A Journey Back Home

I did something this morning I haven’t been able to do for a few weeks.

I took Daisy and Jasper for a long walk through the woods and around our farm. I left my suit coat and tie hanging in the closet, pulled on my work boots and blue jean jacket, and took stock of what had happened during my preoccupation with the Arts & Crafts Conference. One of the dead sycamore trees in the horse pasture had dropped a couple of major limbs, splintering a few more fence boards and making an even larger mess around the trunk. But the dead branches will provide firewood for next winter, and some well-needed physical activity for me.

We left the woods and took a long lap around our hay field, bordered on one side by a rocky trout stream and two others by a blacktop road. By the time we had finished, Jasper was worn out and my pockets were bulging with trash. I can understand robbery easier than I can understand littering. People who are broke and hungry can do desperate things, but how someone who has just finished a Big Mac and a Diet Coke can simply roll down their car window and toss their Styrofoam containers out onto the shoulder of the road perplexes me.

And these are people who, judging by the consistency of their trash, drive this road regularly. Do you think they take some sense of accomplishment in seeing the trash they threw out yesterday and the day before piling up on the grassy roadside? Is it a game to see how if they can hit yesterday’s plastic cup with today’s? For several weeks last summer it was a daily balled-up baby diaper, tossed in nearly the same spot every day. Was someone changing the baby’s dirty diaper each day as they drove to daycare, or did they make it a point to pick up their car keys, their wallet or purse, their cell phone or pager, and last night’s dirty diaper has they headed out the door?

After ten years of living here, my neighbors still cannot make sense of me. A dairy farmer to the south, a tomato farmer to the west, they still give me quizzical looks driving by as they see me at different times of the day, walking the dogs, playing with my Kubota tractor, cutting firewood, kicking dirt clods or just picking up trash. It’s what I often do when my brain freezes and I need to work out a problem I’m having with the conference or my next writing project. They think I’m throwing sticks in the bucket of my tractor, but what they don’t realize is that I’m picking the best speakers for next year’s conference or selecting the right exhibitor for a vacancy in the show. As I’ve mentioned before, my best ideas rarely occur sitting in front of my keyboard.

I’ve got a day to start unpacking plastic crates and boxes from the conference before some long-delayed projects need to be started. I have promised to complete an appraisal of the Grove Park Inn’s collection of antiques in the next few weeks, coupled with a road trip for some television appearances for Minwax, and a weekend in Illinois with my parents.

But like picking up sycamore branches or baby diapers, it will give me a chance to start thinking about next February’s Arts & Crafts Conference.

Until next Monday,

Have a great week!

– Bruce