...and with these guys...who winnied and kicked and peed and pawed. I went out to the truck, my dad slept in the back of the van. Cait and Walter stuck it out in the barn. In the morning I was sitting in the truck looking out at Soj and the barn door slowly opened. Cait squeezed out with her hair all a mess and said with a cute smile, "Fresh as a daisy!"
33 miles and not a lot of sleep, but the rain and wind cleared and we ended up having a beautiful ride. Cait and Walter traded off riding on the bike and in the truck and my dad trailed in the van.
Back at Rick's in Jersey Shore, PA. Rick took Walter out on the tractor to cut rows through the corn field.
This old Golden Retriever would have gone all the way home with us if we would have let her. Her owners even came to get her and she escaped and showed up again later on down the road! This is on a beautiful road called Bolles Hill Road...our first NY road.
You know New York. You need New York. You know you need unique New York.
I was saying this tongue twister over and over to the rhythm of Soj’s hooves after we passed over the New York border. I didn’t even realize I was doing it right away, but that’s my brain for you.
Last night was tough. We are staying in a place over a bunch of dogs. One dog in particular (the one directly under us) barked in a non-stop, constant pattern. 2 barks, breath, 2 barks, breath…for hours.
At midnight I stood up and then kind of froze not knowing what my next move should be. Walter sat up and looked at me.
“Scalt”, I said, “I can’t sleep with this. Maybe I can take the truck down the road and sleep in it or maybe we can find a cheap motel or something. Can you sleep to this?”
He said he couldn’t sleep if I can’t sleep. We went down there and looked at the dog to see what in the world was bothering its little brain. It was a terrier sort of dog that was in a pen across from Sojourner. Soj popped his head over the side of his stall and watched us with sleepy eyes. I went over and gave him a pat and asked him for confirmation on how much this stinks.
We went back upstairs and I told Walter if he was able to sleep then I would try to sleep, too. I would just tell myself it’s only a sound and try to stay calm. We were lying there on the floor for about 10 minutes and then Walter stood up and started putting his coat on.
“You can’t stand it?” I asked.
“No. Now I can’t stand it. There’s got to be a reason it’s barking like this”.
He went down and I listened from where I was lying on the floor. It got a lot quieter. At first a bunch of dogs joined in with the barking circus game, but then it got quieter. Walter came back up and I asked what he had done. He said he found a couple of cans of dog food and fed them to the two dogs that were making the most noise. We were able to find a fan as well which helped when the little monsters decided to bark again.
Sometimes this ride is millimeters away from totally unbearable.
The owner of this dog breeding facility, mini cow farm, mini horse farm, etc. is great though. He owns a restaurant as well and had left a full dinner for us in the fridge (with the most incredible dark chocolate cake for dessert) and a bottle of red wine. He can’t help the barks. Little dogs bark. They always have, they always will. Why have they been created you ask? No earthly idea.
Mini horses, mini donkey...
Ah, I know some of you reading have sweet little dogs…I know they can be sweet, but right now they are not on my “things I love” list after last night.
It’s hard to be back on the road, back on a floor, back in the cold when we were just home. Yes, we were home…home at Danlin Hollow in Bath, NH. While staying at the house I woke up in the middle of the night and had no idea where I was. I was only wearing a little slip and looked around for something to put over me in case someone was outside the bedroom door. Then I realized I was home. Oh my goodness, I was home. It didn’t matter that I had a little slip on. And in fact, I could have gone and played on the piano before heading to the toilet if I wanted to even though it was 1am. I could do anything.
But Soj wasn’t outside which took away from the whole experience a little. I really didn’t want to see the house until Soj, Walter, and I stepped foot on the land together after so slowly riding there. It ended up being pretty wonderful though. Walter and I went back and forth about staying at the house, but finally came to the conclusion that it would just be too much to drive 5 hours back to NY after just driving there that morning. Plus, Caiti was at the house and Walter’s sister was able to get a day off from work and stay with us as well. The sun was out the next morning and the air was so warm. It was beautiful, perfect, home.
The back field where Soj will live has never looked so gorgeous. My dad has been cutting the field to get it ready for him and it is full of lush grass. The sun rose over the mountains and shone through the trees into the field where I stood with a cup of coffee, smiling.
“He’s going to be so happy here”, I thought.
Our reason for driving there is a sad one. A dear friend of Walter's and mine lost his 25-year-old brother a few days ago. We drove down for the funeral.
We stayed a day at the house and then drove back to NY the next day to start riding again. While I rode all I could think about was Tyson (our friend) and his strength. He spoke so clearly and so beautifully at the funeral. It’s hard to imagine what something like that feels like if you haven’t gone through it yourself. It’s too much, too hard, too unimaginable…but there he was in it, standing in front of a church recalling memories of his brother to share with all of the people listening.
Tyson said it helps so much to have friends and family around. He said he couldn’t imagine going through it alone. This is something I can relate to and I think most everyone can. Family and friends swoop in and wrap around us when we need it like a cocoon until we are ready to take off again. It's an incredible thing and although it often comes out of a very difficult time, it's still such a beautiful thing.
The human heart never ceases to amaze me. I was looking at all of the people in the church mourning, crying, relating in some way, imagining, wondering, and then thought about this amazing man who has connected them all who passed too soon.
We rode into a barn last night where a kind man showed us where to put Soj. He told me about his son who died at 9 years old. He said he is often asked how he remains so happy after living through the passing of his son. His philosophy is very simple. He feels only what the day he is in gives to him. He believes his son is somewhere waiting for him and he knows he would want him to be happy. Therefore he makes sure he approaches every day as it should be. New.
While we were in NH, Sojourner stayed with a wonderful family in Oneonta, NY. Before we left we took a little tour of their land on 4-wheelers. We only had a moment with this family but left knowing we will see then again. They had such open hearts and let us in instantly.
Staj with Sojourner before leaving Oneonta.
My sister has an incredible mind for beauty. Whether it be music, literature, art, land, or whatever else, she sees it and understands it. She told me I had to read this book, "Gilead". I have only read maybe 25 or so pages, but it is as beautiful as she said it would be already.
She makes good cakes, too. We made this while we were home. I made the peanut butter frosting. It was tasty, but I couldn't get it to fluff up!
There is one line that made my eyes water. It's very simple, but it really hit me for some reason. The father in the book is recalling a memory when his child and wife were outside under his bedroom window and he could hear their laughter float up to him. He writes, "Ah, this life, this world."
The author has not created a man who is unaware of the hardships of life, not unaware of racism, greed, ego, or aggression, and in fact, he is dying, but he can still hear laughter through a window and write, "Ah, this life, this world".
I found myself thinking about this book as well as I rode yesterday and then realized my brain had slipped into its routine of repeating a phrase to the pattern of Sojourner's footsteps.
This time it was "Ah, this life" (step step) "this world" (step).