Last days at the homestead

5/8/22

My restful time here is drawing to a close. This past week has been wonderful, connecting with my parents and my childhood home.

I’ve done almost no “outside” socializing here (except by phone) although I was spontaneously invited to the 50th birthday party of twin middle- and high school classmates of mine yesterday. I enjoyed celebrating their milestone, and meeting some of their other friends and family, as well as seeing a few other old classmates, most of whom I had not seen in more than 30 years! (I’ll refrain from posting the one group photo we took, since I haven’t asked permission of all the people in it.) My mom knew the birthday girls’ mom, though, so she joined me at the party.

We were lucky to make it there—in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, where we’ll be returning tomorrow for me to catch the train to Pittsburgh—because several days of  steady rain had created flood warnings in the area. The creek in our own driveway was high (the photo of it I’m posting is from my second day here, before the rain had begun) but we managed to get the car through it.

One other excursion during my time here was to the quaint post office in the quaint town of Waterford (founded by Quakers in 1733). It was always a charming and welcoming place to visit to pick up the mail in my childhood. We lived out on a rural road, so the post office was where the mail was always delivered. I have fond memories of enormous Sears catalogs (I used to long for their canopy bedroom sets, which in hindsight would have been laughable in my various unfinished bedrooms, with curtains in lieu of doors) and handwritten letters from faraway friends and relatives.

The post office still holds this charm, and I even received my package of vitamins there. (Hopefully I can get back in the habit of actually taking my vitamins! I’ve gotten very slack about that.)

I also strolled all around the property here, admiring the fields and wildlife. Sightings included one snake (though I didn’t get a good enough photo to post) and one large snake skin, as well as a vulture, many squirrels, and four cute groundhog babies.

The old (and recently restored) barn was looking venerable at the edge of the fields my 81-year-old father continues to mow.

I did some reading while I was here, too. This included some very moving excerpts from my mother’s memoirs that she is slowly writing, as well as an unexpected opportunity to do some copy editing/proofreading on a Portland friend’s wonderful novel.

I got to celebrate Mother’s Day with my mother in person today, for the first time in 32 years. It happened to fall on the 50th anniversary of the day that my folks signed the papers to acquire this property (affectionately known as “Toad Hall,” after Mr. Toad’s residence in The Wind in the Willows) six months before I was born in 1972.

A few days earlier, Mom had baked a wonderful vegan strawberry-rhubarb pie for me. What a treat!

It has all been a treat. Tonight, my last night here, we even had a video chat with my sister and her partner in Seattle.

I kind of wish I could stay longer here. But… the road beckons, and time is steadily moving onward. Tomorrow, we are planning to have a late lunch at a highly rated vegan restaurant in Harpers Ferry, and then I will board the train to Pittsburgh, to begin my next chapter!

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