Blog 4: November 2009

Most of you know that the main reason for our winter travelling is that I—Linda-- cannot handle the cold weather. The Raynaud’s is unpleasant and dangerous. I start wearing gloves in August, and I get to put them away, say, maybe, late June.

David wanted to leave Kingston RI on Oct 1. I held out for Nov. 1, as I remembered that the apple and grape harvests take place in October.  In those harvests, lots of friends offered helping hands as I stayed in the house, a bit chilled, and, after all, how can you pluck grapes with gloves on?

Now that we’re on the road, November seems to have been the perfect time to get started. We first went north to Binghamton, NY, where grey is the usual sky color, but it was gloriously sunny there. We soon headed to southern Indiana and then to Kentucky. There were still red and orange leaves left on trees, and the sky was clear blue.  We passed horses in the fields and, from time to time, an Amish family in their buggy.

We had a lovely time with friends in Bingo, enjoyed the heck out of staying with Abby G, where the weather was also great: I found myself raking her leaves at 9 at night – with no gloves on! It was a joy to find a blister on my thumb the next day.

But I was getting cranky, very cranky, spending so much time in the car. Maybe we should ditch the car and fly the rest of the way to Mexico?

 

33 years ago I was a grad student at IU. I had just finished my courses and had the prelim exams looming before me. David was supportive as I whined my way through the reading list. One day he asked me if I’d like to tour a nice historical site called Shaker Village in Pleasant Hill, Ky.  I had a passing knowledge of the Shakers, having grown up in northern Kentucky, but I didn’t know about the historical village. So I said, sure, why not? I remember that --  as we turned off of the Bloomington street onto Route 37, headed south --  all I could think to myself was, “What am I doing?”

We drove on winding 2-lane back roads and arrived at a museum village along a hill ridge in the horselands.  Fantastic buildings. Coopers and broom-makers and weavers plying their trades. The traditional spare yet fine furniture, peg racks everywhere. Simple, timeless, beautiful. I was mesmerized by it all.

We enjoyed a country-style dinner in a big dining room, then a wine at the fireplace, seated in Shaker rockers. At some point between sips of red wine, David made a um, suggestion, that I move to Nebraska with him where he was going to be Chair of the Language Department. I was stunned. And then spent the rest of the evening in that chair studying. At least I thought I was studying.

 

This past weekend, David and I returned to Shaker Village. The roads haven’t improved, nor has there been much new construction along the road leading to the Village. The horses still munch in the fields, and rows of wood fences encircle the green pastures. The weather continued mild and we walked through the Village fields by the few sheep, goats, and geese. I still marvel at the sweet simplicity of the Shaker architecture and furniture. The serenity muted any “modern” external sounds. It was nice not to pick up the computers and check the mail. We could hear the leaves rustling in the breeze. We took the requisite pictures of this and that.

 

And then we went in to eat. We enjoyed a country-style dinner, and then we went and sat in Shaker rockers in one of the large rooms.  I sipped a glass of red wine. We talked of sundry matters, none consequential.

David got out a map and unfolded it. We could fly down to Mexico, he said, but think of all these pretty roads we can explore between here and there together… the way we’ve been rambling down roads together the last 33 years.

Then we ambled, without jackets or gloves, back to our room. I’m glad I said “yes” those 33-odd years ago. I think he is, too.

Linda, no longer cranky

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