Farm Life: Urban Renewal

Thirty years ago, I live in NYC. Urban environment to the max. Apartment buildings, alternative side-of-the-street parking, subway stations within walking distance, hand-cart for grocery store errands, lines at any business.

For nearly twenty years, I have lived on the side of a mountains, on 30+ acres of forest, with the closest neighbors about a quarter of a mile up or down the road. Urban activities – museums, theatres, restaurants, parallel parking – were excursions for days off.

The hussle-and-bussle of urban life is not part of our usual day. With Covid-19, urban settings are even less part of our day. Museums were closed, or open for limited, timed ticket viewing. Theatres were closed, or re-opened with social distance seating and masks. Restaurants turned into side-walk cafe’s, with heaters and bubbles. No trouble parking as everyone ran out to the woods to buy country places.

New Years Eve. We had plans to meet friends at a winery, owned by a former co-worker, for celebration and music (another co-works is in the band). Friends got colds, Covid mutated to Omicron, the event got cancelled. We had a quiet weekend on our hands and food to prepare ourselves. Fortunately, we already had sparkling wine in the refrigerator chilling.

Another friend has been quite ill recently. We checked in with her Friday morning to find that she had taken a turn for the worse. Quick pack the over-night bag, toss in some books and devices, put together some snacks and tea for the road. We were off to D.C. a couple of hours away to help out. Urban renewal.

Hardly anyone else was on the road mid-morning of New Years Eve, so our drive in was easy without need to divert because of traffic. We found a parking space close to our friend’s building. We let ourselves in and checked in with her. The home care nurse was supposed to come by, but we did not know when. A phone call and twenty minute wait gave us a time frame of about an hour until the nurse would arrive.

As our snacks did not include a more substantial lunch, I suggested that I could walk over to the store to buy a couple of sandwiches. Trader Joes was about a mile way. That is about the distance we walk on our HOA’s private road to get to our mail box on the state road.

I had a general idea of which direction to walk. Then I noticed people walking toward me with Trader Joe paper bags. I figured that I would keep walking toward them until I found the store on Wisconsin Avenue, uphill from Georgetown.

Looking along the street, I calculated that about seven row houses, or three co-op buildings if 10 to 12 units, fit into the distance that I usually walk from our front door to our compost pile behind the garage. Thus, the mile walk to the store/or to our mail box, could contain hundreds of homes. The number of shoppers in Trader Joes probably were more than live (full time and weekenders) in our HOA as well as the two mile stretch of state road out to the main road. I would not be surprised that the number of people within a mile radius of our friend’s home is probably larger than the total number of people in our rural county (15,000). It’s feeling a little crowded.

My initial errand was to buy a couple of sandwiches. But, given our evolving plans, I thought that a few more items could keep the evening and breakfast simpler. Add a quart of milk and box of raisin bran cereal, bananas, and oranges for breakfast. Veggies, cheese, assorted crackers, smoked salmon, and a bottle of sparkling wine for New Years Eve dinner. Almond butter chocolates for desert. Peanut butter filled pretzels if we get the munchies. We were ready to celebrate.

I tossed in a new Trader Joe cool pack to carry my sandwiches, and other items, back to our friend’s home. I became one those walking home with a Trader Joe bag, passed all those homes that could fit between our mail box and front door. Walkers tended to wear masks. Joggers did not. Maybe they are going fast enough to out-run the latest variant.

I returned to our friend’s one-bed room apartment with provisions.

As I mentioned the size of homes is much more compact than our sense of space in the country. Those row houses and co-op buildings have smaller rooms fitted together economizing the square foot cacluation. I would estimate that our friends apartment would fit into our kitchen and great room more or less. Cozy, when you add three cats.

We found places to sit, stage our books for quiet moments, set up knitting, and balance the iPad for writing or listening to music. Finding an electrical outlet in an older building is another exploration in economy of scale. Locating the multi-outlet surge protectors was easier. I put on SuriusXM 40ies, big-band music for New Years Eve. We found some old movies and selected Charade with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant to watch. By the end of the movie, we were ready to say, ”Whoooohoooo, Happy New Year” early, then turn out the lights (inside, not the street lights outside).

We will spend the weekend, take more walks out to the store, and pick up another skein of yarn for knitting, and see what other movies we can watch.

Happy New Year.

Most of us would like to put 2021 behind us, maybe more than 2020, which at least we could see as unexpectedly awful. 2021 just seemed to be awful for our own stupidity and rigid thinking. 2022 will be a year of restoring our health, physical, emotional, social, and spiritual.

Let us renew the year, caring for ourselves, our family, our family, and random strangers.

(I could say ”Renew in 2022”, but that would be cheesey)

About hermitsdoor

Up here in the mountains, we have a saying, "You can't get there from here", which really means "We wouldn't go the trouble to do that". Another concept is that "If you don't know, we ain't telling." For the rest, you'll have to read between the lines.
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9 Responses to Farm Life: Urban Renewal

  1. cindy knoke says:

    The Best to you in 2022!

  2. Marshall Margaret says:

    Thanks Hermit Door for another good read! Happy New Year to you too. Glad to know that you will be out to CA to visit your Mother again. She remains cheerful in spite of the difficulty finding the right word to use! Love, mm u

  3. What good friends you are! Best of luck to your friend. As for rural life and urban life… if I had money, I would live in both places at certain times of the year. Love nature, but I also love culture, which thrives in cities. Also love the diversity of cities. Wonderful to see so many varieties of folks. Anyway, a very happy New Year to you!

  4. You are a good friend Oscar, as I had suspected. I hope your friend is in a comfortable situation. Saying prayers to her.
    I did picture you loading up at Trader’s Joes. Do you knit, or is it for the dear wife?
    I don’t mind being cheesy: Let’s renew in 2022!
    Many blessings!!

    • hermitsdoor says:

      Hope that you are recovering. Our friends died on Monday. We are home, recovering ourselves. Linda’s knitting is part of her healing. I learned to knit and crochet from my grandmother, but mostly directly my creative energy elsewhere (though your mosaic projects have planted ideas…). Peace.

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