The gypsies have put down roots in Keene, New Hampshire for a total of eleven weeks, which began June 8. The primary objective of this longest-of-stays is ensuring Peter’s successful recovery from hip replacement surgery. Now, nearly three weeks post-op, I am happy to report that surgery went very well and Peter is on the positive curve toward full recovery. The daily progress is astounding and serves to remind us of the gifts of grace where God is in the details. Last week, Peter moved from the walker to his walking sticks during his bi-weekly PT session.
This is significant in two ways: first, he is about one week away from being cleared to navigate the stairs to the lower level of the house we are staying in where the big screen TV holds the promise of countless Red Sox games. And second, he is now able to complete his daily routine walks outside on the road, having been liberated from making dizzy circles around the living room and hallways. He began clocking himself and as of this morning he can cover just under a mile in 25 minutes, marking a huge improvement in just one week in his strength and stamina.
Being outside for his walks allows Peter to witness first hand the lovely gardens in this neighborhood where we are staying. His gardener’s soul is nourished by seeing the daylilies in bloom at the neighbor’s house, the endless varieties of annuals from zinnias to impatiens that fill front beds. We take daily outings in the truck, some of which are quite practical and include trips to the grocery store where Peter practices getting into and out of the passenger seat in the truck, talking out loud about just what he is doing as he re-trains the muscles as they continue making their aquaintance of the new hip.
Today’s outing was a sensory delight providing the visual for the personal obligations and memories that came up as we traveled along. We headed over the Connecticut River into Vermont, which in summer lives up to its name, “green mountain. Vermont is a lush jungle this summer since spring rains and abundant sun early in June raised the expectations of the hardwood trees and grasses and wildflowers that this would be a banner season for showy displays. It is.
We were headed to the town of Newfane, Vermont which is picture-perfect and filled with lots of history for Peter. Generations of his ancestors lived near here as far back as the eighteenth century. Our dearest friends know of what we affectionately call the “dead Howes tour” where it is possible to visit one of his ancestor’s headstone which lists he served in the Revolutionary War: right, that one with England from 1775.
The cemetery in Newfane where Peter’s mother and father are buried is a tiny, nearly overgrown place right along a hemlock row and a chain link fence that marks the border with what claims to be the “original” Newfane Flea Market. We haven’t been here in two years and since then, the sumac and the wild cherry tree seem to have decided this is their land for the taking. We decided that before we leave New England in August, we may need to return with some hedge clippers and conduct some vigilante pruning.
We walked around the picturesque town square and along the street where Peter’s great aunt lived and who he visited back in the 1950s when Newfane was not as tony and not filled with cars with New York license plates, like today. We passed the Four Columns Inn where the locals know that Mick Jagger came here for a weekend back in the ancient days when he was married to Bianca. Our personal memory is much less glamorous and includes a Thanksgiving dinner here in 2003 with my son and his then-fiance that included a sweet potato casserole that I still remember.
We stopped at the Grafton Village Cheese Store in Brattleboro, one of the must-stop places in this part of New England. Today was cheese tasting day and if you love cheese, this is simply nirvana. From a 9-year old cheddar that is so dry that it crumbles before it hits your taste buds, to a delectable and spicy quince mustard made just up the road in Vermont, this is the place to sample the best of the best locavore foods. Oh, and by the way, you can check out some primo kayaks on the roof-top of some classy SUVs from flatlanders who are shopping in the store.
The time here in New Hampshire has been rounded out with family reunions including 4th of July with our nephew who lives in Chile and who came north for three weeks; celebrating the high school graduation of our oldest grandchild; my mother’s 94th birthday; and countless other rich and wonderful times with our New Hampshire friends and family. We won’t get to see everyone who we dreamed of seeing, nor complete all the items on our “to-do” list but it will all be good. And we have started the planning of our imminent return to the road, around the time of the August eclipse, which must have some celestial significance. If you have any idea about that, let us know!
Peace and all good things.
Peter and Liz are spending the summer in New Hampshire while Peter recovers from hip replacement surgery, and their Airstream enjoys a much-needed rest, before they hit the road again in late-August.