It feels as if we are floating on the edge of the ocean. The tide pulls us out and then a wave brings us back to shore. I finished Ian McEwan’s book Solar and even though I know it is a well crafted satire, it was still  a struggle to stay with the seriously flawed main character, who despite having been given every advantage is a master of self-destruction. The book left me feeling greasy and over-stuffed and my little pep talks to myself: “It’s just a book” were useless. What did bring me back was a package from a long and not so lost friend. He sent a great letter and a beautiful movie about the choice we make between a life of grace and a life of nature- nature being sometimes cruel and ultimately self-serving.

On Thursday just our Ford truck was out of commission- the pressure side of the power steering hose broke, which sent a quick flood of fluid out on the driveway. On Friday night the other truck broke and then on Saturday my car wouldn’t start. These things do happen when your vehicles are starting to get some miles.  Friends, for whom I am very grateful, loaned me their cars and we got the car in the shop to replace the starter. By the following Thursday night I hadn’t heard about the car being done and the next day it was my turn to drive to the market in Ithaca. I called Barb, the woman who sells Pied Piper Maple Syrup and with whom I share driving. I had borrowed a car from a friend for the trip but then realized that my market table, huge sign and umbrella were in my car, still at the shop. The next morning we were to meet at 6am and I called to tell her I was late. The borrowed car was sitting in my driveway and as if the steering wheel was locked I couldn’t turn the key. I sat there thinking, “Is the universe trying to tell me something or just testing to see how tough I am?” It seems sort of ridiculous now. Billy came to my rescue. The car was fine; I was using the wrong Toyota key. Tired, perhaps? A few minutes later when I pulled up at the car shop, Barb had beaten me there, found my car in the parking lot, unlocked, and had started without me to unload my supplies into her vehicle. She insisted on driving and handed me coffee and a spinach omelet. (Wow!-Later, at the market when she went to get more change, she came back with a gluten-free bagel for me because she thought I still must be hungry- double wow!) It was a slow week in Ithaca for unknown reasons, for everyone, and of course I was trying not to think about the car repair bill. I asked Ron, a honey vendor next to me what he was reading and he said I might be interested because it was by William Penn, another Quaker, though it was written in the original language so he was going through it slowly. It was an account of the persecution that Quakers went through during their early years. And seemingly out of the blue Ron said he didn’t think it was possible to not be religious. “Everyone worships, either God or themselves.” he said.  And I’ll have to think about that for a while before I can respond.

Billy called Barb’s phone (isn’t it sort of funny that we have shortened the word to cell?)  to tell me our meat was ready to be picked up from the butcher shop which is closer to Ithaca than home. He didn’t realize I wasn’t driving on my own gas money. Barb happily agreed to go home a new, slightly longer route in order to do the pick-up. Back in our town, she dropped me off to see about my car (fixed I hope, $425 later!), she followed behind when I dropped the borrowed car back at my friend’s house, took me back to the shop, helped me unload my supplies, sold some maple products to the repair person ( she’s also an amazing salesperson) and ended our Friday with a quick ice cream float for her and a maple walnut scoop in a cup for me. It was delicious and after I took a bite I said I was going home to unload coolers and then going right to bed which didn’t really happen but just knowing it could was enough.

This week was a hard one in many ways (flat tire on a tractor, malfunctioning freezer (!), sick ram (!!), Billy’s broken foot, and the continued effects of the drought…) and each time we were pulled out into deep water, a little grace has pulled us back, for which I am very grateful. I do feel as if we are on the verge of a big change. Today even the wind, as if on cue, has picked up and is swinging the sunflowers in wide circles.

. . . . .

And then there was the trip to NYC.

Our cell phone was dropped which caused the screen to slowly turn white which was the end and I hadn’t gotten a new one, yet. I’ve been enjoying the silence quite frankly and wondered if we really needed it.  Yesterday, a little after lunch we set out to deliver meat to NYC and attend M&G’s baby shower. The newly repaired car with a brand new starter which was working beautifully, suddenly had a floppy gas pedal. I pulled over and told the girls to relax. We just had to wait for an hour or so and a police car would drive by and see us and stop to help. Police cars did go by and no one stopped. No one of any sort stopped. The girls got silly by supper time and shouted funny poems which were lost in the noise of the traffic pounding past us.  Around midnight I coasted the car into the metal guard rail, hoping if I looked like a drunk driver  I would draw some attention.  It didn’t work.  It was cold and we shared what we had and the girls slept a little. We worried about everyone worrying when we didn’t arrive. At 3am I decided that the traffic was slow enough that I could coast over the bridge just ahead which had no shoulder and that we would be better off on the other side, a little closer to an exit. It worked; we just made it. Then we coasted slowly, very, very slowly to the next exit  and got off the highway. We finally came to a hill the car couldn’t climb and I put Harriet behind the wheel and got behind to push, which didn’t work but suddenly there were lights behind us and it was a cop. I actually clasped my hands together with happiness when I told him how pleased I was to see him and he laughed. He was a nice guy. He locked us in the back where the criminals go, with apologies, and drove us to a gas station where there was a little heat if you stood next to the pizza display. They let us use their phone and let us stand around for a couple of hours until someone woke up and could come and get us. Our friends/neighbors came to the rescue. Another person we barely know heard the story from a farmer near us and drove with Billy and his trailer to pick up my car. And at home we took hot showers and ate some food, and went to sleep.

. . . . .

 and @ 7am, help is on the way

Odd statue, don’t you think to have outside of an inn? (“A bear of a week”- haha)

10 thoughts on “The Tree of Life

  1. whew….when it rains it pours! I sure hope you are feeling rested and hopefully the vehicles are all being repaired without too much cost or trouble. really, life is not so easy sometimes, is it? Here’s hoping for the wet kind of rain….and let it pour, for the sake of your farm and animals. Imagine the stories your kids are going to tell their kids about their childhood adventures! wowser……xxxx sending love! and hugs to all! xxrobertaxx

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Wow. Just reading this left me exhausted. I’m in awe you could write about it. I think it’s much better than Ian McKewan. I guess the tornado missed you, but that’s about all that did!
    Technology: When it works, it’s magic. When it fails, I think the Amish might have a point.
    Here’s to a dove of a week coming up. –Wendy in Washington

  3. This was not an easy post to read, but of course it was less difficult than what you endured.
    You are brave and strong and life is good, but not exactly smooth. And we always need
    to remember and appreciate the helpers, they are everywhere.

  4. Oh Anna. We are now well into this week, and I am at home with a sick kid (first cold of the school year), and I am wondering where you are just now. My hope is for safe and sound at home, maybe in your garden, maybe in that beautiful bright kitchen. Sending love, and wishes for no more tests to your considerable fortitude and strength for awhile!

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