Underestimate not the comforting power of freshly baked brownies of a wet and blustery November day. So was the scene at my sister in law's earlier today. I have married well. Two of my sisters in law are master bakers, whipping up a myriad of baked, pickled and roasted delights with the same effortless perfection with which my mother procures her prize winning garden.
This morning I awoke in a Patricia frame of mind. That is to say, I whipped up breakfast lunch and dinner within half an hour and before the sun rose. Boy sits in sleepy confusion asking why we have woken up at night, and isn't that good and shouldn't we do that all the time. I do my best to convince him otherwise and that we are but for a short time on school schedule and that at no other time must night be taken for day. Worth a try.
We sip our tea, scoff our toast and ease ourselves into the autumnal day. Our four month long Californian summer is very much at its end. After I drop off boy (skipping) at pre school where his teacher suggests I bring in treats next week as an early birthday celebration before we pick up sticks, I take a quick jaunt to the local TJ Maxx for a brief turbo turn about the shop. Under the shower of cold rain I drive towards Webster, a town whose sign tells me is where "life is worth living" just next to the two or more vacant retail spaces up for lease. Along the way I pass a cemetery with a large "Now Leasing" sign above it. Took me a moment to realise the luxury apartments it was publicizing appertained to the apartment block nestled at the far edge of the graveyard rather than roomy coffins.
My father in law is glued to a shopping channel in the background as I type with a chef that looks and sounds like a made man if I ever heard one. He is making chicken soup and I am hungry all over again. I am blaming it obviously on my new running regime. Up to about 4.5 miles and resting on my laurels. Till tomorrow that is when I am attempting to do it all over again. 6 miles due by Thanksgiving. Boy oh boy oh boy. Least Ohio is relatively flat. I am training on the undulating landscape that is Walworth. Even bought me a bit more gear which is slightly worrying to me as my self equipping usually heralds the abrupt end of a new pursuit.
After school we chowed a roast chicken (almost but not quite as good as my late aunt's)and entertained the local pastor. In Italian families the equivalent would be being host to the priest which is one step away from meeting a saint and involves as much kow-towing as is possible. Not that the priest necessarily has a God complex as such,(beg your pardon) but more that the hosts are prone to showering the special guest with honours. Pastor Jenny however arrived in a cheerful outfit, smiles and plenty of time to listen to our son's ramblings through various universes. She is my age roughly, a runner, passionate about sailing and has travelled. I find it challenging to relate to her as another woman my age without fearing to appear too familiar. Catholic schooling is more entrenched than I had supposed.
Tomorrow antiquing is planned with my sister in law whilst boy cavorts with his uncle and cousin. After the excitement and adrenalin of last week a little retraction is just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately boy's body reacted a little more violently to this need by delivering a brief dose of croup in the witching hours of sunday night. After a moment of indecision dad and I decide to brave the country roads for the hospital in Rochester to have him checked out by a doctor. Twenty minutes later he has been checked over, been fed a popsicle after a steroid dose, been sat infront of a television screen showing Toy Story, a magazine, crayons and stickers in hand. Dad and I looked at each other wondering whether the whole thing was not just a little bit too much like fun to make him want to make a habit of these late night escapades. When we return, boy buzzing somewhere above reality on steroids and E-numbers he announces that it is his waking time and he has decided this is his new morning time. Dad and I exchange looks judging silently who will stay up for the twilight rants. Luckily Napoleon is delirious and sleep overcomes before we can say goodnight.
In the morning monkey is jumping off the walls. I fear he may have inherited his mother's reluctance towards stillness. Perhaps I ought to send him out running. Nothing seems to quieten my mind like pacing these country roads. Not so for the two or three squashed racoons rigor mortis at the side of the roads. Next the squished frogs. And headless pigeon. Opposite side of the road corn husks rustle in the wind under the heavy grey fluffs of cloud. Occasionally a car passes me, swerving almost onto the other side of the road to give me space. I wonder whether I ought to take offence to this, then another hill hits me and I can think of nothing but surviving the climb to the top. I passed hushed homes, moulding leaves, Sherburne cemetery huddled under the leafy shade of ancient trees. Warning signs of tractors and later those of deer leave me wondering with each huff and puff what I will do if a Doe suddenly crosses my path. Or a buck for that matter.
Last night as I returned from the dance studio where Cory's dance teacher suggested Mariela take class and be filmed, I notice me clutching at the wheel a little too tightly as I weave through the countryside lashing with rain eyes wide for crazed wildlife I might harm by mistake. In the darkest stretches wondering whether a UFO might pay me a visit. The corn fields lining route 441 seem perfect for some such visitation. Watched too many movies.
As I squirrel towards winter I watch about me the frenzy that is voting season. Much disquiet on the home front. Frustration at the democrat voters many of whom, disillusioned with Obama have not turned out to vote and permitting Republicans to regain some power. A general malaise with the state of the country, from most of the folk I have met along the way. When I read home news my heart tightens when I read about yet more arts cuts. It certainly dulls any yearnings for home turf. Besides which, my home turf came to see me instead. Spending time with the folks was a great tonic.
I hibernate now whilst dad is out strutting Milwaukee, taking in beer tastings along the way (the emailed video of the troupe caterwauling in harmony was perfect). Soon he will head back new york state way, he and his hump entertaining half of his childhood.
Country living for just one more week. Think my mind will be well and truly cleansed in the deer trotted air by then. And if not, there's always the turkey trot come Cincinnati.