landscape, at times desolate with signs of poverty and isolation, somehow felt less hostile than the Ohio and Pennsylvania steel and concrete sprawl.
And so far nowhere on this trip did anything look like a postcard.
Oh! And I forgot, we went by a town called Bucksnort, in Tennessee, on the way to Memphis…
January 20, 2013 § 1 Comment
About two and a half years ago I decided to go for a walk. On a beautiful late-summer morning I walked for about three miles, a loop that went from my house through various neighborhoods in my town and along a golf course and playing fields. I was alone and it was early morning, so peaceful and quiet. I loved it so much that I decided to do the same walk the next day, again two days later and eventually up to 6 days a week, rain, shine or freezing cold. Always the same loop, rarely the same hour of the day but most often alone.
It has not been boring even once. I think, look, hear, breathe. I give myself time to do these basic activities, which I would forget to do when caught up in the fast flow of a normal busy life.
Along that same path, I have noticed the change of season, not with my calendar or the school schedule, but with the birds’ and insects’ behavior, the plants and wildlife of the pond by the road, and of course the same flowers, bushes and trees I see day after day.
I have often lost sense of time, deep in my thoughts, either surprised to be back at my house so soon or to have felt out of touch for so long.
I have processed major events and minor annoyances. I have cried without control about my father dying, I have subdued my worries, detangled or loosened complicated knots in the fabric of my family’s dynamics, and breathed through impatience and frustration.
I have paused and smiled at a beautiful sky, shivered with joy under a brief dowpour in July, wondered about a bird’s call, felt drunk with deep breaths of crystalline arctic air and marveled over the beauty of an old elm, leafless against a white sky.
I have dreamed about traveling, starting a new life after my youngest child leaves the house, or what it will be like to be a grandmother one day. I have fantasized about my kids’ exploits, future successes, amazing feats, even my daughters’ wedding dresses — because I could do so in private with boundless imagination and unlimited possibilities.
I have daydreamed.
I have discovered that, for a moment, I can step out of a life where my senses get so overstimulated they become numb, where my soul is fed only by shallow sensations, into one that fulfills my needs for meaning, wonder, truth, creativity and grace.
At first I thought it was a luxury to have time for a walk. Then I discovered it’s a necessity to make time for this walk.
June 19, 2012 § 1 Comment
When my children were little the hardest thing for me was to get up early in the morning. I remember telling them to ” go play” until I was ready, I mean forced by their numerous un-welcomed interruptions, to finally emerge from my torpor.
As the kids were growing and some parental obligations (like taking the kids to school, which I often did in my PJs) involved using an alarm clock, I managed to perform the minimum necessary to be somewhat alert and punctual for the early morning duties.
I guess it was part of growing up (for me).
Still, I never gave up on sleeping in when possible.
Then, 3 springs ago, my youngest son decided to join his high school rowing team.
I had to face the inevitable: someone would have to drive him to a landing on the Connecticut River, five days a week for 10 weeks, on time for the 5am practice.
So, always hopeful to gain some credit as a good mother, I boldly announced that I was willing to get up at 4:20am and tackle the job.
One of the best decision I have made in 30 years…
The season starts in late March when the river has not completely thawed, the predawn temperature is hovering just above 32 degrees and sunrise happen well after the boats are launched and the rowers are hard at work, puffing like steam engines, their fingers numb with frost, their hands burning with blisters.
With their sleepy eyes and not quite out of their night dreams, they watch the moon bowing out for a slow rising pale winter sun, shrouded in pink and casting a silver light over the black waters. A thick white fog floats in slow motion over the surface eventually lifting up in thinning swirling steam.
I saw this.
One early April morning this year, I decided to go along with the coach on the motor boat to witness this absolutely magical, numinous moment.
And I thought: “This is why I have children”.
Filmed with my iphone. Music by Penguin Cafe: “This or That”
April 22, 2012 § 3 Comments
Looking is one of my favorite things to do and New York City never disappoints me in that regard. I have a visual feast pretty much every time I walk around the City.
This one happened last week in Chelsea over less than an hour and a two block area.
The following pictures were taken with my iphone.
September 19, 2011 § Leave a comment
When I was very little I would pick, or more likely uproot, for their stem is very hard to break with small hands, just two or three by the side of the road and holding the unruly and wiry stems would bring this quirky bouquet to my favorite person. The emphatic reception adults reserve for children’s gifts would always fail to hide, among the compliments, a hint of disregard for this nothing flower. I could not understand why but never asked.
Growing on the neglected side of gardens and fields, among thistle and nettle, in the tousled grass, with delicate and modest grace, never one like the other and always uniquely beautiful, the shy plants would stop me in my tracks and I would stare at their infinite variations.
I did not know the meaning of “weed” then. Wild carrot was a name for a useless vegetable and much too mean for such a damsel blossom. I thought the flower had been forgotten as such.
Much later, after having lived in a city for many years and then moved to rural New England, I found it again. It was like running into an old friend. One that never called but had always been there.
How delighted was I to find that it finally had a proper name , Queen Ann”s Lace. Indeed modest and delicate but perfectly noble and regal too. I wanted to plant it in my garden, along with foxgloves, peonies, poppies, delphiniums and lilies. But no garden store would sell such a seed: I was “an invasive species”. I was disappointed and angry. It seemed once again that its beauty was ignored.