Hudson Valley apples

One of many jewels found in Warwick Valley is apples. The gem comes in assorted colors and varieties. And because 2019 is a bumper crop year, we can enjoy and invite others to enjoy apples. A local farmer recently told me, “Apple picking will go into November.”

While living in southeastern Washington state, my husband and I grew Granny Smith and Gala apples. Tart to sweet. Couldn’t be beat. Just ask the horses that lived with us on the orchard.

We brushed, saddled, and mounted our horses for afternoon walks that took us through the orchard and up into the Horse Heaven Hills. I know, it all sounds like I’m making this up, but I’m not.

If you have a minute, search online Wikipedia, Horse Heaven Hills. Skip the site linked to American Viticultural Area, unless you’re interested in todays booming wine grape business in the northwest.

But Horse Heaven Hills stretches through three counties in Washington (we lived in Benton county). The hill range is a ridge that folded upward a gazillion years ago (give or take a few years).

Notice on Wikipedia, the photo mentioning Wallula Gap? Those Horse Heaven Hills is the view from the cemetery where we buried my mother and father-in law. We also had an orchard in Wallula.

The history of Horse Heaven Hills has it that early pioneer, James Gordon Kinney was romping around the hills in 1881, and while admiring the native grass that fed large herds of feral horses, he said, “This is surely a horse heaven.”

But that version of history daggers me. Like Columbus Day.

Columbus Day commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492, however, up against the facts, conscience calls out the blindness associated with this holiday. Blind to the poor behavior toward humanity on the part of Columbus and the fact that native Americans were settled here long before the Italian-born explorer plodded the ground.

I’d like to know what the native Americans called the hills, that I call Horse Heaven Hills. For centuries, probably millenniums, before others came from afar, native Americans used the land as hunting ground and boundaries between tribes. Maybe they called the hills Pantry.

“Your shelf in the pantry is looking pretty good.”

“Ah, yes, but if need be, I’ll rustle up some of the food for your shelf.”

Either way, I understand why some cities and states in the United States replace Columbus Day with alternative days of remembrance, such as, Indigenous Peoples Day.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Proverbs 25:11.

So back to our valley rich in apples. Eat up. Tell your friends from the City, or wherever, to bring their families, buy a bag and pick apples for eating fresh or using in applesauce, crisps, cakes, pies. Heck, it’s worth the bucks to just enjoy visiting an orchard, walking outdoors through rows of trees, reaching out to nab and munch on a natural delicious snack. Right there on the spot. That’s what our horses did.

Advertisements

The friend of contentment

Last month, I ventured a business in Florida, New York, that provides ample opportunities to cross paths with individuals I wouldn’t otherwise meet. The crossings last about ten minutes or thirty and usually spark conversations.

It reminds me of family reunions, when finally meeting spouses or children of distant, but known, relatives. Conversations begin with a mission to acknowledge parallels and oftentimes, similarities click, and fun ensues.

At the business, I cross paths with people on a quest to find a specific item. As if we’re on a treasure hunt together. We start yakking it up and before we know it, we’re practicing friendliness.

When it comes time to parting ways, I blurt, “Come back again and bring you friends.”

Naturally, many reply “I will.” But a few reply “I don’t have any friends.”

The statement, I don’t have any friends, may sound funny,  but I don’t laugh. I don’t doubt them. I don’t call them back to probe their psyche. I don’t argue with them.

I nod at the revealing implication. It carries a tone of contentment, as if contentment is their friend.

To have the friend of contentment with one’s self and purpose at hand, goes against today’s definition of friend as broadcast by social media, which imposes the burden of numbering or trying to keep others happy.

Whereas, friends of contentment appear content with working and discovering, rather than with numbers or persons. This appearance begs the question, how do contentment and being solo connect?

Now, I’m not an etymologist but I feel as though the word solo is related to the word solitude. And when I think of solitude, I think of loneliness, however the statement, “I don’t have any friends,” can rebuke the lonely image of solitude.

I can feel lonely in a jam-packed audience of Elton John or at a family reunion where I feel misunderstood.

So, at and after these crossings, I continue mulling the statement, “I don’t have any friends,” as a sign, pointing to the friend of contentment with good-old fashion work and discovery. Whether I’m solo or surrounded by people.

 

Cheater of exercise, confesses

I have a confession. I did not watch television for more than thirty years. That’s not the confession, but the prelude into the confession. I now watch television and am addicted to the show, The Good Witch, starring Catherine Bell.

When unplugging the television decades ago, I knew I wasn’t missing out on anything important in life. It was fine that I couldn’t answer television clues in crossword puzzles. We found other activities and low and behold, a lot of things around the house got done. Hobbies were taken on. And we developed the gift to gab.

We weren’t complete luddites. Remember VCRs and DVD players? We had a VCR then a DVD player and would watch a movie once a week.

But last winter, our children, now young adults, did their magic with our old television set and a thing called a Rooku, or maybe it’s spelled Roku, either way, it feels like I’ve been rooked by streaming movies.

Streaming appears easy. Until we’re searching for a movie we like. Not easy. Nearly impossible. Fortunately, options come up and we can test a movie. If, after three minutes, we’re bored of the cussing, lust, and morbid curiosity, we switch it out and find script featuring intelligence, respect, and good humor.

Coming across television shows happened by chance. In July, when the weather turned hot and humid, I stopped going outside for my daily walk. Still wanting to exercise, however, I started walking in place in the sitting room and powered on the television.

Most of the TV shows confirm that we didn’t miss a blooming thing the last thirty years. But finding The Good Witch was lucky. Mainly because walking-in-place tempts exercise cheating.

When I walk outside, time flies. Wondering happens. Inspirations flood my mind. I relish the fresh air, birds, trees, bushes, nice lawns, decorative mailboxes, cloud color schemes, meeting neighbors.

Walking inside, in place, is another story. Time drags. Five minutes feels like crossing the Atlantic in a rowboat. I “exercise cheat” big time. So, I make myself watch one show. The Good Witch keeps me honest. And entertained.

The shows fictional character is Cassie Nightingale. She wears $899 dresses and high heels. Good humor right there. Her clothes have no ketchup stains and her house and car are always sparkling clean.

The characters manage to stuff so many adages or truisms into forty-two minutes that I feel as though I’m in a room with prophetesses, prophets, Confucius, any Dalai Lama, Margaret Fuller, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Eleanor Roosevelt, and my grandmother. But I don’t mind training my brain with wise and positive words to help discover and communicate the good in human nature.

My TV watching isn’t to disregard the bad in human nature. Bad things happen. And I hope to goodness we all get through it victoriously. In the meantime, the weather is cooling, and I’ll be walking outside soon. Wondering.

Hmmm, Did I ever see Cassie watch television?

New audio book

Newly released audio book:

Raising Children Without Church: Finding God in Everyday Activities

audio cover paint

Mindful Bridges

Well I must say, the newly repaired bridge over Wawayanda Creek in the Village of Warwick is pretty dandy. For the month of July, the bridge was closed off and vehicles detoured around the work area. When driving, I didn’t mind. The detour brought to my attention offices and businesses only a couple of blocks off the beaten path and are good to know.

Nice work on the bridge though. Smooth groove now. And safe I’m sure.

I think bridges are one answer to the dares of water. Water dares us to cross its mighty power or use its motion for power.

As for bridges, I was dazzled by the book, The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge, by David McCullough. The bridge’s design was conceived by John Roebling and built late 1800s. The suspension-cable bridge spans 1,595 feet and opened in 1883.

When riding my motorcycle across the United States a decade ago, I drove over the Mackinac Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the Americas, spanning 8,614 feet. Its total length is 5 miles and links Michigan’s Lower and Upper peninsulas. The Mackinac Bridge opened in 1957. Another tribute to competence and command.

I can still feel the grooved surface and movement of the bridge under my wheels. And the height? Two-hundred feet above the water.

The bridge was built to flux with temperature, winds, and weight. The deck can sway right or left as much as 35 feet in the center. You get the idea. It’s a feeling that impresses the soul when hovering over the bridge, with nothing but farm boots between the surface and my feet, six inches off the ground. Forget the facts I had no seatbelt and balanced on two wheels.

That soul impression of competence and command ranks up there with the type of humanity that leaves me humbled. Like when I make a stupid mistake and my husband quietly helps me fix it. Compassion is a bridge.

The bridge over Wawayanda Creek is one of about 17,450 highway bridges in New York State. How many times do you cross a bridge?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

How Woodstock 50th taught me about togetherness

Unknown to me fifty-years ago, when I was seven years old, the anomaly dubbed The Woodstock Festival, made history. How was it possible that 450,000 people knew to trek their way to the town of Bethel in upstate New York? No internet. No cellphones. At a time when area codes categorized people by regions.

In 1969, I was living on our family farm in southeastern Washington state. Oblivious to the world.

Mom and Dad had recently bought a black and white television so we could watch men land on the moon. I observed and thought, “Hmm, that’s interesting.” But was more intrigued by the boxy gizmo sitting on an end table, showing me moving and talking images.

I was a teen before I learned about Woodstock. I learned the clean version. Self-caring musicians, well-behaved attendees, people picking up their own litter, standing up for what’s right, wanting peace.

I still believe the clean version but as is true to any human version of life, it comes with flaws, eventually exposed. Fame sometimes blocks self-care, bad behavior lurks in the background of the human mind, litter happens, and what’s right and peace aren’t always clear.

And yet, after all these years, it’s the clean version that receives the brunt of my attention and is passed along in conversations. Fortunately, I’m not alone. Last Sunday, Times Herald-Record ran an article, Spirit of Woodstock lives on in memories of historic festival, confirming the type of attention and communication that points to the good in humanity.

From Times Herald-Record, Steve Israel interviewed three people who were closely connected to the original Woodstock. They shared hindsight and deepened admiration to the festival.

The article also carries a black and white photo showing a long line of cars piloting, bumper to bumper and sandwiched between thousands of people walking side-by-side, to the festival.

That photo reveals an answer to my very curious wonder of how so many people knew to make their way to a dairy farm in Bethel, back in the day before the internet.

Despite the fact I avoid crowds like the plague, the photo asked me to admit that I’m still in close contact with people. Whether in a line at the grocery store or eating out in a restaurant. I may be sandwiched in with family members, co-workers, or strangers, but without hesitancy and without the internet, we can strike up a conversation and keep sharing the spirit of togetherness.

Weird birds and water

In a steamy kitchen, Mom busily prepares dinner for our family of seven. She simultaneously pulls quart jars of preserved peaches out of the canner while flipping potatoes on the stove. My younger brother walks in the kitchen and says, “Mom, I ran over a bird.”

“Ah, that’s too bad, it’ll be okay, I know it feels sad ,” said Mom.

“Dad will be mad.” said my brother.

Double take from Mom.

My brother answers her questioning look, “Not a feathered bird, a sprinkler bird.”

“Oh, I’ll tell Dad, he will fix it, don’t worry. Go finish mowing the lawn,” said Mom.

Living in southeastern Washington state, where grass and crops require irrigation to survive, we call the sprinklers, perched on irrigation pipes, birds. It worked for us, most of the time. My brother finished mowing the lawn. Dad glued a coupler between the broken pipes and the bird sprayed water again after an irrigation valve was opened.

We used the word bird, for irrigation, frequently. We got paid by the number of birds we moved. We moved birds every day. We unplugged birds. We took off birds with broken springs and replaced them with new birds. We carried extra birds around with us in the farm trucks.

Since moving to New York, the word bird has totally swapped over for me. It just happened. No effort on my part because we don’t have irrigation in Warwick. When I say bird, I’m definitely referring to feathered creatures. Blue birds, robins, blue jays, cardinals, swallows, finches.

Another word, however, took me about five years to swap out. Or unlearn. Or get. In a nutshell, the swap out took effort and understanding. I just could not figure out why New Yorkers looked at me funny when I’d talk about pop. My husband finally put it together and explained, “They say soda here.”

So weird.

Not weird that pop is called soda here and pop in Washington but it’s weird trying to remember to say pop when visiting the Pacific northwest and soda here.

Sometimes, I lack the patience and etiquette to bother speaking with appropriate words altogether.

Last week, I’m at the pool shop collecting my weekly pool care supplies and remember to say, “Oh yes, one more thing I need help with. The edge of the hose thingy broke off the thingy I hook it too and I probably need a whole new thingy instead of just a piece of a thingy.”

The pool specialists and owners, Pool Ladies, as I call them, did a double take, but within minutes I had what I needed and was headed home to swim in water instead of use it to irrigate.

%d bloggers like this: