We’d been driving for almost five hours when we finally got off the highway and began the last leg of the trip on country roads.  I’m always amazed at the beauty of the landscape in upstate New York.  This time of year it’s full, green and absolutely gorgeous.  I’m equally amazed at the variety of housing.  You see quaint little houses, large working farms, beautiful multifamily homes, double wide mobile homes and single wide trailers that have a variety of makeshift additions, some of which include blue tarp roofs and just about any type of rusty car part or farm equipment you can imagine on the front lawn.  The roads are well maintained and the hills leading to my sister’s home are the biggest I’ve ever driven.  When we got to the top and pulled in her driveway, we were greeted by their sweet, ten year old dachshund named Cassie, who instantly wanted to be petted and of course, I obliged.  After the initial hugs and “How was your trip” questions, we unloaded our luggage and had the next week to enjoy; how thankful I am for my sister's invite to unplug and visit.  I learned quite a bit too, some of which includes:

          Nothing beats the animal chatter at 7am, on a deck overlooking a pond, surrounded by cattails.  I was fascinated with the many different birds, toads, bull frogs, turtles and even the two deer who visited.  It was nature at its best.  I really wanted to see a bear, but that didn’t happen – next time maybe.  Most enjoyable was the absence of cars, trucks, construction, lawn mowers, and every other thing that invades the tranquility of nature – it was relaxing to say the least.

          Hay or Straw?  This may be an easy question for some of you to answer but quite honestly – I thought Hay was in rectangular bales and you sit on it on fall festival rides, and straw was – well, I kind of thought it was the same thing – just called something different (like groundhog and woodchuck – really, it’s the same animal).  While spending some girl time with my sister, her daughter-in-law and some friends, this topic came up.  I was thrilled to learn that I was not the only one who believed hay was a crop Farmers planted and thought that if it was in rectangular bales – it was used for bedding, and if it was in round bales - it was eaten by animals.  This was highly entertaining to some of the ladies who had several questions about why we thought what we thought.  We were asked where we get our straw when we need it:  My answer of “The only time I need straw is for my porch in October and there’s always a farm that sells it,” was overshadowed by the best answer of the day….”I buy my straws at the grocery store and drink out of them.”  Oh Gail, we are connected on a deeper level for sure!  ;)


          If you don’t have boys, live on a farm, or don’t live in the snow belt of New York – you may want to skip the next paragraph.

          There are several names for animal poop; cow pies – round flat cow waste;  cow chips – hard, dried cow waste; mouse scat; horse manure or road apples – just to name a few.  In frigid temperatures the manure still has to be scooped up and then put on the compost pile when weather permits.  The quote of the day was awarded to Sandy who exclaimed, “Oh, there’s nothing more fun than nailing someone with a frozen, horse poop ball.”  Yes, you read that correctly.  I asked her to repeat herself and just about died laughing.  She also received an honorable mention with informing us that she attended someone’s “showing”.  It took a few minutes for me to realize she meant “viewing.”  Oh how I love these girls!


          The two-hour, 4th of July parade at Chautauqua Lake was entertaining in itself, but the best was when several little boys on a float spotted our niece, their fourth grade teacher.  Their screams of "Mrs.  Claypoole!  Mrs. Claypoole!" caused all around to not only laugh, but wonder who the celebrity was in our midst; and their attempt to shower her with candy (which landed about 20 feet away) was fun to watch.

          The laughs over the sentence, “No, THIS week is Shark Week”, won’t soon be forgotten,  the hours of watching my nephew interact with his 4 ½ month old son; and being able to hold that sweet little boy are memories that will make me smile many times over I’m sure.        

          It really is about the moments.  The everyday, silly, friend filled, tongue twisted, beautiful serene moments that make our lives worth living.  Take the time to cherish the moments; but more importantly, make sure you are IN the moment – Facebook posts and Instagram pictures can wait – our friends and family shouldn’t have to.

“There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.”
— Deuteronomy 12:7


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