I don’t get the chance to swing by her house nearly often enough, but every time I do, it’s an amazing combination of relaxing, energetic, and calming. She’s a gardener by trade, so everything seems to grow a little bit better around her.
The drive from Boston to Connecticut is a pretty clean one – most of it is on the highway no matter what you do, but near the end there’s a bit of a side path that one can take, dodging the highway in favor of more country roads.
My Aunt’s house is nestled in the Connecticut backwoods… not that far from civilization, but it somehow perfectly harkens back to a time when the town general store was actually a general store, and that was the only place that people would congregate… partially because it had a little bit of everything, and partially because it’s the only store for a dozen miles.
I don’t personally remember that time, of course… but somehow her town makes me think that I remember it.
Combine that feeling with a perfectly rustic house, and you’ve got an idea of how it feels to park the car and walk into the front door.
Saturday, 15-Nov 2014
I drove up on a Saturday. Earlier that day I’d done my usual “relaxing Saturday” routine, starting out with breakfast and working my way through some time at the climbing gym and a few random errands. I even found some early presents for people; not that I was specifically looking, but around this time of year things start to just pop out at me.
Once I hit the road, the drive went quickly – I rocked out to music, but it couldn’t distract me from the fact that I’d left the top on the car up. It’s sad to have a convertible non-converted, but I have a new rule for this year: no top down when it’s below 45 Deg.F out. Last year I put it down as low as 20, but that started to crack the canvas… and I really don’t want to replace that soft-top anytime soon. I looked into it… not particularly cheap.
After meeting my Aunt for dinner at our usual pizza haunt, her and I spent the night chatting and catching up. I’ve been at my job for nearly two years now, so I’d accumulated more than a few stories for her. And her newest book had just went out to the final editors, so I got to hear a few stories about that whole process… a stressful one, from the sounds of it. Before we knew it, midnight had rolled around and it was finally time to crash.
My Aunt wakes up early… I have no idea how she does it, but somehow 4-6 hours of sleep are more than enough for her to be more productive that I could ever hope to be. So I wasn’t particularly surprised when I woke up at my usual “sleep in” time of 8:30 to hear her finishing up her morning chores.
See, when you’re a gardener like her, there’s always a ton of little things to do… by the time time I was dressed and downstairs, she had watered the whole greenhouse, and probably done a dozen other little things too.
But we sat down for an excellent breakfast of yogurt and granola, and then made our way out back to feed the goats and let them out into their yard to play. They’ve got a whole slew of cool things to run and jump on, so the four of us played around in the yard for a while before tucking into the days work.
As I mentioned, gardeners always have a ton of things to get done: Today, our goals were to clean up some of the leaves, uncover the front garden beds, and put together a few potted plants for me to take home to my office. (Ed note: Ben’s moved to a new office that doesn’t have windows. He thinks that having a few plants around will help him actually focus and not go crazy over the winter. We’ll let you know how that goes.)
The raking went quickly, though it was a little sad how excited I got over one of her rakes. See… most rakes just have their tines, and you rake leaves with them. You hold, make raking motions, and that’s it. There’s no settings or dials to adjust. Well. Not with this rake: instead, it had adjustable-length tines, that allowed me to swap between large-area raking, and small-detail raking. I know, I know, it’s silly. But you know what? It’s neat. It’s a simple solution to the problem of a single rake not really being usable in multiple parts of a garden. I like simple solutions.
So we raked up, finished up, dumped leaves, and got to hang out for a while.
Then; lunch. Asparagus and cheese and the leftovers from breakfast… Honestly, I never really noticed it before, but I think I got a lot of my cooking style from my Mom, Grandma, and Aunt. Not the specific recipes (though I did get a lot of them as well), but the simplicity. A few ingredients, interestingly combined. I don’t make extremely complex meals; they usually just involve stuff thrown together. and I like it 🙂
From the lunch table we headed out to the nursery to pick me up a fern for my office. My Aunt already had an agave and another fern, but I was planning on three office plants: that way, I could have two in the office and one at home, and rotate them out. Keep them getting some semblance of natural light, instead of the demonic fluorescent lighting of my cube.
The shopping trip was pretty simple and clean: we picked out a Birds Nest fern (seen below), and my Aunt got celebritied when a fellow gardener stopped my aunt to thank her for hosting a workshop that had helped this woman get her garden back on track. It’s always cool when I get a reminder that my Aunt is totally a famous person, even though I always see her as that cool family member who’s always playing in the garden 🙂
And then, after re-potting the plants, it was quickly time to pack up and head back onto the drive home. We stayed and chatted for a while first, of course, but it didn’t last nearly long enough. These visits never do, somehow. They always find me sad when I’m driving home… wishing that I could already be heading back toward the peace of the greenhouse.