A winter morning
A winter morning

TO:

My mom and her friend Tori are visiting us from North Carolina. We spent several days in the city seeing the holiday sites: the tree at Rockefeller Center, the giant Swarovksi  crystal star on Fifth Avenue, and all of the shop windows full of beautiful, luxurious wishes and dreams. (For those of you who must know, the windows of Bergdorf Goodmen were the most wondrous this year by far. The windows depicted each of the four seasons, and I will swear that they stole the idea of seasonal living directly from us).

As we boarded the train to the farm, Tori, a true Southern gal, made the first of three wishes. “I wish it would snow,” she said.

On these short late-autumn days, the train trip up the Hudson is shrouded in darkness and the windows of the train might as well be painted with tar.  By the time we de-boarded in Albany, an ice storm had started to descend on upstate NY.  The roads had not yet become treacherous, and we arrived at the farm to find that Farmer John had stocked us with firewood, turned up the thermostat and turned on the porch lights.

We hastily made our way to our beds and snuggled in, visions not of sugarplums but of snowflakes dancing in our heads

TO” TRAIN REPORT: (Each week I’ll give a quick status recap of the train trip to and from The Beekman)

On time

The train was on time.  Tori found that NY newspaper crossword puzzles are much more difficult than those back home.  There was a woman sitting in the seat across the aisle who did not stop talking to her companion the entire trip.  Her throat had to be sore.

FROM:

Acorn
Acorn

Last weekend.

Frozen acorn
Frozen acorn

This weekend.

Some snowy mornings at the farm when I get up before anyone else and the house is perfectly quiet, I stand in front of the large palladian window on the second floor, watch the snow drifting lazily to the earth and imagine that I am encased in a gigantic snowglobe.

Frozen field
Frozen field
Frozen field
Frozen field

Friday morning everything on the farm was encased in 1/2 inch of ice.  Everywhere you looked made you think of what a beautiful Christmas ornament those crystalline structures would make could they only survive inside the house. The Swarovksi crystal star we saw earlier in the week on Fifth Avenue paled in comparison.

Icy willow
Icy willow

Trees that were as pretty as our ice-encased willow – but were not as lucky – wreaked havoc on the power lines along the rural roads.  Our power went out around 8:00 on Friday morning and the radio was reporting that the damage was so severe that some parts of the state may have to wait an entire week for power to return.

While we often try to imagine how the Beekman’s would have lived life in the mansion back in 1802, we do so from the comfort that electricity provides.  However, we were all willing to give the grid-free life a shot. Even dipping for water in the old Beekman well:

The Beekman well
The Beekman well

Once we’d taken care of the basics, we bundled up in all of our winter layers and traipsed into the woods for a crafting treasure hunt.

A holiday bouquet
A holiday bouquet

Tori then spent the afternoon creating wonderful holiday arrangements in the cast iron urns we use for doorstops throughout the house.

A decorative doorstop
A decorative doorstop

These will complement our other natural holiday decorations beautifully.

After a long day of crafting, we headed into the village for a wonderful meal at the American Hotel.  The truck radio informed us that the governor had declared a State of Emergency for Albany and parts of upstate NY, with almost a quarter of a million of people without power.

Though we enjoyed our day without the cacophony of TV and the distraction of the internet, we were decidedly uncertain about nighttime without electricity. As tough as it may have been in 1802, at least the original Beekman residents didn’t have to worry about pipes freezing. Contemplating the fact that the high temperature for Saturday was only 18 degrees, Tori made her second wish:  “I wish the power would come back on.”

As we rounded the final bend leading back to the farm, we all screamed when we saw the lights ablaze on the columns at the end of the driveway.  Thank goodness for modern marvels, hard workers…and Tori’s magical powers.

A frozen apple
A frozen apple

With power outages and fallen trees, it did not surprise us when the phone rang and an automated voice from Amtrak told us that our return train had been cancelled.

The ice storm
The ice storm

We managed to book tickets on a later train, but that still did not guarantee that the train would be there when we arrived at the station.

Would Tori’s wishing streak continue?  En route back to Albany, she said, “I wish our train is on schedule.”   Since I booked the tickets, I knew that this particular train was originating in Pennsylvania, so the likelihood that it would be on-time was slim even under perfect conditions.

As we walked into the train station, all of our eyes looked up at the schedule board:  “DELAYED.  DELAYED.  CANCELED.  DELAYED”

But, then, next to our scheduled train:  ON TIME.   The only one on the board that was on time.

I started to wonder if I should have asked Tori to wish for winning the lottery, but knowing that granted wishes are hit and miss, I decided that I shouldn’t waste it on something as frivolous as fortune.

Instead I wish that my mom—and the rest of my family, too—knew how grateful I am for everything they’ve ever done for me and how much I love them.  I can be bossy and opinionated and even a little grumpy on occasion, and if it is true that one mellows with age, I must surely have been a terror when I was younger and so very difficult to love back.

I know Tori reads this blog each week, so I am hoping that once she is back home in NC her wishful thinking remains intact.

The ice storm
The ice storm


“FROM” TRAIN REPORT:

On time

The train left the station on time but actually took four hours instead of two to get us back to NYC.  Thankfully, the train was not full and was blissfully quiet leaving me more time to ponder what a wonderful life I have.

by Dr. Brent

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