Sarah Avery (dr_pretentious) wrote,
Sarah Avery

Outings and Inlets

After a week of 90+ degree days, drenching humidity, and dire public health warnings about heat and air quality, I decided it was time to get my baby the hell out of New Jersey to someplace where I could take him outside without exposing him to deadly peril. A kid who's learning to walk shouldn't be stuck indoors all the time. Five hours' drive north and inland, everything's different. Everything's cool and green. And damp, but damp's much better at 74 degrees than at 94.

So here we are in Forestport, the Adirondack village where my father grew up--a place where the rapids on the Black River are the predominant sound. My mother, who is also in retreat from air quality advisories in D.C., is the only other relative staying at the old family homestead right now. On Fourth of July weekends every year, the place is just crawling with our fellow Averys. That's some delightful chaos, but this quiet is lovely, too.

It was too rainy for swimming, so we spent the day driving up into the big state park, past lakes and lakes and lakes, and over the Big Moose River, to a quilt supply shop in the tiny town of Inlet on the Fulton Chain. I've accompanied my mother to a lot of quilt supply shops, but the Black Bear Trading Post is the first one I've been to with a lake view. Take a look at the castle-shaped tote bag she's quilting for Gareth, and remember how magical it would have been to your pre-school-age self. Gareth's will have penants and a fire-breathing dragon. My mom is the best grandma ever.

She's also a model hermit-artist this summer. Since D.C. got too hot and smoggy for her lung condition, she's been up here in Forestport, quilting. "Sometimes five hours go by at the sewing machine before it occurs to me to look at my watch," she said when I asked if she'd been lonely. "I've been so happy, having no one else to please but myself most days." And every week or two, other Averys come around to breathe and swim for a couple of days, so she hasn't been totally alone. I envy her a little. The summer I came up alone for a few weeks to write was one of the happiest of my life. That's the kind of thing I won't be doing again for...I don't want to think about how many years. Parenthood is great fun, but it has its costs, and the costs are shifting all the time.

I had a crazy notion that I'd be able to hand Gareth off to my mother sometimes so that they could play together and I could get some writing done. You know how kids get separation anxiety when they're learning to walk, as a sort of evolutionary safety measure to keep them from wandering off? The closer Gareth gets to independent mobility, the more it freaks him out if I'm out of sight even for a moment. Ah, well. Writing time, here as at home, begins when everyone else has gone to bed.

It's still a big win to be here, in a house where nobody lives year round. Since it's not any one person or family branch's territory, all the kinfolk take care to leave it as neat as they found it. I clean up after myself and my kid, help my mom with the shared mess, and then I'm done. In my own house, everywhere I look there's a years-deep backlog of imagined repairs and improvements that I could be spending my time on, and there's clutter I could be tidying, so that even when I am writing after everyone's gone to bed, I have to put a lot of energy into walling off those distractions.

Here, as at home, it's hard to produce more than half a page a day of the Ria story. So frustrating. At least I'm getting that much consistently, now that the pneumonia's well and truly over. I just have to remind myself that that's the pace that finished the dissertation, and I'm having a lot more fun with half a page a day of Ria.
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