First, something lovely. Every morning, almost, I walk Pasha the puppy and sometimes Tinker (our fourteen year old border collie mix old man dog) up our road for a while. We usually end up taking forty five minutes or so to walk a couple of miles, with plenty of time for sniffing (them) and waking up (me) on the way. Our road travels up hill (our house is already at 1100 or so feet, but the road rises more than that behind us,) past an enormous gentleman's farm owned by an amazing couple who have been so welcoming and kind to us that we sometimes pinch ourselves, past another old farmhouse with a beautiful Dutch-style barn, and finally starts downhill, changes abruptly from asphalt to dirt, and wanders through an enormous stretch of land still owned and farmed by a family that's been here for generations. Early in the morning, heir cows pasture far off the road, but you can hear them lowing, which always makes Pasha perk her ears.
One neighbor, on the paved section of School House Road (and indeed, the old school house is right across the street from us,) has a couple of old, feral apple trees in his yard; they seem to have been purposefully planted, like relics from an old orchard, but they stand alone near the driveway, with no other trees around. Another apple is improbably roadside, and I've been watching its fruit all summer. When I first noticed them, the apples were tiny, crab apple size, but they're now nearly big enough for eating and starting to color. Today, the dogs stopped right beneath the roadside tree, and I instantly knew why. As soon as I inhaled, my whole body filled with a lilting summer scent, so sweet and floral that it seemed impossible.
Continuing on, I found the first colored maple leaf fallen on the ground, and later today, when we were driving across Massachusetts for our very fun field trip to the Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Dido said, "Mom! Look! The first leaves are turning color." Not many, not yet, but he was right.
That's the good part, not the strange part. The strange part started with lots of breakage: plates, glasses, a silver baby cup mangled in the disposal, culminating in a collapsing shower door shattered all over the H and Dido in the bathroom (they're fine.) I've written before about how things breaking always indicates or presages a period of some kind of instability, and this one was no exception.
My mother arrived in the middle of it for a nice, if somewhat too harried visit. (When am I not too harried? I'd like to know.) We were all so happy to see her, delighted to share our amazing new home with her, thrilled that she seemed to soak in the place and all the characteristics of it that make us think she'd love living here. We had our usual arguments (they are, ever and always, exactly the same--why IS that? We'd both like to know.) but it was a good visit nonetheless. Her first night here, we had a dinner party with some friends we adore and thought she would, too. One of them grew up in the same town as my mom and dad, and is around the same age, so I knew my mom would enjoy either reminiscing or dishing, depending upon how she related to L (our friend.)
Within moments of L's arrival, a bomb fell. Her aunt was my father's stepmother. We are, in some strange way, cousins. This is odd and coincidental, of course, but also thrilling. There is so much I don't know or don't remember about my dad (who died when I was seventeen, for those who don't know) and I have had dropped in my lap someone I really enjoy who knew him as a young man. I am still reeling from this news. L was very close to her first cousin, my dad's stepsister, who died when I was quite young. I don't even know how to write about this because it feels, as my mother said, like something you would scoff at in disbelief if it happened in a novel.
Stay tuned for Part II.