For the second time in Korea I’ve been knocked horizontal by something nastier than a common cold. Everything ached; party season at Club Mountaingoat was reluctantly curtailed. My malaise was exacerbated by an injured rib from a fall a few weeks back: every cough was a blade through my chest. Then just as the rib seemed to be mending, I coughed so hard I threw out my lower back, an old injury that flares up once or twice a year to transform me overnight from Bear Grylls to Grandpa Simpson. As you know, I’m not the complaining type, so I withdrew from the world and stewed in anonymity.
Fortunately all this coincided with student vacations, but I still had to turn up every day to count the minutes getting chiselled from my lifespan by all the enforced sitting. Fortunately, also, I stocked up in America on Nyquil, among other pharmaceutical reality enhancers, which suppresses the coughing enough to sleep — deep and satisfying Nyquilised slumber like that the romantic poets enjoyed between verses.
Today the students are back, the corridors shuddering with their good-natured bloodcurdling shrieks (Korean girls — don’t get me started). I can’t tell you how much I missed them — seriously I can’t, because I didn’t. The rib is just about normal; the coughing persists; the ill humour remains terminal; I save the love poetry for my special someone. I have found my return to Korea to be much harder than anticipated as having a way out just makes my sentence seem more daunting. I have begun rationing the Nyquils, terrified of a return to an untranquilised Korean experience.
So here I am blogging again, sort of. Pictures mostly, a little flashback to a pleasant chapter in my New York Saga. Meanwhile, the cherry trees are budding and a new optimism drifts through the land like the first tender kiss of vernal joy!
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After the wedding and the dispersal of the quests I resumed my familiar state of vagrancy. My plans were vague at best: a few days upstate and a week or so down in NYC, then a fortnight in Cambodia and the prospect of sunshine and/or dyssentry. Now of course even these rudimentary parameters where jeopardised by Woman Trouble. I hate that shit.
Fortunately I still had some good people around. Fidget and I — and for some reason my newly married friends, who seemed just as aimless as I did — ended up at this great little farm near Saratoga Springs:
Wing Road Farm is owned by Aaren and Chris, aka Pouch & Nemo, friends of Dude & Trouble and Co. and accomplished hikers. They actually met on a trail, and she’s a Triple Crowner, meaning that she’s done the Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide Trails. Displaying the kind of hospitality commonly shown by and towards hikers, they took me in despite only meeting me at the wedding.
The farmhouse exudes character, as you’d expect from a building dating from the early 19th century. To quote from their website:
The farmhouse lot includes a woodlot of mixed hardwoods, a 1/4 acre fenced garden, a 50′ unheated greenhouse, a half-acre veggie patch, a couple fallow pastures and a young orchard of mixed fruits. They grow a wide variety of vegetables and herbs, shiitake mushrooms, flowers, and fruit. They tend a flock of 50 laying hens and 4 hives of bees.
The house is big and rambling, with so many rooms I got myself lost more than once. On arrival after our night-hike breakfast, I sank immediately into a deep armchair stupor. Unconsciousness is such a gift to the lovesick soul. Some time later — my chronology is hazy — I was given a quaint little bedroom upstairs. Chris is British, and there was a little English-Cornish dictionary in there. Fortunately his English is quite good and I never had to resort to it to understand him.
As you can see, Winter had settled in and seemed in no hurry to leave:
Inside, though, it was more than comfortable, and the log fire was always crackling. A jungle thrived at a window…
..and Mazoo, the farm cat (prone to tackling passersby when hungry, or head-butting bedroom doors open if ignored)…
..and Stella, the farm dog…
..seldom strayed far from the warmth.
These were deliciously lazy days. Most of the farm slumbered beneath a luxuriant winter blanket. I enjoyed a few rambles around the grounds with the camera, though I was always glad to get back inside.
The poultry seemed quite content, however:
Our homesteading hosts have even built a little hiking path, the Nemo Trail, through the woods behind the farmhouse. Dude & Trouble took Fidget and I on a brief tour one cold afternoon. Being softened up by too much citified living, we soon retreated to the fire.
Those days and nights have blurred together for me already into one nice hazy memory. I was comfortable and content, but, I’m afraid, a little mopey and preoccupied. There was some more socialising, and Fidget and I enjoyed a guided tour of Saratoga Springs…
..before Fidge had to return to Colorado (poor thing).
She at first found herself attempting the journey on foot…
..before seeing sense and reluctantly accepting a ride to Albany airport.
Then we settled back into farmhouse life, and running errands (one of them involved a marriage licence), and eating, and making coffee, and stoking the fire, in that beautiful wooden house with its creaking floors, its countless doors.
In my head, and somewhere deeper, a cacophony was brewing. Outside, the fields, the woods and even the road were quiet…
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote