Galloping Forward, Possibly Headless

*Photo taken in the woods of New Hampshire, overlooking the rolling hills.

I have missed living in the woods. It is so very wonderful to be here again, and I am so glad we finally made it to New Hampshire. Our first couple of weeks in the Keene area are keeping Michael and I busy while we work on switching ourselves over from New York to New Hampshire. It’s a lot of work to change states, because it means changing your driver’s license, registration, insurance, employment, mailing address…you get the picture. I will have to register to vote, and do my research on candidates. A whole slew of homework came with my new job at the school, much of which I have to do in the first 60-90 days, and most of which is online course work. Yikes. Meanwhile, we still have work to finish at our Olean house, and this weekend we will have to return there to continue moving things we need with us, but didn’t have room on our previous trip. Can I just say here that I feel like I need a rubber room? Does anyone have a straight jacket I can borrow? My stress level is getting a little out of control.

Aside from getting settled in our digs, I am still trying to keep at my writing goals (and sometimes failing, which kills me). My heart has been telling me pretty much my whole life that I am a writer. The problem is that I still haven’t found the secret sauce for living on it yet. While that isn’t the end of the world, it does make me sad that I have to misdirect myself with pesky things like getting a job to have an income, and then take away from what I would much rather be doing: holing up in a room alone with my writing. Instead, I have been plundering my brain for my Montessori training of 30 years ago and spending my first week at a local school as a teacher’s assistant. It’s good to be in Montessori again, though I have to admit I’m really exhausted. Toddlers are a tough age for me, even though they can also be adorable and sweet. I do love their purity of motive and id-like discussions, since they usually just tell you the truth and rarely hold back asking about anything. It’s refreshing to be around such honesty, but it’s also challenging to try to manage some of the difficult behaviors. Over time, hopefully that will improve. We just started the school year, so we have a lot of learning ahead to help us all blend better. If it doesn’t, I might just keel over suddenly. Even though I take great care of myself and don’t really feel my age, I’m not 20 anymore. Getting up and down from the floor for six hours a day without a break is taking a bite out of me.

When I’m not running errands, filling out paperwork, or struggling to keep up with toddlers, I make time to walk my dogs. Though Michael does come with me when he can, I am usually the one with the serious walking schedule. Firstly, I HAVE to get outside every day. It’s a nearly religious ritual for me. All my life I’ve been an outdoor girl, and that is never going to change. My walk time is something I have to do for myself, and now that we’re back in the woods, I find myself absolutely delighted to walk this lovely, quiet dirt road again. The view from the top of the hill where we live is glorious. Birch trees, pines, oaks, maples—endless trees of the forest line the road, and now that fall is beginning, all the fields are turning yellow with goldenrod and purple from the asters. This road is where Michael and I lived when we first came to New Hampshire and fell in love with this state, and it feels fitting that this is where we are camped until we find a place to buy. This road almost feels like home, and I love the familiarity of the curves, the lichen-studded rock walls marking property lines, the boggy pond, and the farm at the top of the hill. Even if we move elsewhere, I think I will always enjoy walking up this road, and will probably come back here just to enjoy it when I can.

The trees are just now showing a tinge of yellow here, too, and I am beside myself with glee that this year Keene is bringing back its pumpkin festival. Fall is my favorite time of year, and I am over the moon to be able to enjoy it in New Hampshire. I have plans to go for a nice, long drive to see the gorgeous foliage when the peak hits, but I also plan to explore the fun of my favorite season. The pumpkin festival of Keene was once the largest display of jack-o-lanterns of all time (according to Wikipedia), but a few years ago a riot caused the town to stop having the festival all together. I don’t know what convinced the town to try again, but I am stupidly happy that I get to go see all the carved pumpkins. I might even carve one myself if I’m allowed. Now that the summer is waning, I am thinking about apple and pumpkin pies, Halloween, cider, haunted hay rides, and all the other wonders of autumn. When we lived in Olean, we went on a haunted hay ride, but it was only mildly scary. Maybe there’s a better one around here.

Last time we lived in Keene, we took a trip to Salem (yes, that Salem) because Michael was intrigued. Though it was interesting to learn about the history on a guided tour we took (there are several companies that run tours in October, and maybe even longer), I felt the rest of the carnival-like atmosphere wasn’t really my cup of tea. It was interesting to see Nathaniel Hawthorne’s home there, but I was largely underwhelmed. If you have a hankering to go, by all means, experience the town in October. Be warned: crowds are massive, parking is difficult, and tours are packed. Plan ahead, darlings. I actually might be more interested to try going at a different time of year, when it’s not near Halloween. Maybe exploring would be more fun without so many people plugging up the streets. In any case, I think I plan to seek out a good bunch of festivals and activities so I can fully enjoy my first official fall as a New Hampshire resident. It seems like the right thing to do.

Much as I would love to rattle on about all the many things I love about being here right now, my brain is fried. Are toddlers actually zombies in disguise? I think they might have eaten my brain—they had ample opportunity today while I was discombobulated by their silly antics. Still, there are those moments when the heart clutches, like when I asked one child to help another because one child was having a tough time, and without hesitation the help is given so sweetly and gently…such moments are priceless. Tears well up in my eyes once in a while when the little ones take care of each other. No matter what most adults think about the capabilities of young children, think again. They are blossoming with galaxies of compassion and kindness, even if in the next moment they are consumed with a tantrum. To see the meticulous care of those tiny fingers carrying a cut glass vessel of water without spilling a drop, or to watch them use a pair of tweezers to place tiny beads into small cups is a pleasure to behold. Even if they exhaust me, I learn multitudes from the littlest people. They are genuine when they like you, and they will not hold back when they don’t. Nothing but authenticity will do. Such clarity is a treasure, and I hope I can hold it together to do my work well. My body tells me it is time for rest, and so I hope next week will offer up more opportunity to explore. This weekend promises to be another lesson in brutality, since we must go back to Olean to carry more boxes, fix more things, and drive seven hours one way. No rest for the weary, but sometimes dreams take sacrifice. We’re keeping our eyes on the prize. Get out there, my friends, and enjoy the wealth of autumn where you live. Or perhaps help a person who must survive yet another monster storm. We’ll need to be all hands on deck in the next few years, methinks. Let’s take care of each other, shall we?

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