Up on Hawthorn Hill by Richard deRosa: Quite a week on hill, on road, in air

Up on Hawthorn Hill
by Richard deRosa:
Quite a week on hill,
on road, in air

It has been quite a week. Some of it up on the hill, a few days in Maine to pick up our grandson Grant from camp, then a round-trip flight to Oregon to deliver him safely home.

The week started with my sitting down in the barn, a tray on my lap into which I was shaving off oregano leaves from stems that had been drying for several weeks. I remember thinking, strange as it might seem to some, ‘how could life be any better?’

Oregano is the spice I use far more than any other on those rare occasions when I cook, there was something pleasantly thought-provoking, while sitting enshrouded in a comforting cloud of oregano vapors. I guess a guy gets his thoughtful moments as best he can, even in the oddest of places. Although the barn, where several bunches of parsley swing from nails on the roof rafters, soon to be followed by the last of this year’s red onion crop, has become a redoubt of sorts where I often rest after working in the gardens. Some days, it is a quiet place to snatch a quick snooze. On others, it functions as an alternate “room of my own,” despite having a spacious study, where just sitting quietly seems to salve the soul. A kind of soft power wash of the soul!

The next day, buoyed by my aromatic oregano memories, we headed for Maine to pick up our grandson. We opted to spend the night in Albany, since our first flight of three departed very early in the a,m. When talking to our son, Tim, earlier in the week I said I looked forward to spending time with Grant, albeit on a plane. In my head, since we would either be in the air or wandering about terminals for several hours, we would have lots of time to chat. My son suggested I stop being delusional, since for the first time in four weeks he would have his “devices.” Well, he was partly right. He did revisit his electronic pals for lengthy spates of time, but we did chat quite a bit. We talked about the activities he enjoyed the most and how much he looked forward to returning next summer. One thing he emphasized looking forward to most was being in his own room again, which he did with a vengeance.

The next day, he barely surfaced, an extravagance not allowed by his father the next day, since we were to take granddad on a promised mountain bike ride. Both of my boys are experienced mountain bikers. The idea of an initiatory bike ride was my idea. This from someone who bought a hybrid bike at least three years ago, rode it for no more than 20 minutes the day he bought it, and has not been on it since. Until moving it down to the barn, it hung upside down from the garage ceiling functioning most often as a drying rack for sweaty gardening and gym workout clothes.

About that long-awaited mountain bike ride. It started easily enough. After getting to the parking lot and unloading the bikes, I pedaled around the lot to enliven my long-dormant biking legs and balance. All seemed well. My son had picked the easiest of all the trails – flat, few bumps, a root or two here and there. However, he never mentioned having to pass between narrowly

separated trees, some no more and a foot or two apart – or so it seemed. On the first pass through I slowed, balanced myself through with one foot on terra firma, and made it. About 50 yards down the trail, my son urging me to focus ahead and not slow down, I approached a very narrow space between two junipers. Not sure what happened, but I panicked, hit the brakes midway through, bike and old man hitting the moon dust trail with a thud.

Unfortunately, my son had been following me closely enough that he could not stop in time. So down he went as well. After dusting off and inspecting my body for wounds — a few minor ones, I had the strangest sensation. For the first time in my 77-plus years I felt old. Fortunately, that feeling has passed and I have been reminded by several friends it could have happened to anyone, experienced or not, of any age. Still, the feeling, however ephemeral, bites a bit. Got my gumption back shortly, so the ride back to the lot went more smoothly.

In the early hours of the next morning, I boarded the first of three flights for the trip back home. The first leg arrived in Salt Lake City with minutes to spare until getting the connecting flight. Several of us scampered through the terminal, arriving within seconds of departure.

I texted my son and grandson I had made it notwithstanding the wounds inflicted the day before.
As I write, I look forward to being in the barn shortly hanging red onions, tying up more bunches of oregano and parsley, and gathering up my wits for the next bike ride. It may be a while.

I suspect that would be Gabby’s advice were she here.


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