Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly Away Home

I took a vacation in the first week and a half of August–headed out to Vermont with my son, M, and my partner, H. We drove out (plane tickets to BVT are incredibly expensive, and we thought this could be a great adventure). Well, it was a great adventure, and it was lovely to see my parents and spend a little time among the Eastern trees.  The smell of the mountain air–the maples and birches, mosses and hemlocks, the acid soil–mmmm.

Spent my birthday there–went trout fishing with dad and M and his cousins–no one caught anything, but I picked a ton of wild blueberries and blackberries along the shore of Goshen Dam.  M got annoyed with me constantly repeating the name of the campground up there: MOOSALAMOO!

Yeah, I know you want to holler it, too.

Brought the good camera and got a few nice images–a good thing since my phone’s memory is full, so any image I take must be uploaded to the ‘nets right away–and there’s no cell signal on the mountain. Sort of hoped to see a bear, but didn’t. Considering I had gleaned all the shoreline berries, it’s probably better I didn’t.

Coming down from the mountain, my phone was plinging and jingling with birthday wishes–nice to be remembered by so many (and yes, Facebook makes remembering a lot easier). Considering we were headed back west the next morning, I turned my phone off when I went to bed, so the plinging and jingling didn’t disturb our rest.

Woke at 6 the next morning, peeked out the window and saw my dad was still home, so I ran downstairs to give him a hug before he left for work. He went out to get the morning paper, and I turned on my phone.

And found out my house had burned in the night.

We left at about 10:30am to drive back.  I took the wheel for a little over an hour–kind of calming except that calls and messages kept coming in, so H took the wheel and I talked to the deputy, the dispatcher, the insurance guys, the fire marshal, etc., etc. and answered messages on FB and gave updates about our approximate position.  We tend to think our Western states are so enormous, but driving from Albany to Buffalo, NY is nothing to sneeze at.

Arrived in South Dakota about 2:30 in the afternoon the next day, spent the night, and then said goodbye to H and hit the road with M toward Big Stone County. Dropped him with his dad, then headed over to the house to meet with the fire marshal, sheriff’s deputy, and insurance adjuster.

They let me in for a few minutes to grab some valuables, and that was my first look. It was so black in the kitchen from the soot, boarded up windows, and crap on the floor that I could hardly find my footing.  Everything’s smoked and sooty, but it’s hard to tell what is actually lost and what might be salvageable.

But it’s a sure bet that, because of where it was stored and where the fire was centered, most of my food preservation equipment is toast. It’s a small (and I do mean small) blessing that before I left, I brought my fermentation book, my 2 gallon Red Wing crock, pickling salt, last year’s garlic, a plate, and a stockpot out to the farm to assist in the preservation of my pickling cukes, which just started bearing in the days before I left.  We sampled one yesterday when we added the next batch of cukes–better than the ones I’ve made from the old recipe in my other book that’s now blackened.

Except for my brief foray in to see the damage and grab a few items, I won’t be able to get back in until Monday at the earliest. I’m incredibly thankful for all the kind words and offers of support from friends and acquaintances–it’s such a blessing to live in a good community.

I’m not sure exactly how I’ll move forward at this time.  I am staying with my friends out on Borrowed Farm–halfway between Clinton and Ortonville and with my big production garden.  Starting Monday (if I can get in), I’ll probably start clearing out and cleaning some stuff. When I get my head around what needs doing and what needs replacing, I’ll put out the call for any help that can be given.

In the meantime, we’re heading to the garlic festival in Hutchinson, and will probably make and can salsa on Sunday. Another sometimes tenant of the farm, our chef Spencer, was cooking and canning peaches when I arrived from my odyssey, and the smell of those spices and the hum of activity was a real comfort.

I was fed well (a usual here), had a couple of beers, and picked fifty or so slicing cukes.  A bed was made up for me, and I slept with Sophie (aka Fat Cat), who despite warnings did not attempt to eat my face–she just kept my feet warm.  I stayed up a little too late–I think because while it’s pretty common for me to be on the farm for dinner, it was really strange not to be going home.

In another day or so, I’ll be able to pick up Vega from the kennel in Milbank.  My hosts have just the right mix of solicitousness and wry humor about the situation.  Despite the trauma, it’s good to be back home in Big Stone County.



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