17 July 2011
Very present. Is that what travel does to me? When I cast my sensors inside looking for might have, should have, could haves, ought to’s, I cannot find them. Just now. Just sitting on the porch of Barb and Steve’s house in the middle of no where in Virginia. Aware that the dog follows me and keeps an eye on what I am doing. Aware that I look at the surrounding trees and wonder at their growth as if they were part of a garden only to remember that no one cultivates their varied sizes and shapes. Aware of the stillness and quiet, so much that an approaching car or truck, and probably a pick up, can be heard for almost a mile away -- and the mile away is almost on the property.
Barbara wonders if I can feel comfortable here. I wonder if I look completely uncomfortable. I like the quiet. I admit to being antsy about not understanding the rhythm of the days, looking for cues of the life. But I am more comfortable than not. I like the stillness. I can imagine a great garden here. I can imagine working on it.
The dog gets up from the porch and takes a run in the front-of-the-house field. He is a city dog, grown and raised in Kearny, New Jersey. He too is adapting to this space and freedom, the sounds and the quiet. He is doing okay. I can’t compare him to a country dog. I don’t know any. I wonder how Latkah would do.
Yesterday, Barb and Sheila, my niece, took Julia on a short horse back ride. Julia sat in front of Sheila on a big western saddle and Julia listened and followed directions. Julia helped brush the horses and was very patient as they were readied. Before the ride and when they were gone, I sat with Ruby, who lives on the property, whose husband once owned the land, and who has an informal life-estate to the small piece of land that their trailer sits on. Mr. Gibson, who has since died, and Ruby have watched over the land and the house and barn since Barb and Steve have owned and built here. Barb and Steve coming down every month or two to see the progress on the log house that they built and then to enjoy, get away from New Jersey, have benefited from having someone on the land, and Ruby has been able to keep her home.
Ruby handed Julia a bucket and a bunch of black eyed peas to shell, and after asking a few times and showing, Julia happily helped shell the peas, as if she had been asked and done it her whole life. Here is something that I never think of doing. Here is something that Julia can do well and without effort. I marvel at the opportunity for experiences that I cannot give her. Cannot only because it is not something that I imagine.
Last year, when I wildly proposed a half way house in China for girls who were on the road to adoption, and the notion that I might travel with some of those girls back to the States to lecture, Barbara proposed putting us up here in the wilds of Virginia for short periods of time. Right now, I can almost see, very clearly, in fact, a bevy of Chinese girls shelling peas, playing with kittens, digging in a big garden and being put to sleep in the upstairs rooms.