In recent months, life on the farm has included some activities that I never envisioned myself doing. The trash situation was slightly out of control, and since most of it was mine after a pointless juice fast, I used a wheelbarrow to load the soggy mess into the back of my pickup truck.
While the exercise would’ve done me good, there was no way I was going to successfully maneuver the wheelbarrow over the blown-out dirt road to the garbage shed. It goes against my urban mentality to drive anywhere for only five city blocks, but it was a pragmatic country moment, and maybe I really am developing a little bit of know-how in that department. Or I was just clever in context.
Either way, I laughed to myself at the complexities of trash duty, and how different my life has become. Schlepping garbage down from my fourth-floor walk-up was a definite walk in the park compared to this. As I was struggling with the lock on the shed, which is almost as difficult as heaving the bags from the truck ino the trash cans, a close friend of mine from Washington, D.C., called. Since I knew she’d find the whole wheelbarrow situation hilarious, I decided to indulge her. Telling her proved difficult though, as she could hardly hear me with the background competition of “baa-ing” sheep, turkeys, chickens, and roosters.
“Where are you?” she asked, in an incredulous tone, “home?” Yes, I told her, I was on the farm and having flashbacks to our Labor Zionist Socialist hippie summer camp, which was modeled on a kibbutz, and where we had actual work jobs. She was silent for a few seconds, and then we busted loose laughing. For amusement purposes, I took a photo of the scene for her from my phone. Ever succinct, her e-mail response was one line, “I can’t believe this is where you live.”
A few months ago, I thought the same thing. It’s amazing what time can do. The unexpected is my new norm, or is it that routine has set in, and my senses have been dulled. No longer afraid of the dark (okay, not quite), I now take walks at night without a flashlight. When I first moved here, I was too freaked out by the country to walk alone in the dark. Heading home down Avenue C at 3 a.m. doesn’t faze me; however, the absence of streetlights here was disconcerting. Making myself do it was half the battle, but I was prompted by the biggest lifestyle change I’m currently facing: In the city, I probably walked a minimum of four miles daily, and that was just to get around. Living out in the country means driving, and lots of it. Put it together, and the downside of this is painfully obvious. My fear of the dark has been usurped by the need to fit into my pants. Perhaps divulging this in print will be the ultimate motivator.
What I can’t change is the mud in my driveway. There’s lots of it, and not to sound too much like a city girl, but it’s wrecking my shoes. So, instead of wearing my cowboy boots to the truck (and yes, I did purchase them in Manhattan), I slip on my 14-year-old boy identity-crisis Vans, which are much better suited to the muck.
While walking to the truck one day, the goose contingent waddled by, and I noticed that one of them looked peculiar. Its feathers were totally disheveled, almost windblown. My housemate laughed when I told her I thought one of the geese was sick with mange or something. Apparently, the just-rolled-out-of-bed look is coveted, and that is one fancy and expensive goose. When a new gang of spotted turkeys ran by not long ago, I wasn’t really surprised. But when the dogs were kept inside to prevent them from eating a recently killed deer, I was floored. While I’m all for outlaw behavior, when it comes to dead animals, I have my limits. And that also applies to hunting. It took me a few seconds to figure it out, but at the start of duck season, I heard gunshots before bed. Fortunately, that didn’t happen on Avenue C.
There is one major danger on the farm involving me and the fireplace. My housemates are fearless, and although I’ve watched them both start a fire, I’m wary of doing so. A few weeks ago, I was supposed to tend the fire in case some logs fell out while they were gone. Their paranoia seemed unwarranted for about an hour, and then that’s exactly what happened. My attempt to put the log back resulted in me stepping on another ember that somehow also landed on the hardwood floor. When I told my housemate about it later, I was relieved to inform her that my burnt sock was the sole casualty.
Leaving me unchaperoned in front of the fire is probably a bad idea, but I took great pride in utilizing my city girl skills to surpass one of the coolest country girls I know at work. This is a woman who can jerry-rig anything, has a very positive can-do attitude, and drove herself home from work while in the beginning throes of labor. This same woman was rendered helpless by a four-inch dead mouse. At first I thought she was joking when she ran away from her desk with a hand over her mouth. When I realized she could not handle it, I swooped in Manhattan-style. Armed with copies of The Star, I picked up the sad, bloated mouse from the floor, and escorted it outside to the trash. City girls can be badass too, just in a different way.
After a recent weekend in the city, I exited the train in East Hampton to an almost full moon, and an intense stillness. Bright stars filled the sky, I breathed in fresh air, and it was beautiful. Slowly but surely, I’m getting it.
Heather Dubin is a reporter at The Star.