I haven’t written a blog post in almost a year, partly because I have been chasing a toddler. I think this is a legitimate excuse. After all, I’ve used it before. Recently I shifted through the reams of my poems (all unpublished) and realized that I had none from the 1980s. Unless there’s a handwritten folder of scribbled images buried in a box that I have forgotten, I seemed to have spent that decade chasing toddlers and reading picture books. My creativity was limited to homemade playdoh and decorated sugar cookies. And here I am again. But really I shouldn’t blame my grandson. To be honest, I didn’t think I had anything new to say. My second year in Connecticut was much like my first: I was snowed in. I battled the ice flow in the driveway. I couldn’t take the cold so I took off for a beach somewhere warm. I learned about ice dams after one developed on my roof (that was new). In the spring I planted flowers and herbs. I went to Maine. I learned to play golf. I learned how to stack the fire wood after Dave splits our logs (with a log splitter, not an axe). And now I’m raking leaves and chasing a toddler. But every once in a while, I think about the original premise of this blog: what happens when a sunny southern California girl finds herself transplanted to rocky New England soil?
During her recent visit, my second daughter casually remarked: “This is a different world.” We were meandering down a one lane road along the river in Litchfield (once again I was lost). The arch of leafy trees beginning to vaunt their fall colors, the lazy river, the solitude of the road—this was not the world I had raised her in. While Connecticut might be a Blue state, this is a state where church bells chime the hour. This is a state where the only liquor that grocery stores can sell is beer and not before ten in the morning. (If you want to drink wine, you need to shop in a liquor store. This may be why there are so few Trader Joe’s in Connecticut.) This is a state that requires you to show id in order to vote (and you have to provide a reason for an absentee ballot). In this state, the library is the cultural center of every town, offering book clubs, classes, musical performances and historical exhibits. My town’s library hosted a farmer’s market this summer. Buy your produce; check out a book. Life here is different.
I have learned to adjust. I keep better grocery lists. I drive out to the farm stands in the summer and fall to buy local produce because there is no year round farmer’s market. I volunteer at the library. This September, I set up an exhibit: Back to School: Images of Avon’s Public Schools from 1890 to 2000, using the library’s archive of photographs, textbooks and student publications. In January I will set up another display of photographs: Family Life in Avon: Photos of Our Past. (I’m still working on the title.) I have joined two book clubs and a golf group. I meet friends for coffee at the local family run coffee house. I watch deer grazing in the backyard. Life seems slower, less hectic. I have time to enjoy the seasons.
Nature is inspirational. I have learned about resilience. In the fall, my plants yellow, curl up, wither away. Dead stalks disappear in the snow. In the spring, I cut away the stalks and find tiny shoots. And soon I have flowers (if the deer don’t eat them). Summer 2013 I planted impatiens in spite of the warnings about impatiens downy mildew. Of course, I lost most of my impatiens before summer’s end. This year I stuck to perennials that I saw thriving in other people’s yards. But one day recently, I was arranging potted flowers near my front door when I noticed a tiny impatiens. Against all odds, a little seed had sprouted in the dirt between pavers and produced a flower. I find delight in the hardiness of this little plant. Like that impatiens, I am flourishing where I am.