The older I get, the more provincial I become. Plattsburgh is a small city of about 20,000, an hour from home. I drive there once or twice a year. (For any medical care beyond an antibiotics prescription, I go to Burlington, Vermont, population 40,000, two hours from home, perhaps six times a year.) I don’t get out much.
Yesterday in Plattsburgh, after buying the mastitis meds for Moxie, I fought through traffic and stopped at the giant grocery store in one of the many big strip malls lining the main road. In the store, long lines of loaded carts snaked behind every register.
So many people, so much dirt, so much concrete and pavement in every direction. I felt a claustrophobic shrinking in my chest, a tremor of the same horror I have felt in New York City on the few occasions I have passed through in the last twenty years.
Elliot Merrick visited Manhattan from Vermont in 1933 and described my horror perfectly:
“It gives you a kind of a lost-gone feeling… no rocks, no trees, no snow, no one caring for you in the slightest, and you sit alone in the dark movie thinking thoughts that would never come to you in the country.
“The novelty of it is overwhelming and depressing. It seems as though infinities of lost space ache all around you and all is lost, lost, as Thomas Wolfe and everyone and everything is lost that is not rooted in nature and growth and sunlight and wind.”
I am always anxious to escape from New York City. I was slightly shocked, however, to find myself having the beginnings of the same reaction in little Plattsburgh. I’ve been down on the farm a long time.
* * *
At morning chores I had checked my limping ewe Geranium. I can find nothing wrong, so I’m guessing it’s a sprain — though she could use a hoof trim. I will catch her again and do that today. The vet could not run a mastitis test on my milk sample on a weekend so I decided to simply start Moxie on the twice-daily antibiotic infusions. The barn paddock water hydrant is frozen solid, as is the water in the garage apartment; I’ll have to work on both this morning. Meanwhile the alternator in the truck seems to be faulty: I’ve had to jump-start the new battery four times this week. I need to get the truck to a mechanic.
My Christmas tree is drooping sadly at me. I’ve never had it up so late.
It’s all I can do not to fall further behind.