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I choose a different life

Well before sunrise, the scent of October hovers over the lake. From inside, I spot the lone heron that returns to my shoreline each year. It takes flight. The geese stop in mid-crossing. They see me step onto the deck and know from experience that I do not welcome them. (The lawn maintenance crew had threatened to cease tending the grass because their equipment would slide across the lawn and down toward the water on the aggregate of weekly gifts from the geese). I make noises that would embarrass me should anyone see/hear, and they turn toward the opposite shore. I continue to refill the bird feeders. I see lilac blooming again! Magnolia buds peek above the fence. Is my coffee laced – or are weather-related events as unpredictable and topsy-turvy as my own life day today?

I realize over the weekend that I will not get the house on the market this year; everything has taken longer than expected, exacerbated by the unexpected. If I did not know that I get a paycheck every other week, I would swear that I was unemployed and impoverished by the myriad of money-draining activities related to moving. On Saturday, I awoke neurotically worried that with all that has taken place, I needed to check the storage lockers that now house most of my possessions. By 7 a.m., I was back in bed, wishing for sleep, but daydreaming and checking mental lists instead.

On this last day of August, I decide to take the local roads to work in Schenectady. Within two miles of home, I pass two of my favorite ice-creameries (Sisters and Shirley’s Stoney Creek; both have been mobbed this year as usual). Approaching SUNY Cobleskill, I grit my teeth as college teens jaywalk, dawdle, cell, text and read while crossing Route 7. Should there be classes in Highway Crossing at institutes of higher learning, I wonder. That thought — and others unprintable — soon fade as I pass the beautiful Gables B&B, owned and operated by John O’Donnell and his wife Marilyn Janiczek. A real showplace that blossoms, or twinkles depending on the season. It is also the home of their brainiac kids (they hate that moniker), Genie, who just left for Yale, and Tim, who took Brown by storm, interned at Google and now is a research scientist working at D.E. Shaw Research trying to find a cancer cure. They’ve made the whole county proud!

Down the road, I pass All About Frames. I will miss owners Jaime and Earl and others who have befriended me for better and worse over the past five years, including the team at Stella Motors, which remains in awe of the most commonsensical things I never learned about cars.

Continuing, I pass the Dairy Deli, the first restaurant I frequented when I moved to this area and a venue that continues to offer the very best in Thai food. I avoid the local donuteries; we disagree on what constitutes “freshness.” By the time I reach the intersection of Route 145, I am hungry and decide on the quick-way to work after all.

I realize I am just minutes away from the excellent Taste of Europe, and the historic and award-winingGeorge Mann Tory Tavern. But, it’s only 7:30 a.m. and although preparations are under way for the day’s fare, I would not be welcomed. Even after I move, I hope to return to them as well as the Old Stone Fort Museum complex and Cooper’s Ark Farm, a working farm and really neat petting zoo with the only handicapped accessible hay wagon I’ve ever heard of. I did a story on it years ago. Farmer Phil Metzger, who runs it with his wife Pam, is a regular at the Schenectady Greenmarket, and as infamous for his farm fresh eggs as for his off-beat humor.

I drive with mixed feelings about leaving the area. Its rolling hills, spectacular sunsets, and inviting forests and farms are easy on the eye and temperament and recall so many boyhood places filled with meaningful memories.

But now I know that I will be remain here for another winter — not my favorite time of year. Mentally, I calculate fuels costs, the price of fiercely aggressive tires and the stress of high winds and whiteouts along I-88.

Despite the gnaw of doubt, I drive knowing that I’m heading for Schenectady — for the long term — in spite of the dislocation, dis-ease, short-term stress and potential aloneness that the move represents.

I’ve learned too well that days are different at half-past sixty … but I will adjust because I choose to live a different life.

Bewildered blogger Thom O’Connor placed a call to Professor Barbara Brabetz of SUNY Cobleskill regarding his over-zealous, out-of-season blooming plants! He intends to ask about the geese as well: she is a well-known, Northeast birder and wildlife guide.


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