Goodbye to All That . . .
In Western New York, seasons do not arrive or depart according to a calendar date. You learn not to expect spring on March 21, but weeks later, with the appearance of the first daffodil or forsythia buds. On the upside, summer usually makes an appearance long before June 21 while the downside is the possibility of snow on Halloween. In fact, that’s happened three times in the 18 years I’ve lived here.
My summer this year started on May 1, when I opened a blank page on my computer and typed “Part II.” A couple hundred pages later, I finished the first draft of a novel, as well as a dozen or so first drafts of poems I may or may not renovate. Thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, I didn’t have to be a Kelly Girl or part-time professor. I got to be a writer for four straight months and I’ve loved every second of it.
While we’re still more than three weeks from the first day of fall on the calendar, there are signs that autumn is already here: last weekend’s long line of cars in front of the dorms at the University of Rochester, for example. The ripe beefsteak tomato on my fire escape garden. The temperature that feels more football than baseball The perceptible difference in the light at the end of the day—no longer the white heat of summer, but the gold of autumn.
Damn. I’m not ready for this summer to end.
Mad Dash Home
My residency in Nebraska City ended on August 7 and rather than going south to visit a friend of long-standing in Illinois, I decided to drive to my dad’s house—what my mother used to call a “mad dash home.” I don’t know exactly what constitutes an MDH in time and/or distance, but it pretty much means driving a very long way in one day to get HOME. Which is what I did. After dropping a fellow resident off at the Omaha airport, I pointed my car east on Interstate 80 and drove the 700-hundred odd miles from Nebraska to Michigan. Except for a driving rain that followed me through Iowa and western Illinois, a massive traffic jam west of Joliet, and the general yuck around Chicago, it was just fine.
Admittedly, a little mad, though. I’m a driving fool.
A Trip Through Life
The last day of my residency, I went Dinty Moore's for lunch. DM’s is a tiny little Nebraska City institution consisting of an old oak bar, two fans that would probably do very well on “Antiques Roadshow,” and the best shredded beef sandwiches I’ve ever tasted. Now I don’t do a lot of beef, but when in Rome, you must eat beef with the Romans. Or something . . . .
Anyhow, the waitress/bartender. Linda, asked me where I was from and when I told her I lived in Western New York, she said she’d never been there, but she’d like to visit some day because she’d heard the Finger Lakes were beautiful. “But you know,” she said, “I think every place has its own beauty. You just have to be able to see it.”
I started writing this as a travel blog about my trip to and from Nebraska. And so, since life is a trip, I’ll keep on writing about the places it takes me. Try to see the beauty that’s there.