I had just about settled into my new life on the farm, when it was time to pack up and leave for a long stay with my parents in London. They are in their nineties now, ailing, and my visit was a small attempt to bridge the ocean between us – to give them the kind of day to day care and company that the ocean gets in the way of.
I left the green of our valley just as cornstalks were being mowed down, and the leaves were beginning to make their slow evolution towards Fall’s golds and reds. It was weirdly warm for late September, and hard to imagine what the landscape would look like when I returned in early November. Certainly, I would not be dressed in the sandals and shorts I wore on my drive back to New Jersey!
London, however, was enjoying its own Indian Summer when I arrived. It rained once while I was there, and all the heavy woolen sweaters I’d packed based on previous memories of London proved to be overkill. I wore my jacket once, my hat and gloves never.
Moving from country to city was jarring at first, but years of New York City life are hard to shake, and soon I was back to my city-wise self. I loved the hustle and bustle of it all, the sense of movement and action, the pace. I loved that I could pick up coffee around the corner from my parent’s house, hop on the Tube for a morning at a museum, and pick up groceries for dinner on the way home. I loved people watching in a city the whole world seems to visit, and the diversity that brings.
I lived two lives in London: one in which I made excursions into its bright, busy world, and one in which I tended to my parents. A life of contrasts. Somedays I spent just indoors with them, and learned much about what it means to age with dignity and independence. And somedays I spent absorbed in what London has to offer: rambling walks, cavernous museums, a cup of tea looking over a tangle of buses, cars, and people.
And then I came back home:green pastures, but the leaves were off the trees and skies were a bleak, Novembery grey. It was time to get our storm windows up, and the porch furniture back in the barn, to bring stack loads of wood into the house, and scout for the last of the kindling before it is buried by snow.
The valley is quiet and still, only the geese make their presence known as they fly south. Grass crunches when I walk, and the only sounds at night are Sophie’s sighs and the clicking and whooshing of the fire in the wood stove.
A month away…and I’m glad to be back home.