The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Post Time August 25, 2015

We live in a racing town, but we’ve only been to the track a couple of times. The first time I went I was without Elihu, and I bet on “Those Were the Days” (a nod to the song my son and I used to sing as we walked the Saratoga streets in the summertime) – and I won. My latest trip to the track didn’t involve betting, but I got to sing a tune with a local band. And that was a win for me. Not a big deal in reality, but symbolically it had meant something to me. After seven years here, I finally got to sing with some trad musicians. A slow start to what I have a hunch will be a fast-tracked year for us here in Greenfield. The Studio has come a long way and will make its debut in the end of September. And as unprepared as I may feel about it, my twelve year old son is soon to start seventh grade, and that alone means big changes are underway. I feel a sort of subterranean rumbling in my life at the moment…. I can’t cite any one thing in particular, but rather it’s an amalgam of many small changes that contribute to this swelling of possibility that I feel underfoot. I still feel I have no idea what it is that I’m doing, or quite understand where I’m going – how my life will look in a year’s time. But a tiny voice tells me things will be very different. Sometimes I feel like nothing’s really changed over the past few years here in my small country life, but a snapshot from just one year ago this time shows otherwise.

This week we released our wild-caught captive frogs, we enjoyed a night of beautifully performed music and gave away a whole lot of old stuff that’s been cluttering up our garage for a long time. Trepidation always gnaws at me as I move through my days, but still, I can’t help but feel like I’m making headway here. Headway towards just what, exactly? Thing is, I really don’t know. It just feels like we’re at the starting gate, and the gun is about to go off…

IMG_0021At the literal starting gate here, where horse number nine threw its rider, causing the crowd to roar… You could feel the anticipation of the race in the air.

IMG_0016We’re about as close to the action as one could hope to get, but unfortunately, that doesn’t really help my Achromat. He’s obliging me by being here. He sees very little of the horses.

IMG_0039Although it’s a pretty penny to get into the box section, this gal talked her way in effortlessly. I meant to show Elihu the elegance and thrill of the ‘other’ side of the track; private boxes, computer monitors, $25 flutes of champagne, and high-stakes betting. I’ve been told that the money the ‘downstairs’ folks bet is often called ‘stupid money’, because the bets are made based on the names of the horses alone (look at me, case in point!) and it’s the stupid money that funds those who know what they’re doing. The folks who sit here.

IMG_0041Not a lot maybe, but way too rich for me.

IMG_0042The red and white awnings everywhere make me dizzy.

IMG_0044These gentlemen are playing with the ‘stupid money’ to make their fortunes.

IMG_0069Ah, but this is why we’re here. Sang ‘I’m Confessin’ (for the first time in over seven years!) at a bright clip, forgot a line but filled it with the usual shtick, and enjoyed myself more in those two minutes than I have in a loooong time.

IMG_0238We finally went to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra. Saw this Rolls in the artists’ parking lot. Must belong to the tuba player, right?

IMG_0240Ah, SPAC. Thanks to Elihu’s visual situation, we’re always entitled to front row seats. Amazing. Grateful are we!!!

IMG_0241Hey look! It’s Carol!!

IMG_0250Enjoying some surprisingly tasty fries while listening to Tchiakovsky. Say what? Uber dope!

IMG_0252Conductor Yannik overflows with enthusiasm, love and gratitude for the music and the musicians.

IMG_0257Even got a little post-concert hang with tubist Carol Yantsch! (Turns out the Rolls wasn’t hers.)

IMG_0198There’s a little more excavational action at the Studio to finish up. Daryn waves to the camera.

IMG_0215My buddy Al assesses the too-tall stack. Come on, plumbers, ya charge me an arm and a leg then I have to finish the job myself? Al simply pulled a run of the mill saw out of the cab, marked it off…

IMG_0217…and had Daryn saw it down to size. Details, details. So many, yet each one is important.

IMG_0096The power went out one night. Threw most of my neighbors into a tizz. Me, I spend some time enjoying my piano. I positively reveled in the first-ever black of night outside my door. Gone were the annoying and ever-present ‘dusk to dawn’ lights that country folks often like to install by their garages, and which prevent true night from ever falling.

IMG_0090The chipping sparrows returned a couple of weeks ago, and this is their final clutch for the season before they head north. Look at this adorable open-mouthed baby! Feed me indeed!

IMG_0151This is the baby. He still has a bit of that pouty look – his ‘lips’ kind of turn down, and he’s more streaked than mom and dad. Tiny and so friggin cute.

IMG_0164Indulge me, if you will, in a little more nature talk. An ordinary lawn chair, right? Look closely at the bottom of the two center bars…

IMG_0167What’s this? Hay sticking out of a hole?? An accident perhaps?

IMG_0179Certainly not! It’s the work of a very industrious wasp whose labor I’ve watched for weeks. I don’t really want to share my chair with her, but how an I undo all of her domestic efforts? I can’t. This chair will remain unused til next year. (See how she carries that grass while in flight! I for one am very impressed.)

IMG_0052Mom and I spent hours upon hours going through the WWII trunk of Martha Carver’s husband, Francis.

IMG_0069Frank on the left, son Rob on the right…

IMG_0065Little Robbie then… and now!

IMG_0014The Studio still feels like it’s miles from completion, but we’re getting there.

IMG_0015A memento of years gone by…

IMG_0161Ancient Annie comes by the Studio as she has for the past sixteen years, and checks out our progress. I think she approves of the new kitchen.

IMG_0190Elihu and grandma admire the newest tomato. Look at this photo and notice: these two people are just about the same height. I just noticed this now. Holy crap, when did this happen. ??

IMG_0119I left the door open for a moment, and the girls just lhad to inspect the new porch.

IMG_0213Happy snail, happy fish. (Ok, if not ‘happy’, then at least virtually stress-free.)

IMG_0222One of twelve ‘happy’ frogs that live in our pond.

IMG_0057We finally released the tree frogs we caught last spring.

IMG_0025I’m thinking they’re pretty happy about that!

IMG_0096A last look. Thank you! We enjoyed having you around. Happy ‘torpor-ing’ – see you next year.

IMG_0098Back to the bottom line. After a full roster of events and day trips, there’s no place like home. We’re always  happy to let the race go on without us for a while.

 

 

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