SUGAR LOAF, NY __ She is reading the real estate section while I’m drinking coffee and looking out the kitchen window, daydreaming. The fruit trees out back are covered in white blossoms. Behind us, Sugar Loaf Mountain rises above the tree line.
“We are home,” I am thinking.
In fact, after a decade away, we are just back, having let our ambitions for college and careers lead us away to Boston, Washington, Atlanta… anywhere. Tired of the travels and the corporate nonsense pecked out by gray-flannel executives, my impulse was to seek out something familiar.
“I want to go home,” I told her a year ago.
“Tell me what that means,” she said.
At the time, I didn’t know.
In fact, we had a home in East Atlanta but the South never felt right. The summers were too hot; the winters too gray. So we sold the place, quit our jobs, and packing a U-Haul, headed north to New York and Sugar Loaf.
“I know these hills,” I told her.
As a boy, I learned the patterns of the seasons watching Glenmere Lake frost over before freezing rock solid. In the spring, Glenmere thawed, and with the summer sun, began teeming again with reeds, tadpoles, and water lilies. Over and over, there is a rhythm to it. Birth, life, death. It’s funny how you forget these lessons, these patterns of nature and how they’re tattooed on your soul.
I’m remembering now. In fact, my memory, like that old lake – after a long winter – is now thawing, renewing. The important things seem more apparent. Life is circular.
Our fathers lived here and belonged to the land. They grew up along these roads, living between the harvests, fishing the Glenmere waters, watching the seasons fade.
Now, it’s our turn.
Orange County is busier – there are many more cars and houses – but many of their landmarks remain.
In Goshen, the clock tower of the First Presbyterian still glows over the village green; in Sugar Loaf, the bell tower of the First Methodist still sings in the late mornings; and in Warwick, the Reform Church still bookends the village.
Outside our home, a woodpecker hammers out Morse code against a white oak tree. Chipmunks sprint across the lawn. In the distance, woodchucks tunnel mazes beneath Seligmann’s cornfield.
Last week, while racing along Hambletonian Road, I was surprised by a wild turkey standing in the roadway. I slowed enough to watch him bob into the brambles along the roadside. He was lean with flannel-gray feathers; winking slightly, he disappeared into the brush.
I’ve been meaning to talk to her about my roadside encounter, but this morning I’m busy studying the daylight.
“There’s an old farm house for sale in Rhinebeck,” she says.
I sip my coffee and, contemplating the falling blossoms, say nothing. She stares at me.
“What?” she says, smiling.
“In a few months,” I say, “the deer will begin eating from those fruit trees.”
“We should be here for that, shouldn’t we?”
“Yes, we should.”